7 February 2024

Spotlight Series - Darren McMillan

Talk us through your career to date

In 2016, I joined the financial planning world as a young, lad straight out of high school. University did not interest me as sitting more exams was not high on my agenda. Litte did I know what I was in for…

My idea out of school was to get a job at a high street bank and to try work my way up the ranks. I then found myself in a Modern Apprenticeship role at Balmoral Asset Management which was an Edinburgh based Independent Financial Advisers firm – at the time I did not even know what a financial adviser was. As you might expect in an IFA, the role was very fast paced, meaning my maturity levels had to increase rapidly. This role set the foundation of my financial planning knowledge and I soon learned that to get where I wanted to go, I was going to have to sit more exams (16 to date!). Whilst working my way through some of the diploma exams, I was promoted to the position of paraplanner working directly with the Managing Director.

At the time, I was considering taking a year to work in another country. I moved to a firm who provided advice to British Expats living all over the world. It was in this role that I was able to complete the final exam to achieve my Diploma. After spending a year in the role, I realised that the part of the role that excited me was meeting with clients face-to-face which was not possible with these clients being all over the world.

Keen to get back into the UK advice role, I sent my CV to Carbon and after a couple of interviews, I was offered the position of a Senior Paraplanner, joining in 2021. Through the support provided by Carbon, I now find myself in the Financial Planning team and a Chartered Financial Planner at the age of 25 which I am really proud of.

Tell us about your role and Carbon and why you wanted to work for the business?

I recently transitioned into the Carbon Financial Planner team with the position having been a goal of mine since joining the industry in 2016. My role at the minute is very much to provide support to the senior planners, developing my knowledge and my own style, with a view on taking on a more active role as my training progresses.

I wanted to work with Carbon as the importance of employee wellbeing in the business is so prominent. Genuine financial planning is at the heart of the business and Carbon are probably one of the few firms that encourage clients to withdraw from their arrangements to tick off their bucket list items. By promoting the strong culture and values within the business, Carbon have built an extremely dedicated team which is evidenced by the number of people looking to further their knowledge through exams, courses and training. Carbon have provided incredible support to my development, without which, I would not be in the position I am today.

What is it about your role that excites and inspires you?

For me, the most exciting part of the role is getting to meet so many individuals and see the effect that our advice/planning can have on their lives. Many new and existing clients come to us concerned about their financial arrangements and whether they have built enough wealth up to support their lifestyles in retirement. The fact that our role allows us to sketch the long-term image for clients is invaluable. Be it, identifying where a client may need to reduce expenditure now to support their future lifestyle or that a client is living well within their means and encourage them to take the holiday they have always dreamed of. It can be so rewarding hearing the stories of clients we have helped take the steps to do something they have always wanted, but maybe thought were not within their means.

From your perspective, what are the key financial issues to be aware of over the next few years?

As the last couple years have proved, it is an ever changing and unpredictable world. Engaging with a financial planner can help provide comfort through the tough times and help relieve the stress of managing their finances which can often be a huge burden to handle.

What is the most important piece of advice you give to your clients?

As a young individual, my one piece of advice would be that it is never too early to begin planning for the future. The sooner that you are on top of your financial arrangements, the more robust they will be as you approach retirement.

If you would like to discuss your financial situation with our team directly, please contact us.

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