Women in Finance – series of blogs, episode 10

Grace Agnew, Self Employed Partner

In this edition of our Women in Finance series, where we are thrilled to feature Grace Agnew, a Self-Employed Partner at Foster Denovo. In our tenth episode, Grace offers a candid look into her life and role within the financial services industry.

Grace shares her career journey, giving us an insight into how she became a Self-Employed Partner at Foster Denovo.

I began my career over 24 years ago, somewhat unintentionally, when I started as a temp at Aviva performing data entry before securing a full-time role. It was there I first felt drawn to the impactful role of a Financial Adviser, captivated by the prospect of helping others manage their financial lives. Inspired, I pursued the necessary qualifications and climbed the ranks within Aviva. My journey lead me from Glasgow to London and concluded with a pivotal move to Foster Denovo in 2009.

At Foster Denovo, I work alongside Marnel, another financial planner. Together, we blend our skills to serve our clients admirably. My focus is on client engagement and relationship building, while Marnel handles the technical aspects of their financial planning. This partnership thrives on mutual respect and shared career goals, which allows us to deliver the best possible service to our clients.

Our teamwork is also complemented by Ryan, a Client Relationship Manager, who supports our efforts by liaising with insurance providers. We consider ourselves the dream team with a vibrant work dynamic and a supportive and friendly environment.

Before forming our wonderful team, I worked with various advisers within Foster Denovo. This collaborative spirit is part of what makes Foster Denovo an excellent place for Financial Advisers looking for a supportive and integrated work environment. I believe this is crucial in a field that can sometimes feel lonely due to constantly working by yourself.

My life took an exciting turn last year when I moved to Dubai with my partner. Despite the location change, my work remains largely uninterrupted thanks to the opportunity of having flexibility and being able to work mainly online. I appreciate that many of my clients prefer to communicate via video calls however, I frequently travel back to London to meet clients face-to-face – a practice I still value greatly.

Living in Dubai offers me a really unique advantage; the time difference allows me to do a lot more of my free tasks in the morning, before I start work, freeing me up to focus on my clients when it’s the morning in London.

Grace outlines both her passion for her career and the hurdles she has overcome along the way.

The most fulfilling part of my job is demystifying finances for my clients. It’s rewarding to simplify complex information and help people understand their financial options. This not only alleviates their overwhelm but can be life-changing. Many clients, for instance, have been able to retire earlier than they thought possible after our consultations. Over the years, my clients have become like family; we share not just financial discussions but life stories. Building these deep, trusting relationships is central to my approach, and it can often lead to generational client engagement, where children of clients also seek our guidance.

One of my primary goals is to enhance my presence on social media, which varies by location; Instagram is key in Dubai, while LinkedIn is more prevalent in the UK. I also aim to start a podcast with my colleague Marnel, to dispel the myth that finance is boring and to make financial knowledge accessible, particularly to women. There’s a unique approach many women can bring to financial advising, which can be extremely beneficial for those unfamiliar with the industry.

Earlier in my career, team dynamics were a challenge; working with the wrong colleagues can hinder progress significantly. Now, with a supportive team, the work environment has greatly improved. Navigating compliance regulations has also been a hurdle, though this has improved over time with regulations becoming more standardised and fairer.

Here, Grace shares her advice on getting into the industry and how she believes times have changed positively towards women in finance.

I recommend diving straight into the field rather than pursuing a university degree first. Joining a company like Foster Denovo allows you to climb the ladder from within, learn directly about client management, and progress as an adviser more swiftly. This route not only accelerates your career but also provides the benefit of working in a supportive, family-like environment where everyone is eager to help.

The landscape for women in finance has definitely improved, but challenges remain, particularly around confidence. Women can be just as qualified as their male counterparts, having passed the same exams and earned the same qualifications. However, it feels like there’s a tendency for women to undervalue themselves. Women in finance must embrace confidence, recognise their value, and aspire to higher opportunities without hesitation.