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Case Study: Jonothan McColgan

Personal details
Degree:Management MA (hons) Profile picture
School(s): School of Management
Year of Graduation:Jun-1998
LinkedIn:http://uk.linkedin.com/in/jonothanmccolgan/
National of: United Kingdom
Employment details
Organisation: Combined Financial Strategies
Job title: Director & Chartered Financial Planner
Occupational Sector: Financial services
What has been your route to getting your current position?
Unfortunately for many careers, graduating does not mean the end of studying and exams. Like many other professions solicitors & accountants etc, qualifying as a Chartered Financial Planner takes additional study and qualifications. Be prepared for the tough work, study and life balance that will come. It currently takes about 5 years to get to Chartered.
What does your job involve ?
I help my clients to understand what they want and need from their money now and going forward, so that they can get on with enjoying their lives. Most of my clients are focused on when and how they can afford to retire. This means that we need to be able to offer clients a joined up approach to their financial plans covering investments, pensions and tax planning.
What are the best bits of your job ?
Making a material difference to my clients’ lives. I have a number of clients that have planned to retire in 2016. We have spent the last few years getting their finances in shape and it will be fantastic to see them start to enjoy the benefits from all their hard work.
Why were you successful?
When I graduated "sales" was a dirty word. No one wanted to be a "Salesman". So I always focused on being the best at what I did technically. However, an element of soft sales skills is so important if you want to be successful. There is no point being the best technical person at what you do if you cannot get your message across to colleagues or clients. So always look to go on courses/training that will help you with these soft skills and reflect on how you came across in meetings, so you can constantly improve.
What skills/ knowledge from your degree have you found particularly helpful in this role?
In my line of work it would be obvious to say economics and the investment theory modules. They did help me to get a distinction in my Advanced Diploma in Investments after all. However, I run my own business so although I am a Chartered Financial Planner by trade I am businessman first. I work in a very competitive market and realised that I needed to be creative with marketing if I was to be successful in attracting clients from very large financial institutions. Believe it or not, whilst on holiday in St Andrews for the first time since graduating I re-read some of my old Marketing text books and they helped me to come up with what is starting to look like an effective marketing plan for my business.
What advice would you give to students wishing to follow the same path?
Financial Planning/Financial Advice is a really interesting career if you want to be involved in a profession which will challenge you technically whilst presenting the additional challenge of understanding and working closely with real people (your clients). What I really enjoy is that I can make a great living whilst also helping people to make the most of their own money. The good news is that although there will be additional years of study ahead, your Management Degree will get some accreditation with the Personal Finance Society which should shorten your journey to becoming a Chartered Financial Planner. Social life? Depends where you work, size of firm, age demographics. It is an ageing industry which creates a great opportunity for you guys. However, it might mean you are surrounded by older colleagues. Look for larger firms that are actively recruiting and training younger advisers if you want a social life. But the best career opportunities could be working for smaller firms with older bosses. Not only will you get more hands on experience and responsibility, at some point they will want to retire. So there could be opportunities to take over the business if you play your cards right.