Making the leap from navigation officer to financial adviser proved scary but incredibly satisfying for former Navy lieutenant Louise Worrall.
Louise, who served as a navigator and media officer on HMS Bangor during her six years in the Navy, began studying at the St. James’s Place Academy after she was medically discharged from the service following a serious back injury.
And she is urging other veterans to consider making what she agrees is a daunting leap into the unknown.
“It’s the scary aspect of self-employment and not knowing what’s out there for you,” she said.
“One of the course tutors put it really well when he said that with the military, it doesn’t bother us going off to war zones but it’s a lot scarier to take the leap into becoming self-employed.”
Becoming a self-employed financial adviser
Louise began studying with the St. James’s Place Academy last year after her mother-in-law Elizabeth Worrall, a financial adviser for many years, suggested the career to her.
She received guidance and support from the Career Transition Partnership and the Officers’ Association, but her career prospects were restricted by her health issues following her medical discharge.
“I was quite limited in that, due to my injury and condition I left the Navy in, proper full-time employment was not an option for me, so self-employment is ideal.
“St. James’s Place have been incredible with my medical situation and, being self-employed, I have the flexibility to work around hospital appointments and my health issues.”
What does the St. James's Place Academy course involve?
The Academy course involves six months full-time studying before combining tuition and employment for a further 18 months.
“It means you’re not earning for the first six months, but you can access loans at really good rates to bridge that gap – and even when you become self-employed, the support you are offered is similar to that which you would get if you were an employee.
“The support you receive in the military is so good and once you leave to go self-employed, it’s really, really scary at first.
“There is such opportunity out there for people if they are prepared to work hard, which is something ex-military people are really good at. For me personally, when I left I felt as if I’d lost the career that I loved and needed to find something I could do and do well.
“It’s very satisfying because when you leave the military, you can lose your identity. I used to be a navigator who ran, and then I couldn’t do either which really knocked me so I was lucky to find this new challenge.”
Military skills ideal for career in financial services
Louise believes service leavers can be ideally suited to a career in financial services with several qualities transferring well into the sector.
“Forces people tend to have articulation, confidence, the ability to concentrate and get the job done, whatever that job is. They have a good work ethic and the ability to take on lots of information,” she said.
“We are good at taking instruction, which is vital when you’re learning new skills, we are good at working with people and we are not afraid of hard work – which is vital because starting a business is hard work. It’s hard work, but not as hard work as being in the military.”
Why not visit The Academy to find out more?
The St. James's Place Academy holds regular open evenings across the country where you can find out more about their training and what it's like to become one of their financial advisers.