Learnings from juggling busy roles

By: Sarah Elson
Berry & Oak

I am very excited the Personal Finance Society has asked me to contribute to the fantastic work they are doing through the POWER of Financial Planning Initiative.

The Power of Financial Planning is something I feel really passionate about. I absolutely love seeing clients journey with us from that initial meeting, where we are really just starting to get to know them to working together with them to design the life that they’ve always wanted but just didn’t realise was possible.  

The Power of Financial Planning is such that you can tell someone that they can stop work now, that they no longer have to work 12 hours days in a job they no longer enjoy, that they can take that trip of a lifetime and turn left when they step on the plane or that they can help their children but their first home.

I thought a good place to start with to tell you a little bit about me and my journey through financial services to where I am today as co-owner of Berry & Oak a multi award winning Chartered Financial Planning firm based in Boston Spa, West Yorkshire.

I fell into finance, like a lot of people, joining a bank as a summer job when I finished my A-levels and ended up staying there for 15 years.  That experience was an invaluable starting point to my career and taught me a lot of skills that I have been able to use throughout my life and my career.

Starting as a cashier my role was to spot opportunities and make referral for the in-branch financial adviser.  I set my sights on this role and decided that this was something that I was going to do.  I approached my manager about this and was told that I was too young, I would not be able to make it work.  

I then set out to prove that I could do it by passing my FPC exams and then going back to speak to my area manager again having proved that I had the desire and the knowledge to do the role.  He agreed to give me a chance in a trainee role and within 12 months I was one of the top advisers in the area and the adviser in a busy city centre branch.

I then moved on to be moved on to become Branch Manager at age 24 running my own branch of the bank, followed by five years as business development manager for Scottish Widows Bank.

In 2008 joined my husband who was an independent financial adviser at the time to set up our own partnership. We’ve worked together for the last 12 years to build our business from being a two person partnership to currently employing nine staff, holding Chartered and Accredited Status and a number of awards that we’ve worked hard to achieve over the last few years. I currently work in the business in both the Operations Director and Financial Planner roles.

It is not all been plain sailing so I thought I’d share a few tips that have helped me juggle my various roles along the way:

The first thing I learned very early on was to not take “no” for an answer

If someone tells you no, what can you do to change their mind to turn than no into a yes, something that is still very useful today.

Have someone there to encourage you, have your back and to challenge your decisions

I have used Andrew (my husband and business partner) as my mentor, sounding board and someone to work through big and difficult decisions. I urge anybody that does not have somebody like this to look at finding a mentor as this can be invaluable.  The PFS offers mentoring schemes if you do not know where to start or who to ask.

Write everything down

As a busy mum, Financial Planner, and business owner a typical day can be a very busy one with lots to juggle. I find a great tip for me is using a planner where I can record everything that I want to do for the week and then break this down into days and then prioritise the work for those accordingly. Having a list that I can tick off gives me a great sense of achievement at the end of each the day and ensure that nothing gets missed or forgotten. I start each day with a quote of the day to motivate me to do my best and inspire me to keep going, I then make a checklist of everything that I need do for the day making sure I note my most pressing tasks that I need to do and get out of the way.

Do not try and do everything yourself

Outsource to someone who is an expert in that area. As a business we have worked with many specialists over the years and still do, from helping us write a business plan to bookkeeping or designing our company name and logo. We are good at what we do, Financial Planning, getting someone in to work with you who is an expert in their field to work with you means that you can benefit for their expertise and leaves you to do what you do best.

Typing or dictating

If you are not good at something find a solution. This can be a simple thing that makes a huge difference to your time and productivity. I am a terrible typist. I have just started a course to learn how to type as one of my 2020 goals but for a few years I been using dictation software. I dictate into my headset and it types the words out for me. I have no problem talking and this is a lot quicker and more efficient for me.

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