From Physics to Financial Planning

By: Jessica Geere
Trainee Financial Planner
Magenta Financial Planning

Growing up, I didn’t have the classic princess stories or anything like that, I had books about the planets and stars. For my 11th birthday I was taken to toys r us and told I could pick anything I liked, and I picked a telescope. My parents looked at me a bit funny and asked if I was sure, but I was adamant that I wanted to see the pictures in my book in real life.

All through secondary school and A-levels it was very much the same thought, I wanted to do physics and learn about the theory of everything. When I got to university it quickly became apparent that I didn’t fit the physicist stereotype. Besides the first strikingly obvious fact that I was a woman in a field of men, I was also very sociable which as the years and complexity developed, became a bit of a challenge to keep up. I loved learning the syllabus, it was so interesting, but the learning the theory of EVERYTHING whilst having a social life started to take its toll.

I realised that if I was going to be a serious physicist then I would probably have to change my lifestyle and I wasn’t prepared to do that. I love being spontaneous with activities, playing lacrosse and chatting meeting new people. I needed to start thinking outside of this narrow mindset I put on myself and figure out what else I enjoyed.

After university I got a job in the finance department of an insurance company.

This was always going to be a steppingstone role for me as I just wanted to see what office life was all about. I spoke to every single person in that office of about 200 people, interrogating them on what they did. Looking back, I realise what a great insight I have been able to have from this short role. Now that I deal with insurance, it’s great to have such an understanding of the people behind the quotes! However, after speaking with all of my colleagues none of these roles really stood out to be as something I could be passionate about for the rest of my working life.

Then a friend mentioned her Financial Planning diploma.

She was working for a wealth management company. She loved her job and the enthusiasm was contagious. She described the analytical and complex side to her studying and how this fits with helping out the clients that she sees, as well as getting to speak with people all day and having a change of pace daily.

This definitely sounded like something I would be interested in. I was then talking to my brother about this and researching further about the role and any placements around where I lived in Bristol. After a few applications and no luck, my brother came home saying his colleague knows someone hiring for a trainee planner role in SJP and he will put me forward for the role. I couldn’t believe my luck.

I went along to the interview at SJP.

Incredibly nervous, but excited to see what would come from it, I was given the opportunity straight away and I joined the following week.

I was thrown straight in working along side another lady who was always on hand to answer my many, many questions. I felt like I was set. I was doing the LOAs and writing letters to clients. However, I never got to see any clients and was told I would be entering an academy in six months’ time to begin my studies. Everything seemed to be lining up for me apart from one reservation …

… How quickly I would be able to learn if I wasn’t actively speaking to and seeing clients myself?

Then I met my partner, who lives in my hometown of Swansea. It was a bit of a whirl wind romance and within a couple of months he asked me to move in with him. This meant saying goodbye to Bristol and my firm and moving myself back to Swansea to start the job application process over again. I was a bit anxious at this point.

Would I find somewhere that would take a trainee on?

At least I now had focus and determination about where I wanted my career to go.   

After a few months, I received a call about a company called Magenta Financial Planning. They were looking to take on a trainee Financial Planner. They wanted someone they could train from the ground up and lead the way of Magenta in the future.

I would be in all the meetings and speaking to clients from day one, as well as starting my studies as soon as possible.

Again, I couldn’t believe my luck. It was like I had the position and goals of the job I had just left but with all the negatives taken away!

Magenta is an all-female (currently) with a real passion for pushing the Financial Planning profession into the 21st century. There is so much personality involved in every step of the client’s journey that they really cut themselves away from the male, pale and stale stereotype of financial services. This is what hooked me on wanting to join.

I joined Magenta in July 2019 and am now four exams through my diploma, having most recently passed R02. Having come from a bit of a stand still with my studying, it was a hard task getting through the first few exams, learning all the jargon as well as the syllabus, but I feel much more in the swing of things now. I’m hoping to complete the diploma by late spring and well on my way to being a Financial Planner.

“Why finance after doing such an intense science degree?”

I can understand why Physics and Financial Planning seem like worlds apart. But, for me they are so similar. Besides the Maths element helping me get through these exams, the main skills that the degree enhanced for me was the problem solving aspect.

Physics is the process of taking in A LOT of data from many different aspects, taking in how each slight discrepancy can affect the overall results and then problem solving to get what you need from the theory or experiment.

From even my short time in the Financial Planning profession I can already see how closely the two are linked.

A client comes to you with a multitude of scenarios and circumstances and you have to navigate your way through that get to their desired outcome.

Each sentence that they say can throw the first plan out and create a whole new path. Much like an experiment that you’re having to repeat over and over again … I think this has also helped with my patience … some clients are not an open book and revelations down the line that scupper the initial plan can be frustrating, but my experience of spending weeks at a time on one experiment that keeps changing its output has helped me to focus on what is important.

Getting that end result.

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