Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 17 September 2014

Me&MyJob: Going over and above client expectations

Beth Kelly

Beth Kelly, Para-planner with S Hill & Co investment advisors

What does your job entail?

I work for a local firm of independent financial advisers. As independent advisers, this means we are not owned by any parent company or bank and we must research the whole market in making our recommendations to clients.

My job title is ‘para-planner’ which effectively means that I work alongside the financial advisers in researching financial advice, products and investments to recommend to clients. There are literally dozens of product providers, insurance companies and investment houses available for us to choose from in the UK market. Many products such as pensions and ISAs offer a choice of hundreds of investment funds to |select.

As a firm of independent financial advisers, we have to observe a very high level of research and have to be able to clearly document how we select one product or fund out of the entire UK marketplace.

Every client will have different objectives, timescales and priorities. What is most suitable for one client will not necessarily be suitable for another.

The research of products and investments is a large part of offering truly independent financial advice to clients.

And that’s the part of the job that really interests me — research and recommendation — to make sure that our service brings something to the client over and above what they expect.

Is it 9 – 5?

Not quite. We like to try to get into work for about 8am for when the markets are opening. At most times of the year, we will finish up about 5pm, although in the run up to the tax year end in March, we will be extremely busy and then we put in whatever time is |needed.

However, the managing partners put in the extra hours throughout the year as and when there is client need.

How did you get into this line of work?

I have a degree in European Business Studies. In my final year I studied financial institutions and markets and realised that this was an area in which I had a real interest.

Almost by chance, when I left university a recruitment agency put me forward for a role with Standard Life Assurance Company. Once I started working in financial services, I really enjoyed it and decided that my future career was definitely in this field.

Outline your career to date?

Once I joined Standard Life, I became very interested in the sales side of the business and I progressed to be an accountant consultant dealing with a panel of local firms of financial advisers in a business development role.

I worked for Standard Life for eight years in total. I then moved on to Clerical Medical as an |account manager, also in the business development side of their business.

Whilst working with Clerical Medical, I met the partners of S Hill & Co and they offered me a position to come on board to work as a researcher and financial |planner.

Tell us about your qualifications / training...

I secured a 2:1 degree in European Business Studies. Then when I was at Standard Life, I passed the Financial Planning Certificate which is the basic qualification required to be a financial adviser. I have since achieved the Diploma in Financial Services which |required many more exams in specialist fields such as tax and pensions.

We also have a great deal of on-going training and personal development within the job to keep up to date with industry developments.

What qualities are required for your job – personal and professional?

From a professional point of view I have to be very organised and thorough as Financial Services is very heavily regulated particularly for independent advisers, so we must have a clear audit trail of our advice process.

We have to keep records to demonstrate every stage in |our advice process and its suitability.

Like many industries, financial services is now very technology driven and having good IT |skills also helps as we have access to many different websites, research tools and pieces of software to assist with client recommendations and product selection.

From a personal point of view, I particularly enjoy meeting new people and building upon our relationships with existing clients. I’ve been with S Hill & Co for three-and-a-half years now and have seen the benefits of having close relationships with our clients.

What is the best advice you ever received?

My mum always told me that if you can’t think of anything good to say about a person, say nothing at all. I think this is very wise advice.

How do you like to spend your spare time?

I like travelling, cooking, walking my dog and I’m trying to learn how to play golf – although that may take a long time.

Tell us an interesting fact about yourself?

I love going on roller coasters — the scarier the better!

Who has inspired you most in your life?

When I was a child I was v inspired reading about Marie Curie. She won two different Nobel Prizes at a time when many women weren’t educated at all. She proved how much women could achieve academically if only given the same opportunities as men.

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