When I heard my name called as the Chartered Financial Planner of the Year 2019 it made the many years of hard work feel worthwhile. 

At the start of my career in financial planning I never dreamed a moment like this would come. Yet I have always wanted to learn, to develop and to grow professionally and personally. Then and now I want to be the very best I can be for myself and my clients.

It has been a remarkable 16-year journey within this profession – and I’m not finished yet! I was proud as punch when I graduated as a Chartered Financial Planner and as a Fellow of the Personal Finance Society. Having bypassed university, it was the pinnacle of my career so far and it was amazing to have a day to celebrate my own success. 

Benchmark myself
I’ve always been active within the financial planning community. I quickly realised that without the qualifications, it was difficult to benchmark myself with my peers to see where I could learn and develop. While being active helped generate fresh perspectives, I felt I lacked any validation of my professional skills, strengths and weaknesses – so I decided to enter the Personal Finance Awards.

I first entered as a paraplanner in 2012 and I won the inaugural ‘Paraplanner of the Year’ Award. The technical case study was rigorous and demanding and I enjoyed the challenge.  

After developing and growing in a financial planning role, I set my sights on entering the ‘big one’ in 2017. I made the final shortlist but did not win. I was determined to pursue this dream and while my firm won the company Chartered Financial Planning Firm of the Year in 2018, I was again shortlisted but came up short in the individual category.

My dreams came true at the third attempt when I was crowned Chartered Financial Planner of the Year Award 2019. As a previous winner said to me, the company award is fantastic but this one is for ‘me’!

Rigorous but rewarding
Without doubt the entry process is both rigorous and demanding – as you would hope. Reviewing and documenting my learning and personal development provided me with a benchmark of how far I have come in my career as a financial planner. It proved incredibly insightful, helping me articulate what is important to me – and why – and gave me food for thought about where I go next.

Being recognised in this way is just fantastic and I have benefited in countless ways. My daughter sees a successful role model, my clients feel reassured they are in the best of hands (and their referrals are too), my team is confident we train to the highest standards, my network has grown and the opportunities feel endless. 

I take great confidence from having a platform to share and support others, to promote the best of financial planning and remind people that by working together as a profession we can create an even brighter future for us all.

I encourage anyone thinking about entering the PFS Awards 2020/21 to give it a go! Allocate time in your diary to plan and refine your entry before the deadline of 1 July.

Whatever the outcome, you will find the process more enriching than you could ever imagine and your dream may just come true.

Gemma Siddle FPFS, Chartered Financial Planner of the Year, 2019/20
Director of Client Services – Eldon Financial Planning Ltd

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