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Rebecca’s Story: Retraining into Financial Planning with St. James’s Place Academy

Rebecca SJP Story

Rebecca Maxwell-Hyslop, Trainee Financial Planner (3.5 year break)

I am currently on the St. James’s Place Academy programme and working towards graduating as a fully qualified financial planner. I joined the Academy in 2019. Having been a client of St. James’s Place since 2010, I had a good understanding of the business and loved the idea of formally retraining to become a financial planner, a career that combines my love of people and finance. It was a move that had been on my radar for a couple of years but I needed to ensure it was the right time in my life in order to give it my best shot. After attending a Women Returners’ event, the decision was made – listening to speakers who had been through the Academy and hearing about their career progression, I knew it was the right time to apply! 

My previous career was in investment banking – I worked as a sales trader (specialising in short duration fixed income products, helping corporate clients with borrowing and investments). My most recent role had lasted for 17 years and I really wanted a change. At the time of taking my career break, I had three children then aged 10, 10 and 7 and it had become increasingly difficult to outsource childcare. It had also become clear to me that I desired the option of working flexibly, fitting work around my family life. I also wanted a new challenge – that of becoming self-employed. 

I loved the six month implementation phase of the Academy programme, and now that I am ‘live’ and building up my business, I have found that it’s hard work and I have a new respect for anyone who has built or is building a business. However, it is great knowing that I am developing a career which I love and that the hard work will be worthwhile. 

The camaraderie between Academists has definitely been the high point. There was such a range of ages and career histories in our intake and everyone is really supportive of each other. We each have different strengths and ways of looking at things which helped to make the course varied and really interesting. I also enjoyed the exams and the huge workout they gave my brain! Working so hard for the exams was a great for my kids to see – they were nagging me to revise rather than the other way around! 

The toughest point was coming out of the Academy just as COVID-19 lockdown hit, with a business plan that involved being out and about meeting people. However, I quickly switched to online meetings and Zoom became my best friend. 

I learnt so much in the first six months of the Academy programme about the technical skills as well as starting a business, including many things that I should have learnt years ago! There is a fantastic support network of managers and mentors who are worth their weight in gold and are so encouraging and supportive. Creating your own business under the SJP umbrella really is the best of both worlds. 

Read Rebecca’s LinkedIn profile

For more information about the St. James’s Place Academy Career Change Programme click here