Embarking on the journey from being an employee to becoming a self-employed financial planner has already been a transformative experience filled with challenges, learning opportunities, and the satisfaction of pursuing a passion. In this article, I share my personal journey, shedding light on the hurdles faced and the benefits reaped during this transition.
The Decision to Go Solo:
Let’s rewind to the beginning of my journey in financial services. I graduated with an upper second-class honours degree in Mathematics and Statistics in 2013. During university, I spent summer breaks working at NFU Mutual, gaining experience across various departments in their financial services arm.
Despite initial struggles in securing a role in the financial services field after completing my degree, my hard work at NFU Mutual paid off. I began as Admin support in the Technical Pensions department, gradually progressing through different departments, from Customer Enquiries to the non-advised sales team. This diverse experience allowed me to enhance my skills and knowledge. Along the way, I earned my level 4 Diploma in Financial Planning through the CII. Succeeding in the non-advised sales role opened the door for me to become a Financial Advisor. NFU Mutual supported me in achieving Chartered status, a goal I accomplished in January 2022. I loved working at NFU Mutual, excelling as a Financial Advisor and building excellent relationships with clients and local NFU Mutual offices.
The decision to transition from employment to self-employment stemmed from a desire for greater autonomy and the pursuit of a personalised approach to financial planning. The vision of creating a practice aligned with my values and allowing me to tailor solutions for clients fuelled my determination to take the leap.
I decided to become a partner with St James Place (SJP) after comparing their offering with many other providers offering a similar setup. The support SJP offered when starting with them was fantastic and stood out from others I was comparing against. They also offer a brilliant Investment Management proposition distinct to them, providing all the tools I need to offer holistic financial advice to my clients and put my extra knowledge and expertise following my Chartered status into action.
1. Financial Uncertainty:
These initial months have brought financial unpredictability as the steady monthly pay transformed into irregular income. Building a financial safety net has become a priority, requiring careful budgeting and conservative spending habits in these initial couple of years.
2. Client Acquisition:
Attracting clients will prove to be a formidable challenge, but it has been progressing nicely since I started. Establishing a robust online presence, attending networking events, and leveraging personal connections has become essential for building my client base. Patience and persistence will continue to be crucial as client acquisition will take time, especially with the restrictive covenant from my previous role. I am also thinking outside the box on how to attract clients to my new business and being proactive in speaking with local businesses.
3. Navigating Regulatory Landscape:
Understanding and complying with regulatory requirements remain a constant learning curve. Seeking guidance from industry mentors, attending workshops, and staying updated on legal obligations are critical to ensuring a compliant and ethical practice. Consumer duty, a focus I’ve always had as a Financial Planner, is now more emphasised to ensure clients are well looked after and regularly reviewed.
4. Isolation and Networking:
The shift from a bustling office to a home-based setup has led to moments of isolation, but with good friends and family around, I am managing well. Actively seeking networking opportunities, participating in industry forums, and engaging in mentorship programs to create a support system and foster professional connections with Accountants and Solicitors.
While at NFU Mutual, I was incredibly busy, working 60+ hours each week, and I have continued this since going self-employed. This is because I want to grow my business naturally and have several other things that need doing now that I am running my own business. Eventually, I may bring in some administration support, but for now, with everything being very new, I want to learn as much as I can and figure out the best way to direct admin support and other assistance I may need in the future, depending on how the business grows.
1. Autonomy and Flexibility:
One of the most rewarding aspects of self-employment was the newfound autonomy. The ability to set my own schedule, choose clients aligned with my values, and tailor financial plans according to individual needs significantly enhanced job satisfaction. This has been incredibly helpful with having a wonderful wife and two young sons, allowing me to take them to swimming and football each week.
2. Personalised Client Relationships:
Working independently has and will allow for more personalised client relationships. Understanding each client’s unique financial situation and goals is becoming a cornerstone of my practice, leading to deeper connections and client satisfaction. With the offering I now have for clients, more profound and detailed conversations can take place.
3. Skill Diversification:
Transitioning to self-employment prompted continuous learning and skill diversification. Beyond financial planning expertise, I have developed skills in marketing, client management, and business development, enhancing my overall professional capabilities. Being self-employed allows me to think ‘outside of the box’ and try different ideas on how to grow my business, which I am thoroughly enjoying.
4. Fulfilment and Passion:
The intrinsic motivation derived from pursuing a passion in financial planning has brought a profound sense of fulfilment. The ability to shape my practice according to my values and vision added a layer of meaning to my work.
The journey from employed to self-employed in financial planning is as challenging as expected, yet immensely rewarding. While the challenges test my resilience and adaptability, the benefits of autonomy, personalised client relationships, and professional fulfilment make the transition worthwhile. This experience will not only shape my career but also instil a sense of confidence in navigating the dynamic landscape of self-employment in the financial planning industry.