Mikayla is a certified financial planner and helps clients choose investments, insurance and other financial products that suit their needs.
What study and career path has brought you to your current position?
When I matriculated I wanted to make a career in dancing or teaching dancing, but then discovered that wasn’t for me. I ended up working somewhere completely different - in a bank! The job, which started out as organising cheque books and progressed from there, was only intended to keep me busy but I really enjoyed it and so decided to study towards a BComm degree, while working part-time. Following that I attended evening classes and completed my Honours degree in Financial Markets while I worked full-time as a Premier Banker. I then became an assistant and paraplanner at NFB Private Wealth Management, where I currently work, while I completed a Post Graduate Diploma in Financial Planning and obtained the CFP® Professional designation. I am now registered in the CFA Program and studying towards the Level 2 examination in June.
What does a typical day look like for you?
There are two very different aspects to this job - one is meeting with clients and lots of talking and listening, and the other is sitting in front of the computer and replying to e-mails and preparing proposals. I personally find it more effective to try and fill my day with one or the other, as it requires a different frame of mind to do admin compared to what is required when conducting meetings. I find that emails are becoming a larger part of the day as more clients try to do as much as possible electronically. It also helps the client to have time to look over information and focus on it properly and to have the paper trail to refer to when necessary.
What are the highlights of your job?
In this job you need to discuss people’s goals and achievements with them and sometimes assist them through difficult events in their life. You often meet their families and go into their homes, and it instantly makes the relationship a more personal one than just providing a service. When you gain the trust of a client and they accept your advice, it is very rewarding.
And the most challenging aspects?
It is challenging to be constantly aware of so many people at once. In other professional relationships, such as your GP or dentist for example, it is up to you to contact the professional and up to you to do the follow-ups. However as a financial planner it is somewhat of a shared responsibility and this can be challenging at times, as there are many lives to keep track of.
What is the best piece of advice you’ve received that’s helped you in your career?
The expression "start as a ripple, end as a wave" has really stuck with me, helping me to persist and realise that things often don’t happen as quickly as you’d like, but if you keep at it and stay resilient you’ll get there. That goes for investments too! The most important characteristics for being a successful financial planner are being consistent and dependable, which takes time and patience.
There is a perception that the finance sector can be a "boy’s club". Have you found this to be true at all in your experience?
If you walk into a room of financial advisors, it will most likely be at least 80% male. This isn’t because women aren’t welcome, but in my opinion it is just the traditional mindset that is still changing. I think what’s more important to focus on is the lack of young people entering the industry, both male and female.
Do you have any tips for those entering the finance industry?
Because there are so few young people entering the industry, there is so much opportunity. The tips I have are to try and get industry-specific qualifications and to understand that you aren’t going to make a bucket of money immediately, but you need to have a long term outlook. The pros of sticking at it in the long term are that once you are comfortable with your client base, it will grow itself and your income will grow with it. You will be able to structure your own day, rather than having a boss telling you what to do, and the amount of effort you put in, you will absolutely get out.
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Nicole Cameron is a features writer with over twelve years’ experience, focusing primarily on the business market with a niche focus on entrepreneurship. She has written on a variety of topics for Sharenet and is excited to be focusing on women in finance in her new monthly column "Femmes in Finance". She holds a Business Science degree from UCT and is passionate about reporting on the events and people that make up the local business landscape.