Ann-Marie Atkins, Managing Partner, Financial Planning, has won the Financial Adviser of the Year - North of England award at the inaugural Women in Financial Advice Awards.
These prestigious awards aim to recognise the talents and achievements of some of the top-performing females in the financial services industry. Succeeding in an industry that is traditionally seen as male-dominated is no mean feat, so we are delighted that this year a number of the women within our wider Tilney Group have won and were shortlisted. Find out more about Ann-Marie’s career and achievements, along with why she is a deserving winner of this award.
Tell us more about how you started your financial planning career
I started as an administrator at the age of 21 in a financial services firm. Soon after, I realised that I wanted to progress towards becoming a financial planner so I moved into paraplanning to get to grips with the technical aspects of planning. I felt a drive to do this as I wanted to influence the advice being offered to clients and enhance the overall client experience.
At the same time, I completed the advanced exams in my own time and at my own cost. I began applying my technical expertise to reports, both for the benefit of clients and to help the planners I was working for increase their understanding of the available options and their benefits.
I then moved on to another company as a broker consultant, working directly with independent financial advisers – explaining the benefits of working with my company and building up their technical knowledge. Just from speaking to some of these advisers, I could see gaps in their knowledge which had a big impact on the advice that they gave to their clients.
I wanted to be more involved with the end result for clients so began to work hard on developing my communication skills and continued to study in order to achieve Chartered status, as I could see this was an important title to have when working with the professionals market. I began delivering face-to-face advice to clients in 2007 when I also achieved Certified and Fellow status.
What does your current role involve?
I joined Tilney back in 2010, and in 2016 I became the first female managing partner in the company. On a day-to-day basis, I look after my existing and prospective clients, work with other professionals and work with my team on the recruitment for my region (the North West). I am also tasked with leading, influencing and sharing best practice – not just in the North West but across the business, so that as a business and as individuals we can create better client experiences and outcomes.
It’s a busy role (to put it lightly!) but my main focus at all times is to provide the best possible advice to my clients and to make sure that as a business, we all aim to do the same. While I’m driven to do this myself, I know that in order to produce the best possible outcomes for our clients, collaboration is key, regardless of gender. I am a huge believer in leading by example.
My main focus at all times is to provide the best possible advice to my clients and making sure as a business we all aim to do the same.
You’ve clearly achieved an awful lot in your career and current role, but which achievement are your proudest of?
I think there is an obligation for strong women in our sector to 'pay it forward' for future generations. In a male-dominated industry, it’s my duty to encourage and mentor young talent and people who genuinely show an interest into getting into financial planning.
Recently, I went back to my old secondary school to give a talk about my career. I had an hour to speak to sixty 15-16 year olds about what my role entails, the route I took to get there and the determination and resilience required to succeed in a competitive industry. At the end of it, I asked if any of them would want to work in finance. I’m extremely pleased to say that at least 50 put their hands up, and there were many questions! I have given support to a number of school-leavers and provided further careers advice to my old school, along with another local school, on the subject of females entering this industry and routes to achieve this.
Within the company, I regularly speak to employees and teams about career progression. Outside of the office, I meet with external contacts and even the children of clients who are looking for careers advice. As a result, I have introduced four females into our business who were not previously in the industry. Bringing in this new pool of talent is definitely one of my proudest achievements.
I think there is an obligation for strong women in our sector to 'pay it forward' for future generations. In a male-dominated industry, it’s my duty to encourage and mentor young talent.
What are your top tips for women looking to start a career in the financial services industry?
It is vital to be a supporter and champion of other women in the industry. Don’t see them as your competition – view them as allies. With this in mind, join a women’s network or create your own so you can share experiences and help others.
Remember, hard work only gets you so far. To progress, you need to raise your profile through networking. Tell people you want to progress and ask for help – be an ambassador for yourself!
While self-improvement is vital, never forget the end goal of helping your clients and remain passionate about their financial interests. Helping them to achieve their aspirations is one of the most fulfilling things you will do.
Act with integrity, humility and most importantly, know your value.
This article was previously published on Tilney prior to the launch of Evelyn Partners.