From Paraplanning to Marketing

I never really knew what I wanted to do when I left school, and I pretty much fell into a career in Financial Services at 18 years old. 4 years on, and 3 different job roles later, I have finally found my calling, and I could not be happier. I am currently the Business Development Assistant at Informed Financial Planning (IFP), and I thought it would be great to share my journey with you so far.

The Beginning

I joined IFP in January 2019 as a Technical Administrator and a member of the Paraplanning team. This fit rather well with my experience as I had previously worked in a similar role at my old job. I thought Paraplanning was what I wanted to do because I enjoyed it and the challenges that came with it, however I was always striving for more.

I wanted to contribute towards future growth of the business, and I had thousands of ideas that I wanted to make a reality. Although IFP encourage staff suggestions and look to implement these, I was not as involved as I would have liked. When the job vacancy for Business Development Assistant came up, I knew I had to take the plunge and just go for it!

Back in September 2020, I shocked the rest of my team (and probably everyone at IFP, sorry guys!) by asking Jess to take a chance on me for this role. Despite the fact that she could have interviewed externally for someone a lot more qualified than me, I managed to convince her this role was made for me and I needed to show what I could do if I was given the opportunity! To prove I was serious about this move, I enrolled on a free online marketing course that taught me the basics. I also did some extra reading and looked into the job description to try and familiarise myself with the tasks well ahead of my start date. If you are serious about taking your chances and switching your career path up, this is something I would absolutely recommend as it gave me a head start!

Working at IFP

Whilst on the subject, I would like to take this opportunity to reflect on what type of company IFP is to work for. IFP was formed back in 2004 after our managing director, Kevin, identified that the way most financial advisers operated was outdated and the average age of advisers was well over 50 years old. IFP’s passion is to develop the younger generation, and we have a variance of different schemes when it comes to employing staff. This includes apprenticeships (Jess was IFP’s first ever apprentice and is now the Head of Business Development 11 years on), and graduate training schemes, which every member of the Paraplanning team have come through and as a result, successfully achieved Diploma status within two years. 65% of employees at IFP are now under the age of 40, and we consider ourselves to be a modern, inclusive company who invests in their employees at every given opportunity, regardless of age and experience. This is an incredibly proud achievement given the industry that we are in, and something I am very proud to be a part of.

6 months in

Once I was fairly settled in my new role and handover was complete, I decided to get stuck in and started studying for the Level 4 Certificate in Professional Marketing with the Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM). If you’re reading this and you are in a similar job role, I would seriously recommend giving this course a go. I have learnt so much in such a short space of time, and I have really been able to develop my skills and apply different elements of my course to my normal working routine. It’s also really improved mine and Jess’ communication as a team, although we have known each other for many years now and know each other pretty well, in a work sense, this role was completely new to me and I had no marketing experience whatsoever prior to September 2020. To now be able to understand terminology and the reason behind certain tactics and campaigns, just 6 months in, makes both of our lives a whole lot easier!

Everyone who knows me, knows exams are not my strong point. I am an essay and application type of girl through and through, so I really found the original exams I was studying when I was on the paraplanning team a struggle. With the CIM, there is only one compulsory exam that I have to sit, and the rest are assignment based. It’s like we were made for each other! I did manage to get over my ‘examaphobia’ and pass the compulsory module exam earlier this month, and I should be done with the remaining modules by August and ready to start my Level 6 which is the equivalent to an Undergraduate Degree! I did say I would prove myself if I was given the chance, did I not?

In a nutshell, I am now responsible for the following:

  • Overseeing the work of internal and external agencies we work with on our campaigns
  • Writing, editing and proofreading both internal and external materials
  • Managing all of IFP’s social media channels, including planning and delivering of content
  • Monitoring the performance of insights on all of IFP’s social media channels and website
  • Ensuring website functionality and ensuring it’s up to date at all times
  • Planning and organising events
  • Designing and distributing the monthly newsletters for staff, clients, and professionals
  • Preparing KPI’s and analysis documents
  • Analysing new leads and collating monthly analysis on all leads received

To finish up, I think you could say the last 6 months have probably been the happiest 6 months of my working career so far! And that’s not to say I did not enjoy previous roles, or loved my previous team just as much, but this role and the opportunities that come with it have given me a whole bunch of confidence I did not know I needed! Thanks Jess and IFP for giving me an opportunity to really do something that I love every day. You know the saying ‘if you enjoy it, it will not feel like work’? Well, I finally know what they mean by that now!

By Ellie Dickens – Business Development Assistant 

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