The theme of International Women’s Day 2022 is ‘break the bias’. In an industry (financial services) that is still male-dominated, Lucas Fettes Financial Planning are proud to be different.

To help shed some light on this, break the bias concerning what a career path should look like, and to encourage more women to seek a financial planning career, we have asked three members of our team to share their experiences as they pursued their careers in the financial services industry.  

We hope you find their stories interesting.

Kerry Holmes

Kerry is a Director and Independent Financial Adviser at Lucas Fettes. She recounts her career journey below:

“I joined Lucas Fettes nearly 10 years ago, but my journey started long before this. My first financial services role was at Virgin PFS as a call centre operative, dealing with PEPs, pensions and life cover. Subsequently, I spent time working for Norwich Union, Friends Provident and Grant Thornton. 

I have always been driven; with a desire to deliver to the best of my ability and I place pretty high standards on myself. When I joined Lucas Fettes, it wasn’t initially a goal of mine to join the board of directors. That being said, I didn’t fall into the role either. 

Kerry Holmes
If I had to sum it up, I would simply say that I made the most of each opportunity that was presented to me. It definitely helped that I share the same ethos as the leadership team at Lucas Fettes. We always strive to do what is best for our clients and central to this is understanding what drives them, both financially and personally. It’s also about working collaboratively as a team and understanding that everyone needs help and support no matter how experienced they are. It’s a lesson I try to pass on to new joiners.

I have often said that I could’ve benefitted from a mentor early in my journey, instead of having to find my way on my own. It’s because of this that I mentor both aspiring financial planners at Lucas Fettes, as well as out-of-hours via the Princes Trust. I’ve always enjoyed seeing people achieve their potential and this is my way of giving back. As for how well this has gone, you’d have to ask Nathan and Jasmina!

A good work-life balance is also very important to success. Having always worked full time, I can vouch for the fact that it’s quite easy to burnout under task management pressure. It isn’t healthy! My opinion is that communication and organisation are key to achieving the right balance. It’s important to leave work at the door at the end of the day, but in a manner that tasks can be picked up by another member of the team if required, so you can enjoy your time off. I became quite adept at this earlier in my career, trying to juggle my client commitments with my role as a mum.

To anyone aspiring to work in the financial services industry, I would say that you can achieve your goals with enough determination – don’t let anyone tell you any differently and try not to compare yourself with others. There are many roads to the same end goal, it just may be that your path winds differently to others. Make the most of the opportunities that come your way and take the time to learn lessons from anybody kind enough to share their experiences with you.
I think we manage this well at Lucas Fettes, providing equal opportunities for new joiners and existing members of the team. We are quite different in terms of our personnel too, bucking the typical financial services trend, given that the majority of our team are women.”

You can find out more about Kerry via our short Q&A, ‘Have you met Kerry Holmes?’.

Jasmina Grabham

Jasmina is an Independent Financial Adviser at Lucas Fettes. She really appreciates the support she has received throughout her career so far, particularly during her recent training to move into an advisory role.

“I started at Lucas Fettes as a financial planning assistant in 2017, providing administration support to financial planners.

I was in this role for 3 years and learned a lot about the industry throughout this time. Following this, I began a hybrid role which involved providing technical admin support to one financial planner, as well as drafting paraplanning reports for others. This increased responsibility enabled me to develop new skills, whilst I continued to study towards my Level 4 Diploma in Regulated Financial Planning.

Jasmina Grabham

I attained my diploma in 2021 and then moved into a full-time paraplanning role; however, my career goal was to become an Independent Financial Adviser. Lucas Fettes have always been aware of this and continue to provide me with the relevant training to achieve this. My motivation to be a financial planner stems from my social skills and inclination to help people. From a personal standpoint, I also want to have a successful career which allows me to be independent and achieve my non-career orientated targets.

I feel very lucky to work at Lucas Fettes, as we have a number of women who are financial planners and in senior management positions. This shows that there aren’t any barriers for women here – if you work hard, you can go as far as you want. I am grateful to have Kerry as my mentor too, as she has had a very successful financial planning career and is willing to help me develop and progress.

I’m not sure how much support I would receive at other firms, so I appreciate the opportunities available at Lucas Fettes. It isn’t a secret that the industry is very male-dominated, but as the average age for an IFA is also around 50, I believe the industry would benefit massively from young female financial planners. I think we can bring a modern approach to financial planning, whilst making use of the wealth of experience brought by the other senior financial planners and support staff in our respective firms.

My top tip for anyone following a similar career path would be to believe in yourself. It’s easy to underestimate your abilities and perhaps be intimidated by the many successful people you will meet. I’m guilty of this myself, sometimes lacking self-confidence and not believing in my skills, abilities and experience – so it’s important to remember not to compare, as these people are later on in their careers. Another thing would be to make use of the resources and support you may have around you and use this as much as you can to develop yourself.”

Katie Pawlowicz

Katie is a Paraplanner at Lucas Fettes, having recently transitioned from our admin team – which has been her career goal. 

“I got my first financial planning assistant role in 2013; however, I wouldn’t attempt to attain my Level 4 Diploma in Regulated Financial Planning for a few years.

It wasn’t that I lacked ambition, I simply valued my free time during that period and attaining the diploma would require extensive study. Plus, I was confident in my own ability and continued to work hard, regardless of whether I had the diploma or not.

Katie Pawlowicz
I’m not entirely sure what changed, but I eventually decided that my career goal was to become a Paraplanner, and this would most definitely require the full diploma. My previously employer made it clear that they couldn’t facilitate a new opportunity for me; therefore, I joined Lucas Fettes in 2018. They made it clear from the interview stage that, if I worked towards my diploma, they would do their utmost to help me progress in my career.

Since joining, I have worked very hard to pass each of my remaining exams and did so in 2021. Following this, Jane (Operations Director) put a schedule in place for me to transition from the admin team. I have been in training since November 2021 and have really enjoyed it so far. The training plan Matt (Head of Paraplanning) has implemented sets a nice pace and the team are very helpful.

For a lot of people, the next career step would be to move into an advisory role. Whilst this isn’t an ambition of mine at present, I know that if this did change later, Lucas Fettes would be open to supporting me.

For anyone who’s looking to move into the financial services industry, I would say to go at your own pace but work hard once you have your heart set on a particular career goal.”

Find out more

Did you know that we have actively committed to the Women in Finance Charter? Find out more.

If you would like to join our team, visit our careers page.

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