Posted by: dweitz November 27th, 2017

A year ago, I decided to make the leap from Primary School Teacher to train as a Financial Planner. I had been a Primary School Teacher for 10 years. I both loved and loathed my job. It brought tears of joy and tears of despair. I still love working with children, they bring so much excitement to the smallest thing. They are full of surprises and exceed expectation more often than you could imagine.

Why the move?

Teaching is an incredible job. Not just a job but a huge responsibility. For many of the children you teach you will almost become their main carer. Many will spend more time with you than with their own parents. But your responsibility doesn’t simply lie with delivering a maths lesson or teaching them to read and write. Your responsibility goes deeper than that. You become a social worker; a mother; a father; a councillor; a therapist; a translator of a language you don’t speak! A friend, a foe… and it doesn’t stay at the classroom door. It comes home with you. It sleeps in your bed with you. It’s with you when you are with your own family. This can be euphoric emotion or downright depression, even fear for a child’s life.

A quick memory to put this into context, I had taught one child for 3 years – she was neglected, all her siblings had been removed from her mother’s care, her mother was an alcoholic and a drug user. The child I taught relied on me. If I wasn’t there for some reason, she would have a terrible day. I was her constant. She didn’t know if she would have food on the table or a warm bed to sleep in when she got home. We used to give her breakfast at school as she rarely ate well at home. Her clothes were dirty and she was usually dressed inappropriately. One afternoon, we were told not to let her home with her mother. We didn’t get any choice – her mother came and took her. All night I was worried that I wouldn’t see this little girl again. I didn’t worry about targets or reading or writing. I needed to know she was safe. The fact she turned up to school and had a meal was more meaningful than anything. I am relieved to say, she did turn up the next day.

As I said, I loved my job. I loved working with the children and the parents. I enjoyed my relationship with them, and academically, I got a lot out of them – it was a huge reward for doing what I did. So why did I leave?

After having my own children, I felt I simply couldn’t put the same energy into my job. Teachers are under extreme pressure from external controls affecting how they do their job. I didn’t have time for this anymore. My time was precious – I wanted to spend it with my children. I only went back to teaching on a part time basis and I just couldn’t get back into it the same way. As I was also moving schools, it was hard not to compare what now I had, with what I was used to. The future was unknown. Things were unsettled. It was a good time to try something new.

Why Financial Planning?

To be completely honest, had I not been influenced by my Mother, there is a fair chance I would not have chosen Financial Planning and I could still be in teaching, perhaps I would have progressed to senior management, however, I am under no illusion that this could have been an unhappy progression.

Watching Mum work in the way that she does made me inquisitive about what she was doing. She always said to me that the relationship with the clients is the fundamental part of being a successful planner. If you don’t know your client, how can you financially plan with their best interests at heart? Knowing this enabled me to find a link between what I loved so much in Teaching, to Financial Planning. I know from first-hand experience that Mum’s clients and their needs are at the forefront of everything she does. She goes out of her way to build that relationship and trust. Two of the key elements to any Financial Planner’s role and responsibility.

It was an inspiration to watch Mum go through the entire process of working someone else’s way, to doing things exactly how she wanted to and setting up her own business. It was obvious when she began this adventure she was, and still is, strong and independent – (I always thought I got this trait from my Father, but maybe not!). With her clients’ support, she decided to ‘take the plunge’ and Ashlea Financial Planning was born.

She devoted herself to the process of setting up the business. I guess through osmosis, I inherited some of this energy, although I was not aware of it at the time. Twelve years down the line and Ashlea Financial Planning is going from strength to strength and words can’t say how proud I am of her for it. It takes huge courage and determination to take this leap of faith and succeed in the way Mum has.

Enter me. Well how do I follow this? Obviously, Mum is a big fish to follow and I feel like a mere string of seaweed in her wake at the moment, but there is a future in my development. With this background, Financial Planning seemed like the obvious choice for me. I just had to make sure I liked it!

Where next? – Which wave shall I ride?

Quickly, I began my training and was fortunate enough to get a place on the ‘PFS Aspire Training Academy’, taking me through the qualifications and skills to achieve a Diploma in Financial Planning. I took my first exam soon into changing career. The pass was the confirmation I needed, I had made the right choice.

I am nearly half way through my apprenticeship now and I look forward to the end as the beginning of my future.

Teaching builds valuable skills, all of which are transferable.  I have visions of how to combine my new skills and my old ones – I will expand on this in my future blogs.

I believe we need to reach out to future generations and help them understand Financial Planning. Why are we beginning this at retirement or the ‘panic’ just before? Why don’t people have a Financial Planner from the time they begin making huge financial decisions – i.e. when they leave school? How many young adults are ignorant, but exposed to, the financial pressures out there of credit and loans?

The truth behind it all is expense. There is no way I would have even considered having a Financial Planner when I was at university – I was too busy socialising and spending money! But if it is ingrained in us from an early age, surely it can be seen to be as important as medical commitments. It is the main part of our life after all – ask anyone what their main worry would be about life it’s usually about money. Maybe health, but mostly money.

If we can reach out to schools and colleges, this can change. Why can’t Financial Planners be part of growing up? I wonder how much better off we would be (financially and mentally) if we all had a Financial Planner, when we left school?

I am not saying this is right for everyone –but if we can help those that need it, we can make a change.

I want to take Financial Planning to the younger generations, bringing it to the millennials - and beyond, in a way that suits them. That’s the wave I want to ride.