Like many success stories, NextGen Planners began with a conversation between two mates in a pub. Adam Carolan, director of Cheshire-based Xentum, and Rohan Sivajoti, director of Darlington-based Postcard Planning, felt that as younger entrants to the profession, they needed more support and a community they could relate to.
They scribbled down some ideas and values they wanted to promote on a napkin. They still have that napkin. It was shown on a big screen to an audience of 169 financial planners last Thursday, at their inaugural NextGen Planners conference at Manchester’s state-of-the-art Bridgewater Hall. Read more about the conference on page eight.
A year on from its inception, I caught up with Sivajoti to talk about his plans for the future of the group.
What did you set out to achieve?
We wanted to help people, both the next generation of advisers and the next generation of the public. The profession often involves a lot of shouting, and we did not like being told what to do.
We needed to provide an environment where people have the tools and skills to get where they want. And we needed forums for people to discuss things, but ultimately go full Fleetwood Mac and ‘go your own way’.
What have you been most proud of so far?
We have 140 premium members now, and over 10,000 messages sent on our Slack forum. Here we discuss everything to do with the profession and how to better ourselves and our firms. We have created a real community there.
Of the 169 people at the conference, and 33% were women, which is higher than the average for advice events. We are buzzing about that.
Also, 130 people have been through training in the past year on one of our courses. Adam Owen delivers the training and, without sounding all Donald Trump here, the feedback he has received is fantastic. Those courses are only getting bigger and better and we have some more specific courses planned for next year.
Where do you go from here?
We have announced a partnership with The Money Charity, which assists children in schools with financial literacy sessions. We are asking the NextGen Planners to support the next generation of the public.
It costs £200 an hour for The Money Charity to deliver their sessions, and we are asking NextGen Planners to contribute to a local school in their area. We want to raise £25,000 in the first year, which at £9.09 per student will reach around 2,600 kids.
What are the biggest challenges?
Adam and I never had any plans for this. We are not gurus. We are just like those we are reaching out to in order to create a community of like-minded people.
What comes with that is the challenge of knowing where to go next. That is part of why it works so well though. There is a sense that people are not being dictated to and can influence where we go as part of this community. It is great to be a part of.
Also, our board all have full-time jobs, so finding the time can be difficult. I do not know where Adam finds the time, to be honest.
Outside the box
As a keen cricketer, do you think England can win The Ashes?
I predicted 4-1 to Australia at the start of the series. I cannot see a Test match lasting five days, because the batting sides are not good enough, and the bowling is too good. [Note: this interview was conducted before England took the second test to a fifth day, and subsequently collapsed.]
If you could have a pint with one historical figure, who would it be?
It is a cliché, but Muhammad Ali. He was so funny, beyond his years, and he changed the face of sport. He is probably the most important sportsman ever.
What is your favourite album?
Silent Alarm by Bloc Party. I do not think there is a stronger start to an album than the first four songs on that. Closely followed by The College Dropout by Kanye West.
2016–present NextGen Planners, co-founder
2016–present Postcard Planning, director
2016–2017 eVestor, advisory services director