Are you honest and hardworking? Maybe you’re in financial services already and looking for a move. Maybe you’ve never worked in our industry before but would like to give it a try. If so, please send us your CV. We shall treat it in the strictest confidence and if a position comes up that might suit you, we’ll give you a call. Most of our staff had never worked in financial services until they came here, so give it a go! We want colleagues who take pride in their work and who want to earn their living by enhancing the financial well-being of others. We offer mentoring and support to help you achieve your goals as part of our team in a friendly, straightforward and fun working environment. We are a fair-pay employer and have always paid significantly more than the Real Living Wage even to our most junior new-joiners. We also pay 9% of your baseline salary into our in-house pension arrangement if you choose it over the government-prescribed workplace pension. We also offer a generous bonus scheme which fairly rewards effort and achievement.
Skills-wise, we intensively train all staff, but there are some qualities you must have. We require honesty, a good work-ethic and integrity. All our advisers are employed; none are self-employed on commission-only deals. Quality of advice is the imperative here.
We need people who –
- Are confident, pleasant, polite and presentable.
- Have excellent maths and English. You need to be able to write grammatical letters, to spell and work well with numbers.
- Contribute original thought and use initiative. If you believe you know how we can do something better, tell us.
- Are self-motivated and driving.
- Have good inter-personal skills to deal with clients, suppliers, providers and other staff.
- Are problem-solvers and work-doers, not buck-passers.
- Are flexible. This is a small firm so we all do whatever it takes to get the job done.
- Are regular attenders and good timekeepers. We don’t keep lazy people.
- Have a positive upbeat mental attitude. This is a can-do business. Negative people drag everyone down.
- Are ‘we-thinkers’, not ‘me-thinkers’. We don’t tolerate those who bully colleagues or set them up to make mistakes and fail.
In terms of career development, how high you climb and how fast is down to you alone. To be an advisor you need to pass exams. That will require studying in your own time, in lunch breaks and/or at home. We expect you to put the effort in. If you do, we’ll reward it. There are no glass ceilings here. Everyone in the business can rise as far and as fast as his or her abilities can take them.
Do we sound strict? Yes, we do have some non-negotiable absolutes but this is also a friendly place to work with no gender pay gap. All our staff are long-time employed so we must be doing something right. We don’t micro-manage because no good manager wants to be a micro-manager and no sane person wants to be micro-managed. We like people to be as self-managing as possible. If you succeed here you can work just about anywhere in financial services because we cover pretty much everything. We will support you to help you acquire internationally-recognised qualifications that will make you eminently employable. We’ve had some great success stories come out of our firm and we’re still friends with them in their new careers elsewhere. We trained them up from scratch and they’ve become advisers and paraplanners in their own right. One day there’s every possibility they’ll work here again. We have no problem re-employing those we’ve classed as ‘good leavers’ who’ve gone on to broaden their horizons.
All the world is self-employed
In reality everyone in the world is self-employed, it’s just that a lot of people don’t realise it. They think the self-employed v employee thing is just about one’s tax status. It’s not. Everyone is self-employed because they organise themselves in such a way as to make employers want to hire them. If their employer goes down and they are sufficiently organised they’ll find another employer or they’ll start their own business. Or, alternatively, they don’t organise themselves whereupon they become self-unemployed. When I hear business people boasting about how many people work “for” them I always think they’re deluded. In reality everyone works for themselves. Before I had my own business I still worked for my own benefit, for me to get what I wanted. Obviously, I had to deliver what my employers wanted and that was fair enough, but I was working primarily for my own benefit. So, I never say that anyone “works for us”. Our employees work with us. We’re all travelling on the same road to pretty similar destinations and we’ll get their faster and in better shape if we co-operate as fully as possible and try to make each other’s lives easier along the way.
Making the Workplace Work for Everyone
Flexibility in the workplace is not a new thing. Smart employers have always recognised that it can give them an edge when hiring. Most of her life my mother worked in tailoring, stopping only when I was born to become a stay-at-home mum for a few years. Then, when I was seven, the boss of a local tailoring firm drove to her house with one of his employees to ask her to work for him. They were shorthanded so he asked around the factory who was good at the job they needed to fill and my mother’s name came up. She explained she couldn’t work normal factory hours owing to me being at school so they worked out a deal that suited them both. She worked until she retired, never missed a day and was always grateful for the flexibility she’d been shown. It was an early lesson to me that the employer-employee relationship is a two-way street in a lot more ways than the obvious one whereby the employee exchanges time and work for pay.
Since I founded West Riding in 2004 most of my hires have been women. It wasn’t planned that way, it just happened. Most but not all. For a couple of years, I had a male PA who has gone on to be a very successful adviser in his own right. I hire on merit alone. Most have come to us from outside financial services and all like me were state-educated. Our standard job specification, the text of which has been substantially used on this web page, has become somewhat famous in the IFA community and a number of other firms have asked our permission to copy and adapt it for their own use.
As a firm we’re as informal as possible and we find that generally works best for all concerned. Within the confines of what it takes to get the job done we aim to be as flexible as possible. Anyone can ask us to make an adjustment to how we do things and if it’s reasonable then the chances are, we’ll do it. Why? Simply because we aim to get the best people possible. Pay is the most obvious benefit in any job and we’re very competitive in terms of salary, bonus and pension, but working for a small firm doesn’t suit everyone. To give us an edge therefore we build-in the kind of working that makes employees’ lives more liveable. Modern life is stressful and people have to balance competing demands on their time and energy, so if we can alleviate that, we do. We’re too small to operate a standard flexitime system but we work on the basis that if staff don’t clock-watch us, we don’t clock-watch them. Where mothers need time out for their kids’ needs, we either let them work the time over lunch hours if it’s significant or we just give them it if it’s a small amount of time, say needing to leave a half-hour early or to get in a bit late occasionally. If a mother needs to nip out urgently because they’ve had a call from their kid’s school and they don’t have their own transport, I’ll usually drive them myself. Where somebody wants to visit the hairdresser or nail bar, we let them reorganise their lunch hours to go maybe mid-morning or mid-afternoon when appointments are easier to get, but if it’s somebody who regularly works over then we’ll just give them the time without them needing to make it up. That way they don’t have to tie up their evenings and weekends.
We run the firm in such a way as employees feel genuinely secure. Years ago, I had a friend at AVIVA when it was still Norwich Union and he was having to re-apply for his own job every year. How can anyone organise their lives on that basis when they never know how long their job will last? We figure that to be happy people have to feel secure and we do everything we can so that their jobs are as secure as we can make them. We invest in all our staff and the aim is that all our advisers become chartered. Toni Turton started with us as my PA in 2011 from a debt-collecting firm and is now our Operations Director. We’re really proud of our people’s achievements. Nikita Kyle joined us from a logistics firm and smashed every exam first time to qualify in three years from a standing start.
We’ll never send a woman out to do a client visit unaccompanied unless it’s an established client whom we know and she’s happy to go. Likewise, if ever there’s only one woman in the office on her own, they don’t have to open the door to anyone whoever it is. Any other adjustments we can reasonably make we do make, like accompanying female staff who have to take lonely routes after dark when leaving the office. Castleford is not a bad town but it does have its problems.
We buy our colleagues what they want within reason. Toni wanted two screens instead of one given the nature of her daily work. No problem. Somebody needs a more comfortable chair? They find one they like and I give them my credit card. I’ve worked for mean people who won’t buy the right kit for the job and it’s no fun. Having fun at work is definitely one of our business aims. Basically, the people here know that if they want something and it’s reasonable, they can have it. We’ve even installed a shower and hairdryer so staff can freshen up if they feel the need, or if they want to get changed and go out someplace straight after work. I use the shower at work myself quite often if I’ve had an early start (like 4am instead of 6am) and my energy is dropping later in the day. Ice cold showers are my substitute for cocaine. They’re free, legal, and your nose doesn’t fall off.
Social-wise, we have a company year-end dinner every July, a Christmas bash in December and a summer barbecue at our place around my birthday in July. Like we said, it’s fun! We look after our people. You just have to earn it. Our aim is that for the right people, there should be no better company to work with. If this sounds like you, please get in touch. We may not have a vacancy at the moment but when we do have, we’ll call you.
We asked our staff why they enjoy working here and these are the answers we got. This is them talking – not us –
“You’re respected – your views and opinions are actually valued.”
“It’s a busy, friendly and professional working environment. You don’t have time to get bored!”
“There’s none of the unnecessary red tape and hierarchical crap you get from working in large corporate firms.”
“There are great opportunities for career progression.”
“It’s interesting and varied work. No two days are the same.”
“Most business comes from satisfied clients and from the friends and family they refer to us so it makes for a very friendly working environment. Clients genuinely become friends.”
“Complete job satisfaction. I see us getting great results for the clients we look after and I feel great about it.”
“Competitive salaries and a generous pension scheme. And we REALLY love the bonus scheme which is completely fair and transparent.”
“Nobody gets dumped on. We really are all in it together.”
“Even the boss takes his turn making tea and coffee. Heaven!”