Jillian Thomas started Future Life Wealth Management to offer a different kind of financial planning. She noticed the industry was crying out for transparency and integrity, so set up a business that offered this. Her bespoke customer centric approach to financial advice has bagged her numerous awards, including our Inspiring Leader of the Year Award, so we grabbed Jillian for a quick chat.
How did you come up with the idea for your business?
After the financial crisis and the introduction of the Retail Distribution Review, I realised that a new type of financial advisor was desperately needed.
I believed that a practice that could act as a ‘one stop shop’ was the way forward. I wanted to build a framework around the client and their unique needs, allowing different professions - such as accountants and solicitors - to join me and offer advice and thinking as one.
Overall, I felt the trust had been lost in an industry I loved, and I needed to do my bit to restore that trust and respect. The rest, as they say, is history.
What were some of the initial challenges you faced and how did you overcome them?
We are one of the few industries required to be authorised before we can trade. Whilst confident that our application would be approved, the delays, particularly while I was unable to work and earn money were awful.
I decided to call my MP for help as I found it unacceptable that my application would be looked at “sometime in the next months, maybe up to 12 months.” I gained approval 5 weeks after this.
How did you fund your business?
Out of personal savings. It was incredibly frightening to see all of my money move out of the building society book and into the business account. What made it even more terrifying was paying bills but being unable to trade, because I was still waiting for FSA authorisation to come through.
What is your top tip for growing your business?
Understand the power of being the ‘expert’ at your chosen subject and ensure that you use all media channels to get your expertise (and name) recognised. It’s a very cost effective way of getting your brand out there quickly.
Why would you recommend that people build their network and find the support they need to start and grow their business?
You need to find people who will gift you their time and expertise, and preferably people who have already succeeded. Don’t just ask them what went right, also ask what didn’t go well and what they learned from these issues. Ask for help, ask for a referral to people they know, and ask for warm leads.
There are many so called ‘industry professionals’ that tell you how to succeed, but they haven’t run a business and laid awake at night worrying how to pay the wages. Find those who have actually been there and you’ll learn so much more.
Also, find positive people. Negative people will drain you, sap your positivity and will prevent you striding towards your dreams.
How do you maintain a work/life balance?
With difficulty, particularly at the start of establishing the business. However, as our reputation has grown it has enabled me to attract and employ better quality employees, allowing me more time to work on the business, while they work in it.
How has mentorship made a difference in your business?
My mentors were very useful when times were difficult – they insisted that I could achieve my objectives and that I was good enough. They taught me that a girl with a dream, could become a woman with a vision.
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