Why a career change needn’t mean turning away from the industry you love 

woman going through a career change

There is a huge amount of demand from people looking for trusted financial advice with a growing number of ‘mass affluent’ individuals in the UK.

*Mass affluent applies to individuals in the UK with between £50,000 and £5 million of investable assets. This demographic is projected to rise from 11 million in 2021 to 13 million by 2024*. 

But the number of qualified advisers is in decline. The average age of a financial adviser is 57 in the UK. As these individuals start to retire, this is creating an advice gap.  

There are a few different ways to meet the growing need for more qualified professionals, for example more careers advice for young people. But the industry is seeing a growing number of aspiring entrepreneurs ‘career changing’ to the profession and filling this gap.

They all have in common a realisation of lifestyle and career aspirations which made starting a financial advice business an attractive proposition. Emily Man, 50 from London, demonstrates that there are also a wide variety of complementary skills that can transferred from her previous role that now benefit her in her financial advice business.

Here is Emily’s story: 

When it comes to career histories, Emily Man, is rightly proud of her 20-year stint in film and TV production. It was a career that saw her travel the world and was so varied that the only thing Emily was sure of was change. It led her to a high-profile role in advertising for the global firm Saatchi and Saatchi, but the next rung in the ladder is perhaps more of a surprise. Emily has taken everything she has learnt about film, TV and advertising over the years and used it to build her own business as a financial adviser, supporting those in the creative industry. Emily has proved that a sideways step into a new field doesn’t always mean leaving an industry that she loves.  

Emily has a thriving partner practice of St. James’s Place and alumni of the St. James’s Place Financial Adviser Academy. She is proving how people from a diversity of backgrounds can become entrepreneurs in the financial advice market.  

It’s an industry that’s set to face an ‘advice gap’ with the number of advisers in decline and many people with a variety of backgrounds are finding themselves suited to this profession. 

The only thing to be sure of was change 

Emily reflects fondly back on the 20-year career as a film and TV producer, which in her 20s and 30s took her around the world multiple times. Working in film and TV gave Emily so much opportunity to exhibit her passion for storytelling and creativity, while a sharp corporate mind was needed to secure funding for each project.  

Emily comments, “In amongst running a production and coaching company, and everything that was involved including managing teams and finances, I was living contract to contract – it was high octane. I had a huge amount of diversity to my role – no day was ever the same. In fact, the only thing I was sure of was change. But getting married and with a desire to start a family, it eventually led me to look for something more stable.” 

A step towards stability 

Emily joined the global firm Saatchi and Saatchi as head of production as part of a move into advertising. In this role, she continued her passion for storytelling and managing people and teams, but with the backing of a larger company where she was delivering on corporate goals.  

Working for a big brand gave Emily the backing and infrastructure that she could call on, whilst allowing her to flourish creatively in her career, but it was no less challenging. Emily comments, “Working for Saatchi and Saatchi was a step towards me settling down, but the reality was that it was still a highly demanding role, similar to what I had previously been doing. It involved long hours and a long commute.  

“At the time we were going through the process of having IVF. When I eventually gave birth to our twin girls, I knew that something had to give in favour of cultivating the family life we wanted.” 

A new direction 

When Emily’s twins were three months old, Saatchi and Saatchi offered her redundancy which she took to relieve her of the challenging hours and commute that she would otherwise face. But she had no idea what to do next or where her next turn would take her. 

It was during a conversation with a friend in the wealth management industry that the prospect of applying to the St James’s Place Financial Adviser Academy arose. He was adamant that she would enjoy the career of a financial adviser and Emily was inspired by his words. Although Emily confessed to having no prior idea of what it meant to be a financial planner, she thought it was worth looking into. 

Emily explains, “Following my discussion with my friend, I spoke with other financial advisers to get a flavour of what the role might entail, but no other company was offering what St. James’s Place could in terms of the opportunity and support” 

Hungry for information 

Emily applied to the St. James’s Place Financial Adviser Academy in July 2016 ready for the September 2016 intake. This involved completing her RO1 exam and the interview process in less than six weeks – no small undertaking – which secured her place in the Academy. The programme itself was six-months to pass the necessary qualifications and learn how to run her own financial adviser business. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic it involved her spending three to four days per week in London. The programme is now delivered more flexibly. 

Emily recalls, “The experience of going through the Academy was not for the faint hearted, especially with nine-month-old twins at home. My husband took six months paternity leave to allow me the time to study, but it still involved me sleeping on the floor of the classroom at lunchtime! Looking back, I’m not sure how I did it, but I was hungry for information as I hadn’t retrained or learnt anything new for a long time. Importantly, it was also a move towards stability and that’s what I needed for me and my family.” 

This is it 

Once Emily graduated from the Academy, the hard work started in earnest. The first two years of the business were the most challenging with Emily working hard to build up her client base, whilst supporting her family and juggling childcare costs. Emily comments, “Although it was difficult, there wasn’t any point that I regretted it. I knew that the business would come if I worked hard enough, and I knew that I didn’t want to get back to production or to work for anybody else. This was it. I had to make it work!” 

Along the way, Emily felt supported by St. James’s Place in more ways than one. Not only did this include one-to-one support throughout the course of her exams, but the company also provided her with financial support too. Juggling her business and family life, Emily comments that this ‘made it all possible’ for her.  

Taking centre stage 

It wasn’t long before Emily found her feet in the business sense, and it came down to harnessing what she already knew…the film and TV industry. Emily knew in detail the challenges of those working within the industry; for example, they didn’t have support for pensions, and they often lack the resource, support and understanding of how to deal with their finances.  

Emily quickly realised that the primary place for her finding new clients would be within the places she’d already worked. This involved her taking the floor to host seminars through industry groups such as Women in Film and TV, the Production Guild and Directors UK. Sometimes this also meant visiting private companies in the industry that wanted to offer financial advice for their employees.  

Approaching this audience, Emily explains that it was vital that she had first-hand experience of the market, “Not only did I know the financial needs of those working within the industry, I also understood what it’s like to be working in it. You need to be incredibly galvanised as an individual as you could be working intensely in production for three to eight months with minimal contact with the outside world, therefore the last thing they want is to feel patronised about their finances. It also helps to be unfazed about what it is they do – and the fact that it involves famous people. That being said, they work in an industry where knowledge of how to look after your future wealth is imperative, so there is a lot to gain from financial advice.” 

“Life affirming” career 

Five years after graduating from the Academy, Emily’s business is flying with 220 clients on her books, a full time PA and two paraplanners working alongside her. The business is averaging two to three new clients every month, so Emily is already looking ahead to recruiting another financial adviser by the end of the year. She has no doubt that she will look to recruit somebody from within the film and TV industry to help her to build on her business. 

Emily comments, “I’m extremely thankful that I still get to work in an industry that I love, but rather than manage film projects, I’m helping to manage people’s wealth – something that I feel even more passionate about. I see the impact of the work that I do – even when clients are in a difficult time in their lives, going through a divorce or caring for elderly parents, everything that I do has a positive effect on their lives. It’s incredibly life affirming.” 

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