Playing the long game: from aspiring golfer to trainee financial planner

I grew up in Dunecht and so have always been local to the Aberdeen area, which is why when I decided to do a masters degree, Finance and Investment Management at the University of Aberdeen was an obvious choice. Prior... Read more

Blog2nd Nov 2021

By Fintan McKenna

I grew up in Dunecht and so have always been local to the Aberdeen area, which is why when I decided to do a masters degree, Finance and Investment Management at the University of Aberdeen was an obvious choice. Prior to this, I completed my bachelors degree at Carson-Newman University in Tennessee in Business Administration with a Management Emphasis.

My route to university wasn’t exactly conventional. I was a decent junior golfer and had always known I wanted to go to university in America on a scholarship. I was playing in the Scottish U18’s championship and hadn’t received many scholarship offers, until I broke the course record that week and Coach Wylie from Carson-Newman University called me pretty quickly to offer me a scholarship. It was a no brainer from there!

Studying in the States was an incredible experience and one I would highly recommend to anyone who gets the opportunity to do the same. It was an eye-opening experience, being out of my comfort zone and surrounded by people who didn’t necessarily see the world in the same way as I did. I had to learn how to be adaptable, open to discussion and find common ground to build new long-lasting relationships. Going to university in America also gave me the opportunity to continue with golf to a higher level. Being able to chase a childhood dream like that, for that long, is something that I will always be thankful for. Overall, I feel the whole experience really accelerated my personal growth and helped me recognise the importance of getting as wide a world view as possible.

Once I established that I wasn’t going to be playing professional golf, my focus shifted to my other interest, finance. From there I began to consider several routes that I might take, including ICAS and CFA. Eventually, financial planning stood out as being the most appealing path for me. I think being able to see the tangible impact our work has on our clients is a major part of that. From helping them to achieve financial freedom, to even just providing reassurance that they are on the right track, this area of the financial services industry is so rewarding at a personal level and lets you feel like you are truly helping people every day.

I had always known about AAB Wealth growing up in the area and have a few friends who already work for the firm. They all had glowing reviews for the workplace environment, the support that trainees receive and the scope for progression within the firm. Once I had established that Financial Planning was a career I wanted to pursue, I didn’t need to look far past AAB Wealth.

This is my first job since finishing my masters degree in August, so by virtue this is also my first job in financial planning. One of the caveats of the golf scholarship was that we had to play tournaments throughout the summer, meaning placements and work experience weren’t always an option.

My entire masters was also online. Working from home in that capacity had its perks due to the nature of the workload allowing me to write essays, study and watch lectures at my own pace. Being interviewed for my first graduate job, particularly one that I really wanted, from behind a screen in my bedroom was a surreal experience. Now that I’ve started working however, I am really enjoying being in an office setting. It has helped me get to know the team more naturally and ask for help more quickly and informally.

I am most looking forward to the opportunity to start my career at a reputable firm and learn in an environment that has a proven track record of supporting and encouraging trainees. Some key aspects of my role include communicating and collaborating with the rest of the AAB wealth team. Everything we do is very detail orientated, so having those clear lines of communication allows us to cater for our clients’ needs as comprehensively as possible.

To be a good golfer, you need to have a workable, personalised plan; be patient; play the long game; and be willing to accept expert advice and coaching. This experience has given me a valuable insight into the importance of having a proactive and knowledgeable partner to guide you and increase the likelihood of reaching your goals significantly. Rather than planning to perform well on the golf course, I’m looking forward to being on the other side and apply my skills to offer expert advice to our clients so that they can reach their desired lifestyle.

By Fintan McKenna

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