Gemma graduated in 2003 with a degree in Pharmaceutical Sciences from Greenwich University. Having previously studied for a Chemistry HNC at Portsmouth University, Gemma was looking for a career change and wanted to make sure that what she did next would challenge her sufficiently and offer good long term prospects - the potential to become self-employed was also an attractive prospect.
My first role was at a major insurance company as a development account consultant. I started at the bottom of the ladder as I had no previous experience in financial services and I’d spoken to a lot of recruitment agencies for advice. I found Reed particularly helpful; they were even able to advise me on the examination route. I managed to secure the first role I applied for - it was a development panel role, basically chasing up dead/old accounts and converting them to viable business. Not quite as glamorous as I’d hoped, but going straight in at the deep end really built my confidence.
My advice for getting into this business is to do your research and be prepared to commit. I had to sit five exams in my first nine months to get my Certificate in Financial Planning and I’m currently sitting the diploma level. I find that the exams and your own personal knowledge are such a strong element of the job, you must be prepared to go back to homework and study mode.
Having completed a degree already, I found it relatively easy to fall back into a pattern of study and found that I was actually working at a faster pace than my colleagues. The social skills I’d learnt from university paid dividends; being an adviser means you must be able to network confidently and this is something that’s often over looked.
Although I felt that my chemistry degree was irrelevant when starting out in finance, I came across many other advisers in the profession with the same or a similar degree. It appears quite a few science graduates choose to take this path - perhaps it’s something to do with having an analytical mind!
My role has since developed and I’m now a fully-fledged sales consultant. This involves being assigned my own accounts and targets. The market is pretty tough at the moment but starting at the bottom really put me in a good position. I quickly got used to putting in the time and effort to turn cold accounts into warm ones and overcoming hurdles just makes the job more challenging. I’ve also learnt to be persistent, as relationships take time.
The tasks I carry out in my role can be described in a word - sell. I sell myself, my company and the products they offer. It’s important to have faith in all three in order to be successful in this job.
My favourite part of the work has to be the social side. I’ve attended some exciting events, such as Ascot and Henley, and met some fantastic people. I appreciate a role where you can combine work and play. The downsides can be long hours and sometimes spending a huge amount of time stuck in a car or delayed at an airport. You can be away from home for quite a bit of time initially, but once you’ve established your accounts and contacts, you can often re-assess the best way forward for future communication.
This website is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with CSS enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets if you are able to do so.