Having graduated six and a half years ago with a degree in Industrial Economics from Nottingham University, Nicholas is now a Chartered and Certified Financial Planner with a broad client portfolio and approximately £50m of client funds under management at present.
Although economics and the general financial world have always been of interest to me, when I graduated – right in the middle of the financial crisis in 2008/09 – the number of employers recruiting at graduate levels was significantly reduced compared to previous years. As such I took a bit of a “scatter-gun” approach to finding a job and applied to almost every company I could find.
Somewhat fortuitously I found Mazars and noticed that they had a financial planning graduate scheme and, as my father had worked in a similar role and I had experience of what the job may entail, I felt that this was a profession that would suit my interests and my self-perceived skills and also provide sufficient challenges. After a couple of months of interviews and assessment days I was offered the job and I joined Mazars in September 2009.
Upon joining our the graduate scheme I spent the first year taking the basic level of exams and learning Mazars’ processes and the systems we use. Then, as I moved into my second year, I started to spend more time with the financial planners and their clients and started to apply the knowledge gained through my exam studies. Towards the end of my third year at the company I went through our internal roleplay process, which assesses whether you are able to competently and compliantly advise clients. As a result of that process, in September 2012 I was promoted to the role of financial planner and since then have moved through three management grades, building my client portfolio and also taking on other responsibilities within the company. At present, my main responsibility outside of my client portfolio is managing our graduate recruitment and development process.
What I enjoy most about my job?
I would say that there are three main elements that contribute
to my enjoyment of this career:
• Meeting many different people and those people entrusting you with information they perhaps haven’t told their closest friends, or even family members.
• The ever-changing nature of the financial, legislative and legal worlds and the on-going challenges this poses.
• The work-life balance.
With regard to meeting many different types of people, I think this is the aspect of my job that really gives the most enjoyment. One day you can be meeting an elderly couple who have a significant level of wealth and want to start undertaking Inheritance Tax planning and using their wealth to assist their children and grandchildren with house moves, education costs or business ventures. The next you might be meeting someone who runs a tech start-up and has a young family and a large mortgage to consider. Or it may be someone who’s been diagnosed with a terminal illness who needs your help to ensure their family are looked after and advised appropriately in the longer term.
Furthermore, as a financial planner you really need to know everything about the individual and their wider circumstances so, unlike some other professions, you really get to know your clients. Having been advising clients for nearly four years now I find that a number of my clients now see our relationship as far more than expected pensions/tax/investment conversations. I regularly have discussions with clients about their family conflicts or whether or not I think it’s worth building an extension or how their rugby team fared against mine at the weekend!
When you combine these close relationships with making a significant difference to the client’s financial position and hopefully removing the majority of their financial concerns, you regularly feel a strong sense of professional satisfaction.
With regard to the ever-changing nature of the financial world, whilst I’m sure to many people this is a source of great frustration, for financial planners it really is our reason for existing. If pension legislation/tax rates/economic conditions never changed then far fewer people would require our assistance.