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The New Model Adviser® top 10 rising stars

Advisers have been concerned about the lack of new blood in financial planning but these young men and women are kicking off a new era of highly qualified professionals.

Ross Yiend, partner, Plutus Wealth Management

Ross Yiend, a founding partner of Plutus Wealth Management, has found his youth no barrier to success: he is 28 years old. When he first tried to find work in finance, however, he was told a different story.

He went for a job interview with a financial adviser in the Midlands who ‘told me that people were unlikely to take advice from me, as I wasn’t old enough and grey haired enough’, he says. He disagreed and turned the job down.

‘The industry needs younger, more dynamic and inspiring people coming into it.’

Professional sportsman would have been Yiend’s first choice of career, he says. Last season he played rugby for London Scottish first team.

‘Sometimes I turn up to client meetings looking very battered,’ he says. Clients may remark on his latest black eye or hand in a cast. It’s not easy ‘working hard and playing hard’, he says.

After graduating in 2004, Ross (pictured, in black and white strip) spent a year working as a sports teacher, which fitted in better with playing top level rugby.

These days he is putting his career first, and aims to be chartered by 2012.

Ross Yiend, partner, Plutus Wealth Management

Ross Yiend, a founding partner of Plutus Wealth Management, has found his youth no barrier to success: he is 28 years old. When he first tried to find work in finance, however, he was told a different story.

He went for a job interview with a financial adviser in the Midlands who ‘told me that people were unlikely to take advice from me, as I wasn’t old enough and grey haired enough’, he says. He disagreed and turned the job down.

‘The industry needs younger, more dynamic and inspiring people coming into it.’

Professional sportsman would have been Yiend’s first choice of career, he says. Last season he played rugby for London Scottish first team.

‘Sometimes I turn up to client meetings looking very battered,’ he says. Clients may remark on his latest black eye or hand in a cast. It’s not easy ‘working hard and playing hard’, he says.

After graduating in 2004, Ross (pictured, in black and white strip) spent a year working as a sports teacher, which fitted in better with playing top level rugby.

These days he is putting his career first, and aims to be chartered by 2012.

Adam Calderwood, associate director, Baigrie Davies

Adam Calderwood’s ambition in life was always to score a winning goal in an FA Cup final at Wembley. But due to an admitted insufficiency of football skill, this has developed over time into the ambition of watching his son score a winning goal in an FA Cup final at Wembley (his wife is expecting their first baby).

After gaining a degree from Bristol University in politics and social policy, Calderwood went straight into financial services at the age of 22. He started as a paraplanner and qualified to be an adviser.

‘I wanted to join a firm where I could have an influence and contribute and one that was entirely client focused,’ he says. He achieved his aim when he moved to London-based Baigrie Davies.

Although he is a generalist, Calderwood, now 32, also has specific expertise in tax mitigation (income, capital gains and inheritance) and retirement planning. He has achieved both certified and chartered status.

In his spare time he plays squash and goes to the gym. He enjoys travelling and watching cricket and football. ‘I’m a lifelong Toffees [Everton] supporter,’ he says. ‘However, with a new baby on the way, I may not get much time for hobbies.’

Vicky Harrison, business director, WR Financial Management

Financial services was not Vicky Harrison’s first choice of career. After graduating from Leeds Metropolitan University in 2001 with a degree in public relations, she spent a couple of years working in PR and marketing. However, her father, Graham Laverick, managing director of WR Financial Management, was keen that she join him in the firm.

‘My dad had always asked me to work for him,’ she says.

Joining WR Financial Management over five years ago was a ‘total career change’, she says. She gained the CII diploma last October and put a lot of work into her studies.

Harrison, who is 31, says her father plans to retire in five to 10 years, at which point she could take on a larger role at the firm. Currently a director of the company and responsible for marketing, she sees herself remaining on the business side. ‘I won’t ever be a client-facing adviser,’ she says.

That business function could grow, though, as the Stockton on Tees-based firm plans to acquire other IFA firms. Could she become managing director herself? ‘It’s a possibility,’ she says.

Harrison says that martial arts classes twice a week help her work off the frustrations of working in financial services. ‘But I only fight thin air. I don’t actually hit anyone,’ she says.

Gemma Davies, certified financial planner, Bluefin

Gemma Davies, who is 26, decided her career lay in financial services after she temped for Julie Lord’s firm Cavendish Financial Management (before Lord sold to Bluefin in 2007) in 2006. ‘I knew within a week that I was comfortable with the work,’ she says.

She had gained a law degree from Cardiff University in 2005 but says: ‘Law is a backward-thinking profession based on the past. Financial services is more forward thinking.’

Her degree has helped with some aspects of her work, such as trusts, she says. But she believes that business acumen, common sense, drive, and the ability to relate to people and communicate are more important than a degree.

She gained certified financial planner status in December 2009, and her role has moved from paraplanner to financial planner. She says she enjoys meeting clients face to face.

Most of Davies’ clients are approaching or in retirement and she says she gets on better with older clients. ‘When I first started, I thought there might be an age barrier,’ she says. She likes being involved with their lives, for example researching the best cruise holidays for them.

She plans to become chartered next year. Her ambitions for the next 10 years include building a good bank of clients who trust her as a financial planner, having a family, and becoming a New Model Adviser® cover star.

Will Driver, financial planner, Paradigm Norton

In two months last summer, 30-year-old Will Driver changed jobs, moved home from London to Bath and got married.

Originally from the South West, he had always planned to move back there by age 30 and Paradigm Norton, which has offices in Bristol and London, was a good vehicle for achieving that, he says. He joined Paradigm Norton from Saunderson House, which is based in the Barbican in London.

In 2002, after graduating in law, Driver went straight into a graduate scheme at Arthur Andersen, which became part of Deloitte. A couple of months into the job, he discovered that he ‘loathed auditing and wanted to work with private clients’. That seemed impossible in the top four accountancy firms after the crash of 2002, he says, so in 2003 he joined Saunderson House.

He became a chartered financial planner while at the firm and off his own bat also took the investment management certificate.

Even when at university he knew he wanted to work on the private client side of a professional service, he says. ‘I like the relationship side. Having a personal relationship and a real life scenario to work with seems more intimate than being a little cog in a big machine.’

He believes financial planning should be available to more than the wealthiest 1% of the population. ‘We are only truly a profession if we are accessible to everyone,’ he says. ‘In a world of no final salary pensions, no job for life and many people living 40 years after retirement, many have not carried out the necessary level of planning.’

Driver met his wife in his first year at Durham University and they ‘have been together ever since’, he says. They enjoy skiing at Avoriaz in the Alps and scuba diving in the Red Sea, the Maldives and Zanzibar.

Ross Pepperell, head of investment research, Money Wise

When Ross Pepperell left university, he had no idea what he wanted to do. Today, aged 32, he runs £100 million as head of investment research at Money Wise.

After graduating in 2000, he spent a year travelling in Australia, the Far East and Japan. Back in the UK, he joined Norwich Union then responded to a Chase de Vere advert in a newspaper. ‘Chase had a rigorous interview process,’ he says. He worked there for three years as a financial adviser.

When he joined Bath-based Money Wise in June 2004, he also advised clients at first. He was increasingly given projects inside the business and set up Money Wise’s discretionary portfolios. In 10 years’ time, he says, he sees himself ‘running more money’ as the £100 million he currently looks after is, by some comparisons, a ‘drop in the ocean’.

Pepperell’s degree in economics from Birmingham University was helpful in preparing him for his career, he says. He disputes the academically orthodox efficient market hypothesis, believing that ideas being developed by George Soros on market reflexivity and new research in behavioural finance have merit.

He says the recession has highlighted a lot of problems in the industry and that the higher level of qualifications required by the retail distribution review (RDR) is a good thing. He has the Securities & Investments Institute’s certificate of investment management, the CII’s financial planning certificate and is now studying for the SII diploma.

He still loves travel and is a keen photographer. He took this photo of the Moraine Lake in the Rocky Mountains in Canada.

Gianpaolo Mantini, managing partner, Higgins Fairbairn Advisory LLP

High-flying 33-year-old Gianpaolo Mantini had an unusual start in the industry. He went for a job interview and clinched the job, thinking he was joining a stockbroker firm. In fact he had joined a less than reputable direct sales force. The company was taken over and he was relieved to be told he was not qualified to give advice.

He learned from the experience and quickly put his career back on track and at the end of 2008 qualified as a chartered financial planner.

He feels that, although the RDR has its problems, in general it’s a good thing. He doubts it will lead to many people leaving the industry. To older financial advisers who don’t want to take the exams, he says: ‘If you have the experience, you should find the exams easier.’

In January 2010, Higgins Fairbairn was hived off as a separate entity from the accountancy firm of which it previously formed part. Mantini, who had joined the firm in 2005, became its managing partner.

‘I could have earned more as an employee of another firm,’ he says, but he preferred to build for the long term.

Building up Higgins Fairbairn from zero to 34%-40% recurring income, where it stands now, was no mean achievement.

In his spare time, Mantini hacks around a golf course. He expects to have less spare time in future, he says, as he will soon become a father.

Paul Cowen, financial practitioner, Hargreaves Lansdown

Paul Cowen, 33, was not in the graduate scheme at Hargreaves Lansdown but does not feel that has held him back. ‘I’ve come in from a different angle and carved a niche for myself,’ he says.

He would advise graduates that more important than being on a graduate scheme is to ‘make sure you’re really good at what you do’. He describes himself as ‘driven’.

A keen cyclist, he recently completed a stage of the Tour de France, involving 114 miles of cycling in the Pyrenees, which took him more than 10 hours. He still trains four or five times a week.

He measures success at work in the more intangible form of client satisfaction. Whether it’s a ‘£50 per month into an ISA or a £1 million-plus portfolio’, looking after the client well is the priority, he says. ‘I want to do a good job.’

Hannah Nicholls, investment, technology and office manager, Nicholls Stevens

Hannah Nicholls originally wanted to become a geologist and gained a degree in the subject. But she became fascinated by financial planning after working as a temp for her mother, Carole Nicholls, principal of Bristol-based Nicholls Stevens.

While her mother is on the road visiting high-net-worth clients, 30-year-old Hannah is busy sorting out the office. ‘I don’t really have a job title,’ she says, ‘It’s a family business and I do a bit of everything.’ Currently she is responsible for all the fund research and analysis at the firm.

She expects to receive her CII diploma in financial planning after exams in October. When her mother retires, she will take over the practice, she says. She says her research skills ensure that clients, most of whom are older than her, listen to her advice.

She likes to unwind by honing her circus trapeze skills. She has been training an evening a week for two years, and finds it a good ‘alternative to the gym’.

David Baker, senior manager, Mazars Financial Planning

David Baker is speeding up the ladder at Mazars. He hopes to become a director by ‘this time next year’ and eventually to become a partner, he says.

He joined Mazars’ graduate programme when it started, then became a financial planner, then assistant manager and is now, at 31 years old, a senior manager at the firm’s offices in Oxford.

He joined Mazars in 2000, immediately after finishing a degree in economics. He says the degree helps him to talk the right language at meetings of the firm’s investment committee.

He has qualified as a chartered financial planner, a certified financial planner and holds the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners certificate for financial services.

He is positive about the RDR. ‘We are moving from an industry to a profession.’

He does not find that older clients mind taking advice from a 31 year old. They are accustomed to dealing with young professionals in their dealings with Mazars’ accountancy side, he says. Typical clients would be owners of small or medium-sized business, who are perhaps considering selling up and retiring.

With two sons, aged one and three, he has little time for hobbies but plays football for a local team. He plays as a striker, where he can ‘take all the glory while others do the hard work’, he jokes.

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