Bolton School Former Pupils
Lucinda Ball (1995-2002)
Lucinda is a Chartered Financial Planner at Moore and Smalley LLP in Preston
What were your favourite subjects and who were your favourite teachers at School?
I used to love IT and Textiles. Strangely enough, my current job is not at all creative. Favourite teacher has got to be Mrs McCann … physics lessons were always so lively!
What further study have you undertaken since leaving School?
I have a 2:1 degree in Economics from Lancaster University. I actually set off studying Business Computing with a minor in Economics, but ended up switching at the end of my first year.
After graduating I took on a trainee paraplanner role at Moore and Smalley LLP, through which I have studied 'on the job' and progressed through my Financial Planning exams to become a Chartered Financial Planner.
What does your job involve and how did you progress to your current role?
After I graduated, I started work with Moore and Smalley as a paraplanner. To answer a common question, no, that does not involve jumping out of planes!
Essentially, I carried out research surrounding investments, pensions and insurance, before summarising our recommendations in report format for clients.
I spent about five years in this role before I was promoted to Client Service Manager, responsible for about 18 people providing both administrative and technical support. I have been with Moore and Smalley my entire career.
Who/what influenced your career choice?
If I’m honest, when I left university I was applying for management and accountancy jobs and only happened across my first role because I was intrigued by the title ‘paraplanner’. If I’m honest, at the time of applying I had no clue what that was and had to google it, but it turns out it was the best decision I could ever have made.
Once I understood what the role involved, accountancy suddenly seemed really boring. Financial Planning touches everyone, whether they are starting out in their career, looking to protect their family or planning for their retirement. It is really satisfying to put a Financial Plan together for someone and see it develop year on year.
Who/what has been your biggest inspiration?
My first (and current) boss, Graham Gordon, who is Managing Partner at Moore and Smalley. He never accepted anything but the very best and that's why I'm so good at what I do!
Which skills do you consider to be essential for your job?
Well clearly you need a head for numbers when dealing with investments and pensions, but at Moore and Smalley we always say that it’s easy to teach the technical skills, but it's the attitude of the individual that’s harder to mould.
With new recruits we look for commitment, a positive can-do attitude and a willingness to be flexible with both working hours and job tasks at our busy times of year.
What do you like most about your job?
The variety – legislation is always changing, so there’s always something new to learn. My job is split three ways: managing my team, dealing with clients and keeping on top of technical changes. I never have chance to get bored.
What is your biggest challenge in your current role?
Dealing with other providers who don't always have the same concept of first class client service as I do … 25 working days to get a form?! My firm prides itself on delivering a first-class client experience, so it's frustrating when we have to take the flak from clients for service from insurance companies that we agree are totally unacceptable, but over which we have no control.
What do you consider to be your greatest career achievement?
Achieving Chartered Financial Planner status and being promoted to Client Service Manager, responsible for our entire back office function. At the time I became Chartered I was in the minority in the industry, and one of the youngest. I was more qualified than my boss!
How did Bolton School help you to be successful in your chosen career?
I can use an apostrophe correctly! You have no idea how many CVs I have rejected because everything else ticks all the boxes, but they have no grasp of spelling and grammar. Nothing looks worse to a client than a poorly written letter. Don't underestimate the power of just being a Bolton School pupil too – my current boss mentioned in my first interview 'a very good school indeed'.
What advice would you give to our pupils interested in your field of work?
Get some work experience! Good grades might get you through the first stage of a recruitment filtering process, but there's so many well qualified candidates out there now, that the ones that draw me in are the ones who have done more than just qualifications. They will have undertaken relevant work placements that show a clear commitment to the industry. Plus, you never know, a work experience placement could lead to a job in the future …