My time in Afghanistan helped me be an IFA

My time in Afghanistan helped me be an IFA
Louis Goacher

You do not have to be ex-military to possess the skills needed to transition to an adviser. There are many highly skilled occupations out there that enable you to learn a wide range of skills that can be used to give great financial advice.

However, there are certain situations and experiences obtained in the military, and in my case the British army (Royal Engineers), that simply cannot be found elsewhere. I think you would agree, it is quite a vast contrast in jobs.

My focus and passion is to become the best IFA I can, but I do hold the army in high regard with the lessons and the opportunities it has presented me. This shapes how I give advice today, along with other skills I have learnt from advisers more experienced than me. 

Transferrable skills

There is a particular time I had in Afghanistan as a counter improvised explosive device searcher in 2010 (pictured above), which, if I reflect on, has educated me in so many different ways.

Before the task of clearing any route, there would be an extremely detailed brief on the ground, the threat in the area and the route itself. This requires you to be able to listen and absorb all that information, so the job can be carried out correctly.

I relate this skill of listening to a fact-find I do with my clients. If I have not listened and obtained all the information my client is giving me, my advice is at risk of being incorrect and has a potential to not allow them to achieve their objectives.

I think all fellow advisers would agree this probably is the number one key skill to being a good adviser before any technical knowledge. Technical knowledge you can learn or be taught, being a good listener is more of a characteristic. 

Discipline and punctuality

It is widely known that the military drills in its members discipline and punctuality. The feeling of dread if you were ever to arrive to anything late or without the correct equipment was palpable as it would be swiftly met with disciplinary action.

It does not matter if you are a newly trained soldier or an experienced Sergeant, discipline and punctuality is expected – as it should be – throughout all ranks. This has had such a significant impact on me and I think I speak for the majority of ex-service men and women. And because it is widely known, I feel this has helped veterans achieve employment when they have left the forces because employers have already assumed their candidate comes with these qualities.

I personally have been guilty of arriving at a client’s home a little too early and have sat in the car reading my notes to pass the time on a few occasions. The feeling of thinking I am going to arrive late still makes me feel uneasy. So, the last thing I would want is a client thinking I am not taking them seriously or to be seen as unprofessional.