If Gershom Chan has a single professional regret, it might be that it took him so long to realise how rewarding a career in financial advice could be.
Speaking to the former banker at the Scholes & Brown office in Newcastle, where he is now a technical analyst, he is keen to spread the word about the opportunities for new entrants to the profession.
‘You should grab the bull by the horns,’ he says. ‘Show employers you are keen, and don’t wait for things like qualifications to be offered.’ In short, Chan recommends people display their initiative rather than waiting for their ship to come in. Sound advice, surely.
Making his move
Speaking of his own career, Chan explains his Edinburgh upbringing helped to cultivate an interest in finance. This was furthered by his decision to undertake a business management degree at nearby Heriot-Watt University, from which he graduated in 2007.
With the financial crash just around the corner, but as yet unseen, Chan left university to a world of opportunity, especially in financial services and banking.
Initially, Chan was drawn towards the big names of finance and began his career with the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS). Within the RBS Group, he worked for Adam & Company, and Coutts & Co., picking up qualifications along the way. Among these qualifications, perhaps crucially, was the Chartered Insurance Institute Level 4 diploma.
Chan would later make the decision to swap Edinburgh for Newcastle, citing family reasons. He explains the decision was a tough one, but also that it has reaped rewards.
Upon moving to the northeast he continued working for RBS, and later joined Coutts & Co. as a wealth assistant. The latter role, which he likens to a paraplanning position, was heavily based on ad hoc duties rather than analytical and research work. Because of this, in part, he sought out a new direction.
The opportunity came in January this year, with an offer from Scholes & Brown. The presence of managing director Philip Brown convinced Chan it was time to take the next step in his career.
‘Philip was the final factor,’ says Chan. ‘His charisma sold the role to me. He has a clear vision for the future of the firm and really explained how I could be a part of it.’
It has been a case of so far so good for Chan. ‘I love working day to day with advisers and creating positive client outcomes and solutions,’ he says, before noting his work can be very technical at times.
‘I think you have to love the technical side to really be effective in a role like this,’ he adds.
World of choice
Does Chan intend to become an IFA at the firm? ‘There are so many opportunities here,’ he says. ‘My path could lead anywhere. It’s great being part of such a dynamic team where you know people have faith in you, even at an early stage.’
Whichever route he takes, Chan is in it for the long haul. ‘[Scholes & Brown] has the scope and the ambition to expand. My aspiration is to be here for the long term and see myself become a major part of its plans.’
Having taken just over a decade to find the career he wanted, Chan finishes with some sage advice for anyone else looking to take the next step in financial advice: find a business that has the right culture, and is capable of nurturing talent. ‘Don’t be afraid to be picky,’ he says. ‘After all, it’s your career.’