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My only experience of financial planning firms was walking past offices as a child

Alex Molyneux

Alex Molyneux

Like so many others, I had no clear vision about the direction I wanted to take my life when I left formal education. 

After graduating in Sport and Exercise Science, a choice made purely on my personal interests, I was in a position where my career ambitions did not align with my qualifications. 

I encourage everybody to pick a degree subject based on their interests/passions rather than looking at it from a purely practical standpoint, but this does inevitably lead to interests evolving overtime and graduates not always seeking a job relating to their degree. 

Between spending much of last year on furlough and badly breaking my leg, I found myself asking: “What do I do next?”, even more so than I had been since graduation.

Some friends had trained to become independent financial advisers straight out of university and they were already seeing great success growing their client base and loving what they were doing. 

Previously my only experience of financial planning firms was walking past the offices of Lowes Financial Management when walking to school as a child. 

But it quickly became apparent that working as a financial planner had the potential to give me the autonomy, freedom, and sociable aspects I was looking for.

How did it happen?

Initially, I purchased training materials directly from the Chartered Insurance Institute (CII) with the intention of independently studying. 

I’m guessing that most people reading this article would agree they are not the most compelling reads out there, and it did not take me long to realise that a textbook on its own would not be the way forward. 

This is when I discovered Lowes Group (an advice firm in Newcastle) had recently launched a training academy. 

I was already familiar with the company not least because the office is down the road from my old school but also my father (since retired) worked at the company for a substantial number of years.

I enquired and secured a place on their R02 course.  

How was the process?

The process breaks down a gigantic syllabus into manageable weekly segments which you are guided through by two full-time tutors. 

In my opinion, the difficulty with these exams lies not with the concepts but the sheer size and scope of the syllabus. 

There are weekly live webinars delivered where participants can ask questions about specific issues (normally about investment bonds) and we go through a series of activities.

However, gaining a high degree of technical knowledge has been the most enjoyable part.

Most people think that just because they are familiar with financial terminology or concepts, such as private equity or the FTSE 100, they know what it means, but to understand something from the ground up is entirely different.

As I near the end of my studies, among the things I will I work on are client relationship skills, and analytical and research skills.