As his first step into the industry, George Williamson started a Level 3 Financial Admin Apprentice with ICF Financial Services while undertaking his learning with Babington. We asked George to explain a little about his role, what he’s learnt and where he wants his apprenticeship to take him.
What tasks do you get up to while completing your apprenticeship?
A task which I complete on a weekly basis would be producing review packs for our advisers when they have a review due with their clients. This would involve contacting the providers of the clients’ policies to get up-to-date valuations and information on their policies to ensure that the advisers can offer our clients the most up-to-date and accurate advice. Once the review has been completed, the adviser will then return the review pack to me so that I can update any changes that the client may want to make, or the adviser had recommended for their policies. I would do this by using a software we use called Client-Assyst.
Another task I complete within my apprenticeship involves processing post we receive from both client and providers. The post we receive often needs to be dealt with at a fast rate. This is because the post from clients and providers usually has a matter of urgency and needs to be dealt with immediately.
What kind of skills have you picked up so far?
Throughout the apprenticeship so far, I have picked up many skills, both personal skills but also my financial knowledge. I feel I have developed my communication skills and confidence as I have regular contact with our clients and Financial Advisers, making me more confident when talking to others. By studying at work, it has also meant that I develop my knowledge of financial products and terminology within the industry as they are things which my colleagues and I deal with daily.
What made you decide to go for this specific role?
My current role within the business will allow me to develop my knowledge of financial services and allow me to understand and learn about the different financial products which are available. Therefore, I decided to apply for this apprenticeship as I believed it would allow me to gain the knowledge and experience within finance to be able to progress to where I want to be.
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Do you find, as an apprentice, you are treated any differently to other members of staff?
I don’t believe that I am treated any different to other members of staff, however, I am given more support, as there may be tasks which I find challenging and therefore require a colleague’s assistance to ensure that I am completing everything that is being asked of me correctly.
What benefits do you think there are to be completing an apprenticeship, especially yours, instead of going to university?
For me, it has allowed me to learn and develop my financial services knowledge, it has allowed me to partner with an excellent company who are very supportive when it comes to exams, pushing me to sit them as this will further myself. Another advantage would obviously be that you earn whilst you learn, something which university does not provide, as you are thousands of pounds in debt before starting your first serious job.
Do you have any advice for those thinking of starting an apprenticeship, but who are quite uncertain about entering the workplace?
You can only do your best! There is so much support available to you that if you are struggling or don’t understand something, you must say. There are always people who want to help. Apprenticeships are a great way to gain a great relationship with an employer but also allow you to develop many life and knowledge-based skills.
What are your plans after completing your apprenticeship?
After completing my apprenticeship, I would love to sit the exams R01- RO6 which will allow me to become a qualified Financial Adviser as it is what I aspire to be in the future.
How do you think this apprenticeship will help your future career?
The apprenticeship is allowing me to understand financial services and how financial firms are run. For example, I have learnt about the different roles in a financial services firm, from Paraplanners to Financial Advisers. Therefore, it has given me an insight into some of the tasks which I would be involved in completing if I were to become a Financial Adviser.
Find out more about what an apprenticeship in Financial Administration involves.