Women in Finance – series of blogs, episode 2

Marnel Stafford, Financial Adviser

For episode 2 of the Women in Finance blog series, we spoke to Marnel Stafford to find out a little bit more about her inspirational story on relocating from South Africa, initially joining Foster Denovo in a temporary role and working her way up to becoming a successful fully-fledged financial adviser.   

Marnel has been with us for over 2 years now. She joined Foster Denovo in March 2020 as a Client Experience Executive, providing administrative support to one of our successful female advisers, Grace Agnew, who was also her mentor. We are pleased to say that in 2022 Marnel opened her own practice, joining forces with Grace.

In this piece, Marnel is sharing with us a little bit about her journey, life at Foster Denovo and her love for South Africa.

“Many people wonder how I ended up in financial services, given my strong background in Marketing. It all started back in South Africa, my beloved birthplace, when my dad dared me to study finances – he knows how to encourage me to push myself and get out of my comfortable zone. He inspires me in many ways and, because of him, I decided to take a tax exam.  

I used to believe that I wasn’t very good with numbers as I’ve always been more of a people person, so I was really surprised and pleased when I passed the tax exam with a distinction. This gave me the confidence I needed to take a number of other financial exams and qualified as an adviser. Soon I realised that a career in finances could lead to great things, as I could combine my people skills with my knowledge in numbers. I then started building my network in South Africa.  

The journey that led me here was a bit daunting to start with, as coming to the UK with South African qualifications wasn’t straightforward. I took a temporary role in the administration team at Foster Denovo, working closely with Grace Agnew, a very successful and influential financial adviser in the business. Soon my role became permanent, and I started having mentoring sessions with Grace which, combined with all the training, support and opportunities from Foster Denovo, has allowed me to progress in my role fairly quickly.   

I also joined the Foster Denovo Adviser Academy, where I learned the soft and technical skills needed as an adviser. This not only provided me with the knowledge required to build relationships and support clients, but it was a great way to network with other advisers in the business and tap into their expertise; it’s a very open sharing knowledge culture, which I am grateful for. Two years on and I am now qualified to provide financial advice on personal tax, trust planning, investment planning, retirement income products, and protection, both in the UK and in South Africa.  

I continue working alongside Grace, and together we have built a strong reliable infrastructure for our clients.

We combine our knowledge and skills to support our clients and benefit from the support available at Foster Denovo, including admin, paraplanning, compliance, marketing, IT, just to name a few. Having a strong team behind us means that we can work more efficiently and dedicate our time to building and developing relationship with our existing clients, as well as allowing time to meet new clients and grow our business.   

My 5-year goal is to now build an established legacy that I am proud of to hand over to the younger generation in the future. I am keen to support young, aspiring financial advisers joining our business in the same way I had this support, I’d like to help those coming into the industry. I think it’s important to future proof our business and ensure our clients benefit from having a bigger advisory team ready to support them to achieve their financial goals.”