I would be the first to admit that my introduction to the financial planning profession was a happy accident. After graduating I took on an admin role at Mathieson Financial Consulting, who were subsequently acquired by Thornton’s Wealth.

While working there, my curiosity got the better of me - I acquired a keen interest in all things financial planning. I wanted to understand the ‘why’ behind the documents I was processing. I also realised that I thoroughly enjoyed working closely with clients. And so began my journey to becoming a fully qualified financial planner. In fact, I’m now studying towards achieving Chartered status, such is my passion for continuously refreshing my knowledge and professional practice.

For me, relationship is everything. Clients are understandably, initially quite hesitant to let us advisers in, to give us access to their hopes and dreams. But it’s important for me to understand what drives them – it’s a personal relationship, because once I understand what they want out of life, I can advise them on how financial planning measures can help them to achieve their goals.

I really enjoy building personal relationships with clients. With every conversation I feel I get to know them a bit better, and they increasingly trust me with what’s going on in their lives. For example, if they have experienced a bereavement there may be inheritance issues to resolve, and that’s something I can help with at a very challenging time in their lives.

What does ‘good’ look like?

There’s no one all-encompassing definition of a ‘good’ financial planner! Like all personal relationships, a variety of different styles, processes and personalities will suit different clients and their needs. Equally, there’s no universal structure that can be applied to all client scenarios – which is where a good adviser adjusts their knowledge and expertise, tailoring their guidance to each and every individual client.

The key is to establish and maintain a consistent service over the long-term – I find myself working with clients over the course of many years, which becomes particularly gratifying and rewarding for both parties. Of course, life happens, things change – I encourage regular annual in-person meetings, to discuss what’s happening and what needs to be adjusted to reflect those changes.

I think that being good listener is also high on the list of skills required to be a good planner – listening carefully to what our clients are telling us and apply our specialist knowledge to helping them resolve the challenges being faced. It’s a cliché, but like most clichés, has a solid foundation in fact - financial planning really is a journey. Over the past year I’ve found this ‘whole journey’ ethos to be really well embedded at AAB Wealth.

To achieve the best outcome for a client, we need to gain a holistic understanding of their financial circumstances along with their aims and ambitions, and not focus on any area in isolation, for example, your pension. The various pieces of the puzzle are inextricably intertwined – from saving for retirement, helping your children onto the property ladder, paying for your grandchildren’s education, to buying your dream car, to that round-the-world-trip you have always dreamed of. It would be a disservice to address one issue without considering your own bigger picture, and a financial planner should be able to help bring all of these goals together and create a plan on how best to save and spend to achieve your own individual aims and ambitions .

Kelly Shek (formerly Kelly Pitcairn) is a Financial Planner at AAB Wealth, part of the AAB Group, and is based in the firm’s Aberdeen office.