Confessions of a Career Changer: Changing Careers

The idea of changing careers can feel like a monumental mission, especially when you’ve invested years into your current path. However, sometimes taking that leap of faith can lead to new opportunities and personal growth. Here’s how nine individuals feel about their own career changes into financial advice 10 years on.

Looking Back on That Initial Decision to Change Career

10 years ago, nine individuals walked through the doors of the St. James’s Place Financial Adviser Academy about to embark upon changing careers that would change their lives for years to come.

Full of ambition, motivation, and a touch of nerves, Amanda, Marlene, Ike, Lloyd, Catherine, Jamie, Matthew, Nicholas, and Jordan took the plunge to retrain in financial advice, and now with over a decade of hindsight, they explain everything they learnt along the way. The highs, the lows, and everything in between – and how the experience has gifted them with a support network that will last a lifetime.

Retaining Can Be Life Changing

Before becoming a business owner at St. James’s Place, Amanda Redman was Marketing Director at a multi-national corporation. With a prosperous future ahead of her, Amanda could have easily remained on her previous path. She explains: “I was looking for something completely different from the corporate world. Without the Acad­­emy opportunity I really don’t think I would have retrained. But it has transformed my life and I’ve never regretted the decision to change.”

Similarly – or perhaps contrastingly – Lloyd Magee spent 12 months working as a personal trainer after a four-year stint in the military before deciding to pursue a new route. “Being a personal trainer, I really enjoyed working with people, but I realised I would have a relatively short career in that field. I wanted something where I could build long-term relationships.”

Matthew Rolland was equally ready to build a legacy when he left his previous role as a hedge fund manager: “I was fed up with the early starts and sitting in front of a bank of screens watching the numbers jump about. I preferred the interactions with real people. The Academy provided me with the opportunity to pursue that.”

Skills Developed Over a Previous Career Can be Foundational

There is no set career path that leads to the Academy, or indeed to a career in financial advice. It’s about having the right mindset to take the plunge.

‘If you’re a people person and like learning then this is really a fantastic career”, says Marlene Francisco, when asked about her career change. “The Academy is a fantastic way to retrain and learn what it is to be a financial adviser. I feel really privileged to be in this position.”

Amanda equally reflects on her journey with immense gratitude. “We left feeling very optimistic about our futures and really pleased we made that big decision to retrain in our careers,” she shares. “It’s all centred on doing the right thing for our clients. That’s what motivates all of us.” Amanda emphasises that without the Academy opportunity, she would never have embarked on this fulfilling path. “To be my own boss, to be able to run my own business and make my own decisions… I’m still convinced that it’s absolutely the best training opportunity and second career opportunity that exists.”

There’s often a preconception that you need to be a whizz at maths or a fountain of knowledge in financial services to make it as a financial adviser. In reality, it’s the people skills, the resilience and the empathy developed over a previous career that builds the foundations of a successful adviser.

Evolving With Your Career Can be Personally Rewarding

It’s never easy building a new career from scratch, and the individuals who embarked on their journey with the Academy 10 years ago can attest to this.

All nine career changers encountered various challenges as they navigated the early years of their financial advising profession. They faced a steep learning curve, acquiring new skills and adapting to the demands of their new roles. Yet, through perseverance and the support of the Academy, they overcame these hurdles and experienced tremendous growth both personally and professionally: “It’s fun but challenging, and you’re constantly evolving” says Marlene. “It’s been phenomenal for me, the personal growth… building the relationships with my clients has been incredibly rewarding.”

Similarly, Ike Benson, who started his career on the trading floor and later transitioned into financial advice, says: “Stick to it. Finding my path through the Academy was perfect for me and worked out well… I’d recommend it to anybody who has the right mindset for it.”

Catherine Simmonds, who transitioned into financial advice after a career as a fund manager, also explains that wealth management is a growth industry. “The Academy offered the option for me to retrain and end up with my own practice in a relatively short space of time,” she shares. “I really enjoy what I do, and I will be doing this until I retire,” she says. “It’s a fantastic springboard to get into a changing careers; there aren’t many opportunities like that to move from one career to another that’s quite different.”

When asked for her top piece of advice, Amanda says “have faith that business will come, because it does.”

Embrace the Support Around You

When joining the Academy, individuals join a ‘cohort’ – a group of up to 20 people that progress through the programme together. The bond formed within these Academy cohorts often plays a pivotal role in shaping the career paths of the individuals who retrain.

Nicholas Cox, who switched careers from broker to adviser, highlights the importance of a supportive community, stating, “It’s being able to approach those people who have become friends and ask them anything because we are here to support each other.” He credits the Academy’s backing and support for helping him reach his goals: “There’s a lot to financial advice. We can support each other to get there.”

The connections forged during their time together have proven to be lasting and impactful. The group have become more than just colleagues; they have become a tight-knit community. This network has served as a constant source of support, collaboration, and continuous learning throughout their 10-year journey.

Ex-sales trader Jordan Davison equally cherishes the lasting friendships forged through the Academy. “We built good friendships thankfully, and they have lasted a long time – we’re still in touch now!” he shares. Reflecting on the journey, he says, “As time progresses, you see the benefit of that hard work. It’s been a pleasure having the journey with them, and long may it continue. I’m sure over the years we will stay in touch, and I can’t wait for what more is to come.”

It’s not just the cohort that makes the journey worth it. Amanda explains ‘It’s all centred on doing the right thing for our clients. This is what motivates all of us.’

Changing Careers is a Turning Point That Takes a Career to New Heights

Jamie Pollard, who made the switch from equity to financial advice after facing a health scare, believes that his decision was the right one. “When I was 26, I was diagnosed with thyroid cancer, and that gave me the kick to leave something that I was good at but not enjoying as much as I wanted to,” he recalls. “10 years on I have no doubts that it was the right decision to make”. Leaving behind the familiarity of a career he excelled in but didn’t love, Jamie took a leap of faith, and has never looked back.

Now, ten years have passed, and the testimony from Jamie and his eight peers resounds in unison—changing careers was the turning point that took their careers to new heights.

Their experiences not only underline the limitless opportunities for personal and professional growth, but also demonstrate the rewards that await those willing to embrace change. There is clarity in hindsight, and Amanda, Marlene, Ike, Lloyd, Catherine, Jamie, Matthew, Nicholas, and Jordan have proven that a leap of faith can lead to a life of fulfilment, purpose, and no regrets.