Transition Story: taking charge of your own destiny

As much as a broad understanding of the commercial world will prepare you for a career in wealth management, ‘it’s whether or not you possess a genuine interest in people that will determine your success.’

Simon Roffey’s opinion may surprise those who still associate the sector with a rather more money-driven attitude – an outdated ‘80s cultural stereotype that perhaps still continues to resonate. However, nothing could be further from the truth for Simon who, as an Associate Partner at St. James’s Place Wealth Management, has found ‘a meaningful career helping others who are really in need’.

Simon says: “I am humbled to have worked with such a diverse number of clients – some are often in particularly emotionally vulnerable positions and aren’t sure where to turn for advice.” Indeed, for Simon, one of his proudest moments was helping a Royal Marines amputee, who was unsure of the financial options available to him upon leaving the military.

Diversity of clients

From visiting farmers in Northampton to footballers in Cheshire, Simon enjoys the fact his work is so varied and isn’t limited to London. “I work with everybody from ex-service personnel to divorcees, sports clubs and business owners – there is a wealth of different subject matter to learn because everybody has such different, complex needs.”

Take charge of your own destiny

His path into Financial Services could be seen as a natural progression, as he spent his last five years in the Army within the Adjutant General’s Corps, after tours in Iraq, Kosovo and Afghanistan. A keen amateur investor, Simon had always enjoyed dabbling in the world of commerce. And at the age of 40 he knew it was ‘now or never’ to embrace his entrepreneurial side and take full charge of his own destiny. However, he did have some concerns about going back to study full time at a later age.

Simon says: “It was hard work and nerve wracking but also refreshing and liberating. And it was definitely worth the risk.” The evidence is in the success of his business. Since setting up professionally in 2013, Simon has built up a client base of over 300 people – from businesses to charities and individuals. He joined the St James’s Place Academy for six months, starting in 2012. This was a very focussed course and St James’s Place run them in Solihull, Manchester, Edinburgh and at Piccadilly, London. “They taught me everything I needed to know about wealth management – within a year I was able to generate my own leads with the help of a mentor, who helped me grow my own practice.”

Simon is currently working towards chartered status and although he is self employed, his business is part of St. James’s Place Wealth Management, which is protection worth having within such a highly regulated industry. Simon has also been surprised by, not only the ‘second to none training’ but the ‘family feel’ of the organisation, as well as its strong culture of shared values that aren’t so dissimilar from the Army’s.

Simon says: “Self- discipline, doing the right thing for others, and team work are woven into the fabric of military service. Ex-military personnel have a tendency to psychologically deselect themselves in this sector, but I would encourage them to have the confidence to speak to people within the industry and research the opportunities available.” He adds: “It’s important to remember though that the financial world is not a conveyor belt of Londoners offering you money – you still need to work really hard. But, the sky is the limit if you’re a disciplined self starter who’s comfortable communicating with a diverse mix of people.”

This is both a geographically versatile and flexible career, especially as opportunities within the sector continue to grow on a global scale. As Simon notes though, Financial Services needs to become more inclusive to ensure the industry is able to serve a diverse mix of people, with an equally diverse set of needs.

As much as Simon ‘loved’ his 18-year career in the Army, building his own business has given him ‘a new lease of life’. He says: “I enjoy being in a position where I can create positive outcomes for my clients – this is what continues to motivate me each day.”