Former professional footballer graduates as financial adviser

SJP Robbie Simpson[2]

A former footballer has graduated as a financial adviser after training through Cirencester-headquartered St. James’s Place Wealth Management’s academy.

During his career Robbie Simpson, 35, played for Huddersfield, Leyton Orient, Coventry, Cambridge United and MK Dons. However, he also realised that his sporting career wouldn’t last forever. So in 2016 he launched Life After Professional Sport, LAPS, a recruitment website for former elite sportsmen and women.

And he took some of his own advice, training as a financial adviser and graduating from St. James’s Place Academy in March this year, said: “Coming out of the Academy into lockdown, people were telling me what a bad time it was to start a new business, but it really couldn’t have been better for me. I’ve had to adapt to new ways of working, in terms of using technology, and as with any new start-up there are always teething problems. But with the training and support from SJP and Academy, coupled with potential clients seeming to have more time on their hands to think about their finances, I really feel there couldn’t have been a better time to launch my new business.”

Nearly 40 financial advisers have graduated from the St. James’s Place Academy since the government’s lockdown measures were announced on 23 March.

The new businesses are based across the whole of the UK – from Aberdeen to Kent – and are run by recent Academy graduates, who have received support from the SJP Academy throughout the pandemic. The new SME owners range in age from 24 to 59 years-old, with some just starting out in their career and others who are second-careerists. More than a third  are female, including three who have returned to the workplace after taking a career break to raise a family, while others have come from careers in sport, teaching, hospitality and the military.

Through its two-year training programme, the SJP Academy helps the UK’s next generation of highly qualified financial advice professionals to build a career in financial planning and wealth management. The Academists then either launch their own business or choose to be an adviser within an existing Partner Practice.

The St. James’s Place Academy will re-open to new intakes later this year.

Since its creation in 2012, the Academy has helped create 557 SMEs across the UK, which collectively now employ hundreds of advisers, administrators, paraplanners and marketeers.

SJP Naomi HaynesNaomi Haynes, former business manager, 45, also graduated from the Academy in March this year. She said “Although I’ve needed to adjust my approach to building my business, it has been brilliant to be able to get out there and not let lockdown negatively impact me and the people I can help. The pandemic has caused a lot of worry about people’s financial wellbeing, and lockdown has actually given me the opportunity to connect with people via video calls, as well as via telephone, to provide advice on their financial journey during a difficult time.

“I have also been able to use social media to regularly post about personal and business finance which has had a really positive response, as well as organising and speaking at webinars on relevant financial topics. All of this has shown me that you don’t need to be able to leave your front door to have a positive impact, grow your business, and make a difference.”

Jason Flood, Academy Director at St. James’s Place, says: “We’re proud to have helped so many advisers break into the industry since 2012, but particularly in the current business landscape it’s an immense achievement to have supported new businesses and helped with job creation. These graduates have been forced to adapt their initial plans, such as shifting face to face meetings to virtual ones, and it’s really impressive how they have overcome these challenges.

“We set up the Academy with the goal of encouraging more people into the financial advice profession, so we look forward to seeing these newly appointed owners become the financial planning employers of the future as their businesses grow.”