We’re quite different to many financial services firms out there, in that we are not only a female led business, but also a largely female team. So, hitting the targets for the Women in Finance Charter will be not be the massive undertaking that it might be for other firms. However, just because we’re hitting the targets we’ve set, that doesn’t mean that I should sit back and think that we’ve completed a task.
I feel that this is about a commitment to the wider profession. I’ve been in the industry for twenty years now, and although I have no idea on exact figures, it’s clear to see that there has been an increase in the number of female advisers and planners out there. However, you’ve only got to take a look around at any industry event to see that women are still well outnumbered.
There’s also constant talk of the aging adviser population and what can be done to encourage people into the industry.
As a small business owner, and I’m sure there’ll be some of you reading this that will be able to resonate with this, it’s very difficult to come up with a formal training structure that will benefit the person, but also not prove too much of a drain on my already stretched time. With two members of staff at different stages in the programme, we’ve found that an apprenticeship programme through an approved provider has been invaluable. They provide both us and the employee with mentoring support and we can ensure that all aspects of the paraplanner role are covered, whilst working towards the CII Certificate in Paraplannning.
But, my advice if going down this route, don’t pay apprentice salaries. People of the right quality deserve to be paid a decent wage, and if you won’t pay it, they’ll get it somewhere else!
This brings me on to another of my commitments in 2019. Throughout my time in the industry, it’s always struck me how willing people are to share their experience and ideas. In January, I signed up as a mentor for the CISI Financial Planning Forum mentoring scheme. Through this programme, I have been working with my mentee on her goals and targets, both short term in terms of transition from paraplanner to planner within her firm, her qualification pathway and also her longer-term ambitions and possible business plans.
I’d like to say that my mentee has benefitted from our time together, but it’s also been extremely beneficial for me. She asks questions around what we take for granted and makes me rethink the systems and processes in my own business.
Engaging in all three of these initiatives, I’d hope that I am doing my bit to encourage a more diverse profession, the options for a career within the industry and the process of Financial Planning. Telling the FP Today readers about it, does it give them ideas to do the same?
Nicola Watts APFS Chartered Financial Planner, Chartered Wealth Manager, CFPTM Chartered FSCI - director of Jane Smith Financial Planning
After joining the family business in 2000, Nicola qualified to provide advice in 2001, and has been a director of the business since 2006. Since the retirement of her mother (Jane Smith), Nicola bears sole responsibility for the management of the firm, and the advice provided to clients. Nicola is married to David and has two young children, Emily and Olivia, and Poppy the black labrador.