Joe swapped film for finance after realising he had a knack for giving people advice on their money. Here he explains why he likes the job, and how you can get started in the finance sector…
Name: Joe Roxborough
Company: Ascot Lloyd
Industry: Banking & Finance
What is your job? Financial advisor
How long have you been doing this job? 10 in the industry; three in current role.
Film studies, University of Portsmouth
Qualifications: Professional Examinations – Chartered Financial Planner
1. What was your very first job?
My first job was helping my step dad prepare and fit double glazing for pocket money on the weekends. I quickly learned that I was not designed for manual labour, coming home absolutely knackered each time we went out!
Once I turned sixteen, I got an evening and weekend job working on the checkouts in a DIY store. It was an enjoyable job that I kept for a few years throughout university and the DIY knowledge I picked up remains useful to this day.
2. What did you want to do when you were at school?
I didn’t know what I wanted to do when I was younger. At some point I was encouraged to follow my hobbies which led me to attempt a career in film. I had always enjoyed movies and making them with old video cameras with my friends in the summer holidays. I certainly didn’t envision financial advice being my calling from a young age – I don’t think many teenagers would!
3. How did you find out about the industry?
After completing a degree in film, I tried to get paid jobs in the film industry. I grew up near Leavesden Studios and for some reason thought getting a job was as simple as showing up and showing my degree. The only jobs I got for film and TV were unpaid, so I needed to find a job that would pay the rent. I spoke with a recruitment agency who found me a role doing filing and administration for a financial advice firm near where I lived.
4. How did you get there?
In my first role, as I had no experience or knowledge I started at the bottom, but I was happy enough having a 9-5 job with a monthly salary. I didn’t plan on sticking it out initially as I was still waiting for my big break, but I realised a year or so in that I wasn’t particularly creative or talented at film making, but I had a knack for organising things.
The financial advice company I worked for was very supportive and encouraged me to do professional exams to grow my knowledge of the financial services industry. I didn’t have a clue how taxes or pensions worked in the slightest. Over time, I stopped trying to pursue a career in the film industry as this involved late nights and no pay, and at the same time I was enjoying my day job more and more as I became competent at it.
5. What is a typical day like?
As an advisor, the main element of my job is speaking with people. Discussing their current savings and investments, what financial goals they have in the short and long term and finding the best ways to look after and grow their money. People considering hiring a financial adviser look our firm up online and come in to speak with me about what we can help with.
My existing clients meet with me once a year to review their situations and make sure they’re on track to achieve their financial goals.
I also spend a lot of time reading about new financial products and investments or going through the day-to-day emails and administration every modern job entails. My role offers a lot of flexibility so sometimes I travel to meet older clients in their homes, or speak to groups of potential clients about a certain subject in the form of seminars. Although there isn’t much variety in the types of thing I do, each of my clients is very different so that keeps it interesting.
6. What’s the best thing about your job?
It’s nice to help people understand the complicated world of tax, savings and investments, so that’s a huge bonus. In addition, you are helping them understand something quite complicated and you are often working with sophisticated individuals, so it doesn’t feel like you are patronising them or doing something anyone could do. The face-to-face element is key for me – I couldn’t do my job over the phone or by Skype all day, and I don’t think many of my clients would like it either.
7. What is the most challenging thing about your job?
Looking after the vast sums of money entrusted to me is quite daunting. Often you are dealing with people’s life savings. Of course, there are many checks in what we do, as we are dealing with real people and the money they have saved – these aren’t just numbers on a screen – so it comes with a lot of responsibility.
8. What advice do you have for people who want to do what you do?
Understanding economics is a huge head-start that I wish I had, but otherwise I would just try to get involved in the finance industry and try different things. For instance, being an adviser, an analyst, a compliance officer and so forth are all very different but when you’re not in the industry the differences aren’t obvious.
Most companies will support you to further your own professional education, so I would suggest not focussing too much on getting to the top of the job ladder straight away, but instead look around and consider different roles (summer internships or part-time roles) to get a feel for the industry. The financial services industry is very far removed from most people’s experiences so it’s hard to judge a book by its cover.
9. What things do you wish you’d known before starting your career?
A lot of work is not what you know, but who you know. That’s an awful cliché which makes it sound like the world is full of nepotism (and that’s probably a bit true as well…) but really it should be taken as encouragement to network.
If you get to know someone in an industry you are interested in and they remember you when a future role comes up, it could be the foot in the door you need – this could save you years of time and help escalate you quickly to an ideal role. People like being helpful, in my experience, so consider looking into industry events, sending speculative CVs for part time roles and so forth while you have the time and energy to look around.
10. Where would you like to be in 5 years?
In five years I hope to have a more developed client list and continue doing what I am doing now, perhaps with a more junior adviser or assistant working with me full time.
One thing I particularly like about progress and success is that if you get good at the parts of the job you like, the more you get asked to do them. While everyone must cut their teeth doing the more routine parts of the job, it’s good to know that if you progress you can often leave these behind once you have mastered them.