Providing support for the development of your employees will sow the seeds of success.

Academy for Coaching Excellence director Maria Nemeth created a document we use regularly with clients. The ‘Life’s Intention Inventory’ lists numerous intentions, such as being well-educated and financially successful, and includes a space for people to rank these from one to five in terms of importance.

Tucked away towards the bottom of the list is ‘an effective mentor’. It could easily be overlooked. But many of our clients are nearing the end of their business lives and anticipating a change in their lifestyle.

So we have found it becomes more important to them to pass something on, assist someone in picking up where they left off, and help others grow and develop.

For us, the value of mentoring is fundamental to our practice. It goes hand in hand with other company values, such as personal development and contribution to the community.

Natural progression

The growth of mentoring in our company has been organic. The seed was sewn in 2010, when we took on a young administrator. He had completed a finance degree at Manchester University and wanted to complete the certified financial planner (CFP) qualification, at that time administered by the Institute of Financial Planning (IFP).

My fellow director Paul Jones, who had completed his CFP in 2007, poured his enthusiasm for the organisation and the pure financial planning qualification into supporting our junior. The pride when he passed the CFP was shared by Paul, who saw his protégée reach this important step on the financial planning ladder.

It was around that time Paul took on the task of setting up a Lancashire and Cumbria branch of the IFP, taking on the role of branch chair until 2014. This was my own personal period of life-changing development. Being mentored by Paul, I discovered the world of financial planning as opposed to the product-centred background I had become cynical of at my previous company.

He encouraged me to resume my professional qualifications, and even apply for awards. That feeling of being supported and encouraged was something I definitely wanted to instil in our employees when I became director of the company in 2012.

Personal development

Our current trainee is Jack Madeley. He is working part time alongside his studies for a degree in financial mathematics at Lancaster University.

As well as developing the basic administrative skills needed to make him a valued member of our team, Jack regularly sits alongside Paul or David [Norbury, senior paraplanner], cultivating an understanding of holistic financial planning as well as technical knowledge.

Both are generous with their time and explanations, pointing him in the right direction for further reading or giving him the opportunity to put together his own strategies or theories. We encourage everyone in the business to attend events, seminars or conferences. For example, we took Jack to the Personal Finance Society Festival of Financial Planning in November.

The challenge with Jack is keeping up with him. Since joining us just less than a year ago, he has completed the Chartered Insurance Institute’s R03 exam, in addition to a university year. He can run rings around us in terms of technology, and frequently greets us first thing in the morning with obscure questions about derivatives, fund management styles or occupational pensions.

We greet these challenges with enthusiasm and his endless questions with patience. Watching those financial planning lightbulb moments is like watching a child taking their first steps.

We will continue as an organisation to support and mentor our staff, and challenge each other to maintain growth and development. Not only is this beneficial to our financial planning practice and subsequently our clients, but it is what keeps us engaged, inspired, and brings joy to our work.

Jane Holt is director at Mackenzie Financial Planning.