• Bio: Roger practises as a wealth manager with Financial Themes LLP, a small independent financial advice partnership based in London. After winning an award as the top performer in the CISI’s Private Client Advice exam, he offers some tips to future graduates on beginning a career in the competitive world of wealth management.
  • Role: Wealth Manager

Roger Milbourn

What does being a wealth manager entail?

At Financial Themes LLP, we advise private clients and small companies in areas such as retirement planning, investment advice and tax planning. Our main focus is a Wealth Management proposition based on our in-house proprietary research techniques and portfolio management.

My role breaks down into five basic functions:

Advice
As a wealth manager, you field phone calls, emails and conduct meetings in which you provide advice both verbally and in writing to determine the most suitable course of action for your clients.

Sales
First and foremost, wealth managers are advisers, but it’s important for both you and the client that you follow a sales process. It helps if you enjoy the thought of prospecting for new business, as it can be tough sometimes, and you are expected to find your own clients.

Service
It is of paramount importance that a high level of service is offered to clients. Having the desire to help clients is a key motivator for providing a good service.

Compliance
Compliance is a necessary headache, but it protects the client and you whilst giving credibility to the financial services sector. Ensuring you keep evidence of research and recommendations on file is vital.

Relationship building
Being a financial adviser means building long-term relationships with clients: therefore it’s important to have a social and personable disposition.

How I got there

During university I found it hard to decide what route to take, especially as the selection criteria for most companies was for candidates with a 2:1 or above, not the ‘social’ 2:2 which I achieved! Moving to London in 2001, I joined Prudential working in IT Finance.

This job taught me that I didn’t want to work for big corporations, so I left and took the plunge to qualify as a mortgage adviser myself after meeting a colleague who was looking for new trainees. It seemed to fit with my Business Studies Degree and my desire to help people.

I became a director of the firm in 2004 and an Approved Person authorised by the then regulator, the Financial Services Authority. In 2007 I joined a network whilst qualifying as a Financial Planner.

I find the investment side of the advice and planning service the most interesting and completed the Investment Management Certificate in 2011, joining Financial Themes as a Wealth Manager soon after. I had worked alongside the Senior Partner previously so I already had a foot in the door.

’How is that going to help me?’ I hear you say. Well, it’s a perfect example of why networking and building relationships is vital to your career, regardless of what you do.

How you can get there

I would advocate two main channels to get into financial advice roles:

  1. Apply for graduate jobs in banks and large financial institutions, often in the City of London, to receive their training and support.
  2. Apply for trainee positions in firms offering independent financial advice.

A great way to get ahead is to start studying to demonstrate commitment and ideally have taken and passed at least one exam. Find out more by speaking to the CISI.

What I like about the job

I enjoy working with clients and helping them cut through the fog of complexity that often surrounds financial planning. If I have helped the client understand the financial information and feel confident about making a decision, then I have performed my role well. Being truly independent means I can give the best advice possible.

The role is flexible, so you might have late evening appointments, but you are not stuck in front of a desk all the time and you get to meet a wide range of characters. Typically the income you earn is a factor of how much effort you put into the role, so if you like the sound of this, being a financial adviser could be for you!

Top tips for getting the first job

  • Your CV should be short, to the point and be a little creative with design so it stands out. Imagine the person reading your cv is a busy professional who has ten CVs to read before lunch and is having a bad day!
  • Create a LinkedIn profile and add it to your CV: it shows you are already business minded with nothing to hide.
  • Don’t wait for companies to announce that they are hiring, phone and ask to speak to the hr manager to see if they have any availability or are planning to do so.
  • Follow up sending in your CV: nothing shows you are suited for the job more than being business and sales minded in your approach to applying for it.

I struggled when applying for jobs with worrying about this or that. Remember, you only have to make a decision once you get a job offer, so there is no excuse for not exuding enthusiasm and commitment every step of the way. You can always turn them down!

Summary

If you are looking for a career, then financial services can be rewarding on both a personal and financial level. You will need to decide whether you prefer the structured route of joining a big firm or the more flexible and exciting route of joining an independent financial advice practice. Either way, I hope this article gives you some good tips and helps you get that first job! 

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