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Working in the Financial Services Profession as a young Independent Financial Adviser by Matt Black

By August 10, 2020October 15th, 2020ELEVATION BLOG

“It was the summer of 2012. The London Olympics had just come to a close and it had been a baking hot summer. There was an amazing feeling in London, where I grew up, like a new page had been turned. There was a real sensation of unity and pride across the whole country and not just in London. People of all religions, beliefs, backgrounds and countries, rich and poor were in elation at how incredible the Summer had been.

Not for me, as I remember feeling particularly unhappy that summer. I had been in a job for a year that I knew was not right for me. I constantly felt like I was doing or saying the wrong thing and often was in trouble for reasons that frustrated me.

Having gone through the private education system and come out of a decent British university with an accounting and finance degree I had tried my hand working within the foreign exchange sector. The work was fine, but I knew it was not quite for me. I remember questioning my own abilities and being filled with self-doubt about whether I was cut out for the financial services industry. I had applied to join the Marines, and interviewed to join a firm in Singapore. If this paints a confusing contrast, let me assure you my head was all over the place.

In addition to the avenues aforementioned, I had met with Tony Smith, MD at Elevation, for a job interview. I had known Tony growing up through some close family friends. I had also completed some work experience with him when I was about 16 and remember, despite having very little business acumen at the time, being impressed at what a well-oiled operation Tony had going at the time.

I had agreed to join on what would turn out to be the first grad/apprentice programmes that paved a path for many other youngsters to follow suit. The aim was to progress and develop within the business, sitting a series of exams required to qualify as a regulated financial planner, a requirement before you are permitted to give financial advice. I have never looked back.

Fast-forward 8 years (almost to the day as I write this!) and following a spell living in Birmingham to widen my skill set – a life changing experience of its own – I’m now back living in London and now happy to be managing the London office on behalf of the company. I have even had the pleasure of recruiting and mentoring a new staff member, a responsibility I felt honoured to be entrusted with.

The industry has changed significantly in the relatively short time that I have been a part of it. It has fundamentally changed for the right reasons and for that, I am very glad. The ethos has moved to focus more on responsibility and service for the client and away from the stereotype of the old insurance salesman who would butter your toast for you in exchange for a sale.

I can see the move within our industry shifting more towards the integration of software and technology every month that goes by. The aim, of course, is to be able to boost advice offerings for clients, but with the average age of a UK financial adviser still in the mid-late 50’s technology might be the Achilles heel for some of the ‘old guard’. I say that with utmost respect and without any offence intended but quite simply it is the difference between a generation where schools were not teaching classes with computers versus a generation of newer industry workers who grew up with technology and for whom, for the most part, computers and the digital age comes very much as second nature.

As a young (ish!) adviser working in the financial advice industry, I am very excited for the years ahead. Despite some of the unfortunate events of late, COVID-19 especially, we are actually all very fortunate to be living in times where we have the world at our fingertips. We can communicate with loved ones, invest, buy groceries, and send gifts. The list goes on.

One of the things that excites me about working at Elevation Investment Management is that we have a plethora of hungry and energetic youngsters that have been trickling into the company over the last decade and are all now working their way up the ranks. So, watch this space…. The new generation of financial advisers are in town and, more importantly, they are well represented at Elevation.”

Matt Black
Senior Independent Financial Adviser
London Office