Matthew France, Client Relationship Manager (CRM) at First Wealth, specialises in delivering excellent service to our clients. He is also studying towards his Level 4 Diploma in Financial Planning with the Chartered Institute.
We caught up with Matthew to find out more about his journey so far, what he has learned from the Covid-19 pandemic, and his advice to anyone who wants a career in the financial services profession.
Can you tell us more about your role and what you do?
I’m a Client Relationship Manager and work closely with Claire Phillips and Peter Slot – although I’ve only been on the team for a little over a month.
I like to think of my role as being a facilitator. We help the financial advisers and technical analysts with whatever they require, freeing them up to do their jobs more efficiently and, ultimately, serve clients better.
Every day is different. My tasks include prepping for client meetings, reviewing packs and valuations. We liaise with clients before and after meetings, assisting with paperwork or any other requests.
It’s nice to build a rapport with clients because we’re emailing all the time but speaking on the phone or meeting them in person is great.
We also liaise with providers. I’ve only been in the financial profession since the start of 2022, but you soon learn your favourite and least favourite providers.
What are your specialties?
I’m a fast learner! Having only been here a month, I don’t feel completely useless now. I pick things up quite quickly and I’m part of a good team.
Everybody is happy to help. It doesn’t matter what kind of question you have; people are really willing to just jump on a call and show me how to do things.
Also, attention to detail is key for this role. Getting anything wrong delays a lot of processes for everybody involved. It’s the nature of the job. You have a lot of plates spinning. I can’t miss any steps – and there are quite a lot of steps in everything we do.
Lastly, probably patience. When I’m sat on the phone to a provider for hours, it’s one of those things you have to do, I don’t mind that. Patience helps during stressful situations, too.
What is the most valuable piece of financial advice anyone ever gave you?
I’ve not really had that much good or, in fact, any financial advice growing up. That’s why it’s so important to make financial advice more accessible to a wider audience because it’s not easily available.
Before I started working in this profession, I was aware of the world of finance, but you don’t realise how it breaks up.
My background is in accountancy. From that, you’d think you know about the world of money, but you don’t. You’re not aware of it in the advice sense unless you go out and look for it. It isn’t something we really talked about growing up.
When you get out of school into adulthood and start getting paid a salary, you have zero idea about your taxes, National Insurance contributions, or paying into a work pension. There’s a big gap before financial advice enters your life.
It would be very valuable for people to learn at a younger age, and I’m really encouraged by the work we’re doing through Thrive Money, which is helping to bridge this gap.
Since being in the profession, I’ve seen first-hand the value of solid financial advice and the positive impact it can have on clients’ lives. So, I guess the most valuable piece of financial advice I’ve been “given” is to get some!
What is your favourite part of your role?
How varied it is every day. It’s never linear.
I mentioned earlier about spinning a lot of plates. That’s how it feels. You’re flicking between calls dealing with one client to the next. It keeps the day interesting.
I’m also studying for my Diploma in Regulated Financial Planning. I’m halfway through, and it’s nice to come back to work and see the things I’ve read about being applied during the day. It beds down my knowledge and feels good when something clicks.
First Wealth is a B-Corp and a very innovative, multi-award-winning company. What does the future hold?
Although I’ve only been in the profession a short time, I can see already that First Wealth stands out from the rest of the industry.
One thing I did before joining First Wealth was to write down my core values. First Wealth matched them all.
It doesn’t feel like your traditional pyramid hierarchy with people at the top who you don’t really speak to. They’ve built a great culture that allows everybody’s voice to be heard. There are opportunities to get involved in different things that are outside of your job description.
We’re at the forefront, a pioneering financial planning company. With our culture, I think we set the standard for other financial planning companies to imitate.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to work in the financial services industry?
Speak to somebody in the profession. Ask about their day-to-day experience. Message them on LinkedIn. Most people are really happy to share their experiences. And it’s how I got into the industry.
I was at a crossroads trying to decide if I wanted to go into Chartered accountancy. Deciding against it, I was left wondering what I could do that wouldn’t completely lose the value of my accountancy qualification.
Through reading and listening to podcasts, I stumbled across financial advice. I was looking at local practices around where I’m based and I messaged this young financial adviser and I just said to her, “How did you get into the industry? Do you have any advice for me?”
We had a brief conversation and she asked for my email. She sent my email address to a few places she knew, and I got a job. So, I think it’s good to just ask people. If you see somebody on LinkedIn and like the look of what they do, drop them a message.
After my early experience, I spoke to as many advisers as I could and got a mentor. He sat me down and said, “Write down your core values and then try and find the company you want to work for that aligns with that.” That’s how I came across First Wealth. I applied directly and ended up here.
Financial advice is deeply personal. You wouldn’t go to some random person you don’t really know and speak about it. I always try to think of it from the other person’s perspective. When I meet a financial adviser I think: “Would I want to sit in front of this person and ask for financial advice?”
Here at First Wealth, there are so many people I’d happily sit down with and go through my own finances.
What did the pandemic teach you about financial planning?
The importance of an emergency fund. Nobody knows what’s around the corner. It just shows it pays to be prepared. If you’ve got your finances in place when something like that happens, it’s one less thing you have to worry about.
What do you think the future of financial planning looks like?
Hopefully more diverse, in terms of age, gender, and race. According to the FTAdviser only 16% of all advisers in the UK are women. 84% is a lot of men, so obviously I’m not helping to balance the numbers.
There’s an age disparity as well. Hopefully, by the time I retire, I’ll be able to look back and see positive change in the profession.
What are the most valuable lessons you’ve learned working with entrepreneurs?
We’ve got a vast array of clients. It’s so interesting learning what they do and what businesses they run. I see different industries that you’d never think were an option growing up.
In a traditional curriculum, we’re not taught to think outside the box. Our clients show me the importance of thinking outside the box – it pays off.
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.