My first experience of Independent Financial Advisers was what ultimately led me to a career in Financial Planning. Not because the experience was a good one, in fact the opposite.
It was summer 2002 and I had just finished university. I had secured a job on a graduate trainee scheme with a leading actuarial consultancy which I was due to start in the September. My now husband and I were looking to buy our first property and were put in touch with an independent mortgage broker.
Ultimately the mortgage adviser got us where we wanted to be but I’m pretty sure now, as I had suspected at the time, that it wasn’t done ‘compliantly’ or in our best interests. I wanted advice, not to be sold a product.
Because I didn’t yet have a payslip, the mortgage adviser told us we needed to apply for a self-certification mortgage. For anyone that doesn’t remember the pre-credit crunch days this is basically a mortgage where you tell the lender what you earn and they just accept it, no checks, no documents required – pretty much whatever you say goes!
In actual fact I don’t think we needed to self-certify, with sight of a signed contract of employment and an imminent start date most lenders would have been satisfied. The self-cert lender however would pay a higher rate of commission to the adviser, while charging us a slightly higher interest rate.
The adviser also sold us life insurance, as well as an income protection policy that we had specifically said we didn’t want. He certainly hadn’t explained what he was recommending us or why. I felt like I had been sold something I didn’t really understand and I didn’t like that feeling.
I started on the graduate trainee scheme as planned but realised fairly soon that the role wasn’t for me. I enjoyed the work and the people I worked with on an individual basis, but there was something about the collective ‘corporate culture’ that didn’t sit right.
Having learnt a bit more about Financial Advisers as ‘distributors’ of financial services through my actuarial training I decided I would like to train as an IFA. I wanted to work with people on an individual level, rather than playing the game in the corporate world and my experience with the mortgage broker had inspired me to do a much better job than he had.