Helen Learmonth is a great advert for what the profession has to offer. The financial planner at Edinburgh-based Wealthflow returned to the profession this year after taking just under a decade out to raise three children.
An artist who has sold paintings, Learmonth had other career options. But she was convinced to come back by the firm’s founding partner, former New Model Adviser® cover star Duncan Glassey.
Glassey and Learmonth go back 17 years to Edinburgh law firm Turcan Connell. This is where they first worked together and where Glassey was financial planning director.
Conversation is easy as we walk into Wealthflow’s meeting room, with its incredible view of Edinburgh Castle, and it is not long before a first-class cup of tea is in my hand. Learmonth explains how Wealthflow works, offering its services to two distinct types of client.
The firm advises and supports clients who have received significant settlements for medical negligence or catastrophic injuries.
It also provides an advanced, holistic financial planning service to ultra-high-net-worth clients.
Both specialities offer life transition coaching. The firm uses professional coaches Danny McGuigan, whose client include the likes of Cadbury and Fujitsu, and Swedish coach Moa Diseborn, author of How to Be Happy and Rich.
So what brought her back to the profession? It was not an easy decision but Learmonth says Wealthflow’s ethos and approach were key factors in her eventual agreement.
‘Wealthflow is a different entity,’ she says. ‘There’s no initial fee, the charging structure is transparent, and the service is exceptional. Also, Duncan appreciates there has to be a work/life balance.
‘It’s great because I understand what Duncan is aiming to achieve with Wealthflow, having known him throughout the journey.’
She left advice in 2010, before the retail distribution review (RDR) had come into force. Having returned to a post-RDR world, it was interesting to ask Learmonth what she thinks has changed.
‘The good people are getting better and the not-so-good people are closing their doors,’ she says.
Wealth of experience
While pursuing further professional studies, Learmonth is enjoying getting to know clients and in meetings offers experience, insight and empathy. She describes the latter as one of her greatest strengths. This is a useful strength to have, especially when working with medical negligence and catastrophic injury clients.
Working with injured people, as well as her experience of raising her children, has given her a newfound perspective on life. ‘I understand how these incidents can change lives,’ she says.
‘I often take stock of my own situation too. Sometimes it’s healthy to realise how fortunate you are.’
Parents returning to work are in many ways ideally suited to an advice role. They can offer life experience and understanding, while also benefiting from the flexible lifestyle advice firms can often provide.
Learmonth has returned to the fold at an opportune moment, both for herself and for Wealthflow. The firm has added £10 million of assets each year for the past four years and is deepening its concentration on the medical niche.
Glassey also seems particularly enthused at present, and I suspect having his old colleague back on board will be another highlight to his year.
‘I ran a half-marathon in aid of Glasgow Children’s Hospital. My cousin’s daughter had a very serious heart condition and the hospital provided life-saving treatment.’
‘I worked on my family farm in Shetland with my three brothers throughout my childhood. There were no weekends.’
‘My ambition is to help people become as financially worry-free as possible. I aim to take at least one worry away from everyone I see.’