Me, my job and I
Me, my job and I: Financial Adviser
Ever wondered what it is like to be a Financial Adviser? Blackpool's John Earnshaw lends us a hand and give us a full account of his life as a Financial Adviser...and it's all football and figures!
How did you get into it?
I have always been interested in finance and applied to Norwich Union. I worked there for 2 years before becoming frustrated and wanted to be my own boss and fully independent.
Did you always know you wanted to work in finance?
From a young age I have been interested in it. I am naturally a nosy, inquisitive person, not afraid to ask somebody about their finances. Now I can do it in confidence through my factfinding process.
What skills do you need to be a good financial adviser?
Good interpersonal skills, excellent numeracy, good organisation skills, being conscientious and the ability to quickly decipher a client’s financial situation.
What is it like being the boss?
Superb! I have been called a 'control freak’ by my wife! However, I would say I am fair and treat my staff very well.
Anything you hate about the job?
The worst thing is a mortgage lender letting you down on efficiency and service. If a client does not fully understand the procedure, we can bear the brunt of the client’s frustration, when invariably it is the lender’s fault.
What qualifications and experience do you need to be a financial adviser?
Financial Planning Certificates 1, 2 & 3 and CeMap. You can only really gain experience by being a financial adviser. Until you are classed as a ‘competent’ adviser you need to carry out every appointment supervised by a senior adviser.
Do you think it’s as bad as it’s portrayed in the media?
Not quite as bad although it is bad. Lenders have toughened up their lending criteria, the interest rates on the mortgage deals have risen, borrowers coming to the end of a mortgage deal are quite often unable to remortgage and property prices are falling on a monthly basis.
How has it come about?
It has primarily come about through reckless lending in the USA. Lenders were offering 100% mortgages to borrowers with less than perfect credit histories. Borrowers couldn’t afford the mortgages and subsequently ended up having arrears and repossessions rose as a result. Lenders in the UK were far too lax but the pendulum has swung a long way the other way now and they seem to be too strict. A happy medium is needed.
What advice can you give ordinary Joe Public in these times? Any tips?
I would advise anybody to keep their credit rating as high as possible. Any credit agreements they have, whether it be credit cards, loans, hire purchase agreements, mortgages and mobile phone contracts need to be paid every month on time. Paying everything on direct debit is the best solution. If affordability allows, paying lump sums off the mortgage balance is advisable to ensure the loan to value on the property is as low as possible when it is time to remortgage.
What do you think the government and Bank of England could do to help?
Reduce interest rates and be more ruling over lenders reluctance to improve mortgage deals. However, with the current inflation issues, a reduction in interest rates is unlikely. Interest rates are not as effective as they used to be in controlling inflation as we are in an ever increasing global economy. The government did pump £ 50 billion of money into the system to improve liquidity but that has had very little impact.
Has it affected your business?
We are undoubtedly quieter, probably by about 20%. I would like to think we are fairly robust as a firm as we have a relatively large, loyal client bank and usually write a lot of business. I would imagine there are a lot of firms who usually just do enough to tick over who are struggling. Many estate agents and conveyancing solicitors are struggling, too.
Is it a stressful job?
Only as stressful as you let it be. I am a fairly laid back kind of character. As long as I can go home each night, look in the mirror, and say that I have tried my best, that is all I can do.
Financial Advisers have a reputation for being boring…is it deserved or are you secretly a wild bunch?
I wouldn't say we are all boring. It has been said that I have a different ‘hat’ on at weekends. Whilst I wouldn't describe myself as a wild party animal, I do like having a good time.
Do you agree with the saying 'don’t mix business with pleasure'?
I try to keep business separate to pleasure. However, we do have a staff night out every now and again which I feel helps the team spirit and camaraderie. It's usually a meal followed by a few drinks, and a few laughs at me trying to dance with two left feet!
You look after clients money – but what are you like with your own?
Very good, although I would say that wouldn’t I! I think it is important to have a balance between saving for the future and enjoying life today.
What do you do to unwind?
Watch Blackpool FC (although that can make me more stressed!), play golf and spend time with my family.
As a Blackpool fan - what do you think of the season ticket increases at Bloomfield Road?
I haven't renewed, partly because I don't agree with it - 30-40% is such a hike in admission prices - and partly because the chap and his son who I sit next to cannot afford to renew. It will undoubtedly affect attendance figures as there will be many others like me.
I will still go to the majority of games, though, if not all.
What do you think of how the town as a whole is portrayed in the media?
Blackpool as a town is portrayed as a shoddy town now. It is clearly lacking investment. The Council and Government need to help Blackpool thrive and prosper. I do think some of the local business people are too greedy in terms of prices charged for things, etc. With the advent of the budget airlines it has made it a lot harder for Blackpool to thrive.
Anything you'd like to see happening in the town?
More outside investment with more diverse, indoor tourist attractions.
What do you blow your money on?
Watching Blackpool FC, playing golf, holidays and my wife’s clothes collection (not through choice!).
What’s your idea of a good night out?
A nice meal with my wife and friends, followed by a boogie!
Your favourite Lancashire places?
Bloomfield Road, my home and The Trough of Bowland.
What’s your biggest vice?
My wife would say watching Blackpool FC! I would say wanting to be a perfectionist and being a workaholic.
As a businessman...have you ever been tempted to apply to go on The Apprentice?
I wouldn’t apply as I wouldn't be able to bite my tongue. I would have to tell Alan Sugar that I am right and he is wrong, which would obviously be the wrong thing to do.
last updated: 27/06/2008 at 14:12
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