We recently caught up with Laura, an Investment Manager at JM Finn, about her career journey. She gives a great insight into life at the firm alongside, some top tips to achieve success in the wealth management sector.
Tell us a little bit about yourself and your career journey from Graduate to Investment Manager
I studied History at Lancaster University and decided that I wanted to enter the world of Finance when I graduated. However, I really struggled to understand the options available to me and ended up accepting a role on a graduate scheme at the Daily Mail, working as a Business Analyst. A serendipitous moment occurred when I was introduced to the Head of Investment Management at JM Finn and a few weeks later an opportunity arose to join the firm on a temporary contract. I spent the first year at JM Finn working as an Executive Assistant to the Head of Investment Management and it gave me a great insight into the firm, and the financial services industry in general. I was then invited to join the pilot Graduate Trainee programme, working in the various different departments in the firm whilst studying for my Investment Advice Diploma (IAD). I gained experience in Risk, Compliance, Wealth Planning, Research and Investment Administration, whilst also working on various Investment Management desks, including a stint in our Bristol office. Once I completed this year of training, I then took a permanent position on an Investment desk in the London office, whilst sitting the Chartered Wealth Management exams. Throughout these two years, I was promoted from Desk Assistant to Assistant Investment Manager. Once I qualified, I was able to start assisting with the management of client portfolios and portfolio construction. I am now the “Number 2”, working alongside an Investment Director managing £370m on behalf of 400 clients.
What’s been a key highlight from your time at JM Finn?
There have been quite a few fortunately! Passing my exams and becoming a qualified Investment Manager was definitely a key highlight, as it rewarded all of the hard work and effort I put into studying. I was also recognised at the Future Leaders Awards evening in the Assistant Investment Manager of the Year category, and I was nominated at the Women in Financial Advice awards for Role Model of the Year. It is always nice to be recognised externally in the industry as well as internally within the firm.
What do you enjoy most about working in the sector?
Being an Investment Manager means that no two days are the same, which is something I really enjoy. At JM Finn, the role of the Investment Manager combines the relationship manager role and portfolio management. This means that we are responsible for investing clients’ funds directly and also meeting with them frequently to assess their objectives and current situation. It is very rewarding to build out a successful portfolio for a client to help them achieve their goals and structure their investments accordingly. I also really enjoy the research side of the role, reading copious amounts of articles, newspapers and reports and putting forward investment ideas based on this information.
How would you describe the culture at the firm?
There is definitely a culture of you get out what you put in, which I believe fosters a culture of people working hard for similar goals and objectives. There are always lots of opportunities to learn and develop your skills, and there is an “open door” policy, where everyone is willing to assist with any queries or issues you might be facing. We have a mentoring scheme where you can apply to have a mentor, who is normally somebody senior within the firm. This is a great initiative as it helps guide you through your career and I have found that it stops me from making some of the mistakes that my mentor has experienced before.
What does Diversity & Inclusion look like at JM Finn?
As with most financial services firms, there is a long way to go before JM Finn reaches equity across gender and ethnicity, however it is something that we are fully aware of and are trying to address. I sit on the D&I Committee, and we meet frequently to discuss initiatives that can assist with improving our diversity. These include the mentoring scheme mentioned above, introducing a Women’s Network internally and presenting at schools and colleges around the UK to promote financial services as a career option for young women and help to demystify the industry. JM Finn is committed to removing the barriers that there might be for women and ethnic minorities in the workplace and our policies on recruitment, parental leave and agile working reflect this.
What are your top tips for members wanting to achieve a successful career in the wealth management sector?
Take every opportunity that comes to you. Some of the things that I have found most interesting in my career have been the things that I was sceptical of at first. These have included some very interesting conferences and working in different departments, which I didn’t think would be to my preference. Your personal brand and reputation are incredibly important in any career and by taking opportunities that arise, you are able to build this up and forge your own path, which I think is really important.
What advice would you give for those wanting to stand out in their JM Finn application?
First and foremost, our business is investing, and I would therefore suggest that understanding the fundamentals of the investment market would make you stand out in your JM Finn application. This could be through reading books on investing, or by starting your investment journey and buying your first stock or fund. It doesn’t have to be much money, however doing a small amount of research and then tracking the progress of your decision, will help you appreciate the market and the fundamental business of JM Finn.
Anything else you’d like to add?
It is important to know that being an Investment Manager is not the only role at JM Finn, and there is a huge amount of careers that you can choose from. Therefore, if you don’t think that the research and decision making involved in the investing side of the business are for you, you could join the firm in Marketing, Finance, Compliance, Wealth Planning, Risk, Investment Administration or Business Operations. There really is a role for everyone.
Keen to find out more? Check out their profile here.