I never knew the role of a Financial Adviser existed when I was growing up. However, looking back, I was always destined for this job because of my upbringing, or more specifically because of my Mum. She was the best role model I could ever have wished for. She met my Dad in primary school and they went on to spend their lives together.
They both came from working class backgrounds and five children quickly followed after they got married – with just over seven years between all of us. My Dad worked as a claim’s assessor for Royal Insurance Company and my Mum worked at Wythenshawe hospital. She worked in the evenings after my Dad had got home from work, my brother and I would help my Dad repair cars on a Saturday and then my Mum worked all day Sunday.
However, she was the one who dealt with their finances. She was from a big family and was the first one who realised renting a home was dead money and it made sense for her and my Dad to buy their own home. They always bought houses at the top end of their budget and my dad redeveloped them learning on the job. My Mum made sure they saved every penny and other than the mortgage they never went into debt. She taught us all to work hard, save as much as we could and only ever buy anything when we had saved the money. The use of a credit card was a very rare occurrence and only ever took place when they had the funds to repay the credit promptly.
I went to the local comprehensive school and studied hard for my O levels and A levels and then went to Stockport College of Technology and studied for a Higher National Diploma (HND) in business studies. My Mum always rewarded us financially when we passed an exam and this trend continued whilst I studied my HND and made sure I passed with a distinction, to maximise my reward!
The course itself was only for two years and there was a five month gap between years one and two. With one of my fellow students I decided to travel to America during the gap to look for some work and have a bit of fun at the same time. The one way ticket to New York was paid for with my newly acquired NatWest credit card, but I was fully aware of the potential consequences if the airfare wasn’t quickly repaid! My friend and I arrived in New York, rented a car, and then drove down the New Jersey Turnpike looking for the first seaside resort where we could get some work.
The next day we arrived in a resort called Rehoboth Beach and were lucky enough to get a job in the first place where we enquired, Ryan’s Gems & Junk, which was a gift shop on the Boardwalk. Unbeknown to us, the people who worked in the shop did long days, seven days a week, as it was seasonal work only. At that time, the pound and the dollar were almost at parity and as a result of the long hours, I quickly repaid the credit card and managed to save a lot of money, whilst having lots of fun!
As mentioned previously, my colleagues worked long hours for seven months, save as much as possible and then travelled. I therefore decided to do exactly the same as soon as I finished my HND and carried on working in America and travelling all over the world for the next three years. I had a fantastic time and created memories that I will take to the grave however, I had a yearning to settle down and start my career.
The logical place to start was to look for a trainee role with an insurance company and follow in my Dad’s footsteps. However, I was keen to explore the Financial Services world. I was lucky enough to be accepted by Norwich Union following my first interview and started my first fulltime job in February 1988. The role was a Trainee Consultant and the training programme involved me gaining experience in each department of the Life and Pensions business whilst dealing with firms of Independent Financial Advisers. Once I completed the training, the first fulltime role was a Group Pension Consultant and the main appeal was not being restricted to one geographical area.
I was based in Manchester city centre and responsible for the group pension schemes linked with all firms of Independent Financial Adviser (IFA’s) serviced by the Manchester office. One of these firms was New Mansion Life and Pensions, where I first met David Heaton and John Smallridge in the early 1990’s.
I was promoted to become the Senior Group Pension Consultant and this role also meant that I became responsible for a portfolio of direct group pension schemes where there was no IFA involvement. I arranged Trustee meetings, where I presented actuarial reports and agreed on funding rates and the pension scheme investment strategy. I had completed all available financial services exams by this time and then decided to become an Associate of the Pensions Management Institute (PMI). This required a significant amount of study and I passed the final exam after five years and became an Associate of the PMI after just over five years of membership. During this time, it became very apparent to me that I wanted to become an Independent Financial Adviser and joined a Manchester based firm after seven successful and thoroughly enjoyable years with Norwich Union.
I had another seven successful years with this firm and then decided to set-up my own practice. My focus had mainly been Corporate Pensions and Employee Benefits. However, I was keen to widen my knowledge and experience of the financial services world and during the period when I had my own business, I continued my studies and became one of the first Chartered Financial Planners in the UK. Around the same time, I also became a Fellow of the Pensions Management Institute.
As mentioned above, having specialised in pensions for almost twenty years, I was keen to expand into other areas of financial services. With this in mind, a contact in the industry suggested I met up with the Directors of a Bolton based firm called Chancellor Financial Management Limited. A meeting was arranged with the two Directors, Grant and John and it was quickly apparent that merging my clients within their business made all round sense for everybody involved. Like me, they were fiercely independent and the focal point is always the best possible outcome for our clients. The icing on the cake was the news that I was to share the office with another new recruit whom I had first met in the early 1990’s, David Heaton, who was re-joining the company! It really did feel like the team was complete and my long-term future had been decided.
I joined Chancellor in June 2009 and continued my exams and also became a Fellow of the Personal Finance Society. I was extremely proud when invited to become a Director and Shareholder of the business.
My role now is to pass the same values on to my two young sons and to make sure that they become as financially aware as I was growing up. However, equally as important is to make sure they become Manchester City fans!