Life as a Young Financial Adviser

It’s hardly surprising that someone of my relatively young years (21) should stand out when the average age of an adviser is somewhere in the mid-50s. I don’t mind the reaction to my age, it’s perfectly natural, but it does provide some unique challenges that more senior advisers don’t have to deal with.

The crux of it is that some clients might be reluctant to accept advice and guidance from someone relatively new to the profession or with half the life experience that they might have themselves. These are valid concerns. Anyone in financial advice will agree that credibility is vital to building up a trusting relationship with the client. But there are ways for young advisers to address this.

Preparation is everything

I make sure I plan thoroughly before meeting every client. I look at their circumstances, study their situation and think through as many possible outcomes as I can. I try and make sure I have an answer for any question they could ask me, whether that’s about their finances or my own experience in the role.

Although I am now learning that sometimes I can get asked questions so left field that no amount of preparation could have readied anyone for them. Being as prepared as I can be gives me confidence.

Clients can tell when an adviser isn’t sure of him or herself, and this can in turn make them uncomfortable. Showing you’re on top of everything and ready to deal with whatever they throw at you, however unexpected, helps to put both parties at ease.

There’s also the unmistakable feeling as a young adviser that your actions are being scrutinised more closely. You sometimes get the impression that if you make a mistake you could be judged more harshly than your senior colleagues, or that an error will confirm the suspicions of anyone anxious about using a young adviser. I actually think that this can be a good thing, and something that young advisers can learn to thrive on.

We might have to work harder to prove ourselves, be more meticulous in our approach and hold ourselves to consistently high standards, but this can only be good for our own knowledge of the role, with obvious benefits for the clients who we take pride in looking after.

Be authentic

I learnt early on in my still young career as a financial adviser that the most important thing of all is to be authentic. To be who you are, and to not try to be someone you’re not, however old you are. As an adviser, this means meeting a client, being yourself and doing the very best job you can do. It’s a quality that we can all respect at any stage of life.

Unlike a lot of people, my route to becoming an adviser didn’t involve higher education.

I did get a place at university, but in my heart I didn’t really want to go. After leaving school I wanted to get moving in a career, make progress in my chosen profession. I had started working for a firm of financial advisers after my A levels, so I deferred my university place for a year to see if I liked it. As it turned out, I really enjoyed the role. So I didn’t look back. I took my exams and pressed on.

Joining First Wealth

After a couple of years in the profession I got the opportunity to join First Wealth. As a young adviser, you can also sometimes come across some age-related snobbery from within the profession, but not here. It’s a young, vibrant, forward-looking firm.

In an ageing profession, we need to start taking action to make sure there’s a healthy pipeline of new advisers coming through.

Employing advisers who are younger than the average is a natural part of this, and First Wealth make sure they are given all the support and mentoring they need from well-experienced team members who work closely with them on an ongoing basis.

This commitment makes good sense for clients too. The young entrepreneurs of today are the High Net Worths of tomorrow, and they want to be surrounded by people who get them, their values and what they’re trying to do as they make the journey through their lives and careers. Young advisers are perfectly positioned to do this.

As well as inspiring the next generation from within financial services, I think there’s also a role for the education system to play.

One thing you learn in the job and by talking to peers outside of finance is how few parents talk to their children about money and financial planning.

Teaching personal finance in school and giving students an understanding of how to manage money and make correct financial decisions would not only provide them with an essential skill for life, it could also help mould the advisers of the future.

I often say that no one grows up wanting to be a financial planner or adviser, but getting a solid understanding of financial principles when you’re younger could be the springboard into a hugely rewarding career.

I’ve not long left education and I know that so few people are aware of the Power Financial Planning has to change lives.

It’s not just about numbers and money management

Showcasing the lifestyle financial planning side of giving advice and how it helps clients live full lives and build a path towards future goals shows what a fulfilling, impactful and respectable career choice it really can be, whatever your age.