Following the calls to action from our recent white paper – Change starts with bravery and our Social Values.  Simplify Consulting has initiated partnerships with local schools to offer assistance with career fairs, advice sessions, workshops, employability skills, mentoring and coaching.

We recognised that students need to be made aware of what financial services has to offer, the diverse range of roles and different pathways into the industry.   When speaking with financial services professionals, more often than not, the individual did not choose a career in financial services, it’s usually a career that has evolved over time.  Imagine what could be achieved if students choose to work in financial services from the outset and had a clear roadmap of where they wanted to be.

Back in the summer an opportunity arose when Poole High School reached out to local companies for assistance with a speed networking event, so myself and Natasha Birchall jumped at the chance to help out.

On the morning of the event, our bravado had left us… it was a daunting experience walking into the sports hall to be faced with 26 tables, and 4 hours to meet over 300 year 10 students on a hot sunny day in July. We were to meet with a table of 6 students every 12 minutes, share our own career path, discuss their aspirations and find out what skills they thought employers were looking for when recruiting; also what was going to make them stand out in a crowd.

There was a diverse range of over 30 professionals representing construction, HR, swimming and fitness, charity, financial services, architects, outdoor sports, education and many more.

We gave ourselves a good talking to and reminded ourselves that we were the adults and we joined our first table and soon got in our flow. The students were a pleasure to talk to, interested, engaged, polite and keen to understand what our roles were and how we got there.  They were really interested in what subjects we had taken at school, the grades we had achieved and if good GCSEs were really important.  They were also interested to hear what our career aspirations had been – did we know what we wanted to do when we left school and had we followed that path?

The students have just finished their mock exams and are just about to start their GCSE year. They were starting to think about what life looked after school, what options they have and how do they make the right decision for the career path that some hadn’t yet chosen.  It was clear that the students were feeling under pressure regarding making these big decisions.

So, what did the students learn?

The students enjoyed their sessions and were appreciative of us sharing our stories, they received advice regarding CV’s, applications, interview tips and techniques, managing situations and some thoughts around how to demonstrate confidence and passion. All of this from ‘real’ people in ‘real’ roles, helped them to imagine what they could do.

So, what did we learn?

It was exhausting talking to students but very rewarding!  They weren’t as scary as we first thought.  Unsurprisingly many of the students hadn’t made a decision regarding their career path and they needed some inspiration.  Even the students who knew what they wanted to do, didn’t know what they needed to do to get there.  The students needed more information or mentoring during their earlier school years regarding careers.  They needed to be better informed before making big decisions regarding their GCSE/A Level/College options.

Mentoring sessions either one to one or in small groups would be beneficial to help them pick subjects and assist with research into career options and requirements.

What are the benefits to employers and students?

Students received a good overview of different career pathways, advice on how to prepare for an interview and the world of work.  It gave them the opportunity to ask questions in a safe environment and understand what businesses are looking for in future employees.

For us it’s an opportunity to build rapport between students, schools and organisations which could lead to future employment relationships through work experience, placements and permanent roles.

Spending time with students in their school and college years, could increase attendance at sixth form and college courses and lead to an increase in college leavers looking to explore career opportunities and placements within financial services.  Companies are offering graduate training schemes and work placements with fantastic career path opportunities, visiting schools, mentoring and helping out at events will highlight these opportunities earlier for students.

Good financial education gives students the skills that they need to manage their finances in the future and will also provide them with a view of the different areas of Finance.   Providing students with more in-depth financial education and having more insight into the different roles alongside their education could spark an interest in the world of financial services and provide our professionals of the future.

‘Future of Advice’ is a partnership between Simplify Consulting, the Personal Finance Society, local universities, FP Wealth Management Ltd, Strategic Solutions Financial Services and Ward Goodman offering placements to university students to attract young talent into the Financial Advice profession.   The partnership is growing, with companies realising the value and diversity of thought that young professionals can bring to their teams.  If you are a Financial Adviser or student and would to find out more, please contact –


Kirstin Brooks

Business Support Manager