Emma Fielding has been working in financial services for almost a decade and is now one of our valued Chartered Financial Planners.
We caught up with Emma to find out more about her journey so far, what she has learned from the Covid-19 pandemic, and her advice to anyone who wants to become a financial planner.
Tell us more about your role and what you do.
I’ve worked in the profession for eight years. During that time, I have worked my way up, learning the business in different roles. I’ve been continuously learning, taking exams, and gaining qualifications towards my Chartered status.
What are your specialties?
As with all First Wealth planners, my focus is on lifestyle financial planning.
I focus on a client’s goals, where my clients are now, and where they want to be in the future. I work with clients to help them build the right plan to achieve their dreams, whatever they may be.
Together, we build the plan, work out the best ways to fund it, and then I help clients stick to the plan.
First Wealth clients aren’t accumulating money for the sake of it; there’s always a goal, or several lifestyle goals that we are working towards.
I’m also very involved in our education initiative, Let’s Talk About Money, designed to educate young people about money and provide relatable, accessible information in a fun, relaxed, and easy way.
What is the most valuable piece of financial advice anyone ever gave you?
Put away whatever is affordable and start doing it as soon as possible. Whether that’s saving or investing as little as £10 a month, just start.
And take advantage of incentives and opportunities, too. For example, (if suitable for your goals) by contributing to a Lifetime ISA, depending on what you pay in, the government will add a bonus.
The same is true with pensions. Take advantage of workplace pensions and you’ll get the tax benefits from the government and the contribution from your employer.
Many young people don’t realise the value of this and, because retirement seems like a distant thing that’s not relevant to them right now, they pass up on what is essentially free money, which is crazy!
What is your favourite part of your role?
Meeting people. I always feel privileged that people trust me to talk about things that are deeply personal. Money is traditionally a taboo topic, so building trust and talking openly with the clients I work with is something I treasure.
Because many clients who come to us for help are entrepreneurs, I’m constantly meeting interesting and inspiring people. I find their stories fascinating but it’s also interesting to listen to them talk about their spending and their relationship with money.
Also, many people come to us when they are approaching a big life transition. So, a large part of my job is to help them get from their starting point to their end goal. Seeing that journey from start to finish and helping them achieve sometimes life-changing dreams is really rewarding.
First Wealth is a B Corp and a very innovative, multi-award-winning company. What does the future hold?
Setting new standards for the financial planning profession.
Having worked at different companies, I think First Wealth are setting a great example in the financial planning space.
One thing we do differently to other companies is that we are constantly looking for ways to improve things. If things don’t work, we will look to improve them.
As an example, onboarding new clients used to be quite disjointed. There was a lot of back and forth asking clients for this or that, but now we have digitised the entire process with our own onboarding software. It’s pretty much unheard of that financial advice companies would do that.
We set out to make the process as easy as possible for our clients. We wanted it to be interactive. We wanted it to be seamless. And then we went away and built the software we needed.
As our new onboarding software shows, we’re definitely moving towards digital. And this is a great starting point for working towards making financial advice accessible for everyone.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to become a financial planner?
Do your research. Look at different companies because they can vary so much in our world and look at the company culture.
A good culture fit is really important. You’re going to be building your client base and relationships with these clients, so find somewhere that you can see yourself long term.
Make sure you’re confident that you choose the right company, that you believe in their ethos and the things that they’re doing and recommending to their clients.
And explore the different roles available. Yes, there’s the financial planner role, but there are other types too. Compliance, for example, where you’re reviewing the financial planning reports, or technical analyst, which is where I began and can be a great way to build up your knowledge and confidence.
Next, I recommend that you study hard. Take your exams, build your knowledge, and learn your trade on the job.
And, alongside all of this, remember to work on the soft skills it takes to be a great financial planner.
What did the pandemic teach you about financial planning?
How much you can get done when you’re not in the office!
Financial planning is all about people – building relationships and trust – and the pandemic taught us that actually we can still communicate and have these important conversations, albeit through Zoom or Microsoft Teams.
I’ve also found that sometimes people are more comfortable in their homes. Instead of meeting in an unfamiliar office, you’re in your own space, you know that you can just turn the laptop on two minutes before the meeting starts. This flexibility of choosing to meet in person or on a video call suits the needs of more people.
Finally, how important it is to have a plan and an emergency fund. So, if something unexpected happens, you have a solid foundation to fall back on, allowing you to focus on everything else, rather than worrying about the financial side of things.
What do you think the future of financial planning looks like?
I think it’s going to be more digital. Our onboarding software is only the beginning, but this will help us reach more people and allow us to provide affordable financial advice to those who might previously have been left on the sidelines.
As a sector, we should be doing more to engage younger generations with financial planning, and forward-thinking, digital solutions are a vital part of that.
This document is marketing material for a retail audience and does not constitute advice or recommendations. Past performance is not a guide to future performance and may not be repeated. The value of investments and the income from them may go down as well as up and investors may not get back the amount originally invested.