Self-employment means more control of life

Improved quality of life was one of the main motivating factors for successful St. James’s Place graduate Angus Watson.

Angus served for 16 years in the Black Watch, which became part of the Royal Regiment of Scotland in 2006. Before completing his intermediate regular commission, he began looking for a new civilian career and found the St. James’s Place Academy to be an ideal fit.

“When I left the military, I wanted a second career where I could be more in control – and the financial services sector looked really good,” he said.

“It’s about dealing with clients, dealing with people and building those relationships. I found out about the Academy and it really appealed to me, with the training foundations in place and the control to start my own business.”

The first six months of the Academy programme, much of which is classroom-based, trains participants to acquire professional qualifications, and technical and client-facing skills.

The second section, which lasts 18 months, develops skills and experience. A mentor supports participants, demonstrates best practice and provides guidance as required, assisted by dedicated St. James’s Place Partnership Development Managers.

“There is financial support offered but it’s very much done on an individual basis as well as academic support from the Academy,” said Angus. “They are there to make you a success.”

And the key elements for a successful move into wealth management come down to simple ingredients, many of which will be intrinsic to service leavers.

It’s people-based, it’s about creating personal relationships with potential clients,” said Angus.

“The other side of it is about being organised and disciplined and just doing the work which needs to be done. That self-motivation is pretty essential.”

“It’s not just an officer’s sport, it’s for anyone who is capable of having a conversation and who is prepared to go and talk to someone they don’t know. You still need an element of academic ability but the exams are manageable.

“If anyone is thinking about it, I would say go for it. Be aware that it’s not necessarily easy to start a base and build that up; but if you are prepared to put in that hard work, particularly for the first few years, the benefits are substantial, not just in terms of financial reward but also quality of life.  

However, if you decide that building your own business isn’t for you then there is an alternative option available where you can join an already established successful St. James’s Place Practice as an Adviser.”

The move has allowed Angus to spend more time with his wife and three children; Isabella, who is 12, Evie, 8 and 4-year-old Harry.

“As someone who is self-employed, you are in control of life in a way you are not in the military,” he said. “I am under no illusion about how hard success will be and how hard I will have to work. There will certainly be sacrifices as success builds and the business grows but I will have a lot more control, which is what I want in the long term.”

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.