Almost everyone I meet in financial services tells me they ‘just fell into it’, writes Ian Horne. In fact, I would wager that I hear that sentence more frequently than someone who picks up a full-time salary filling potholes. As I speak to Ciaran Stark of Murphy Wealth in Glasgow, I wonder if it will always be the case.
From intern to asset
Speaking to Stark, I think there is life in the phrase yet. Not only did Stark stumble into financial advice, but he also came across his current role, as business innovation manager, completely by chance. ‘Adrian Murphy [Murphy Wealth managing director] didn’t know exactly where he wanted me to work in the firm,’ he says. ‘So without wanting to be too self-deprecating, I’m basically a spare part!’
However, Murphy had known he wanted Stark on his team. The two had met while Stark was in the second year of his finance, investment and risk degree at Glasgow Caledonian University, when Stark had won an award for receiving the best marks on his course.
The award was sponsored by Murphy Wealth, and Stark and Murphy struck up a conversation that led to a summer internship. Upon graduating last year, Stark enjoyed a summer of sun in Florida, before returning to Glasgow and receiving a full-time job with Murphy.
Finding his way
Stark has since settled into his role, but has yet to carve out a clear career path. He is doing everything from basic administration to overseeing Murphy Wealth’s rebrand, to figuring out the Curo back-office system for the rest of the team. As such, the business innovation manager role is likely to be a stepping stone to something more recognisable.
The important thing is that Stark is enjoying his work. ‘The best part is being able to oversee the whole business,’ he explains. ‘In a massive firm I don’t think I’d be able to develop the kind of experience I’m getting here.’
The marketing work, in particular, has been enjoyable for the newcomer. ‘I think once the rebrand is launched, and I see it come to life, that’s going to be really rewarding,’ he says.
Willing to learn
Stark’s attitude and drive was enough to encourage Murphy to add him to the team, and these traits will serve him well as he finds his feet in the financial world.
His approach to the opportunity of working at the firm is also quite refreshing. ‘The worst case scenario was that I wouldn’t enjoy it!’ he says. For other would-be planners wondering about the next step, the lesson is you do not need to have your entire life mapped out in your early 20s.
Murphy Wealth sponsors the Glasgow Wealth and Networking Club, which puts small business owners in front of angel investors. ‘The sessions have gone down well,’ says Stark. ‘We keep hearing it’s not just another networking event.’
‘My first job was as a waiter at a seafood restaurant in the Northwest Highlands,’ says Stark. ‘It was quite good, and it was something to do. You need to have something to do when you live up there!’
‘In the short term, I’d quite like to have my own office,’ says Stark. ‘In the long term, I still haven’t figured it out.’