Women in Finance – series of blogs, episode 11

Allison Charlton, Private Wealth Operations Manager

In this latest instalment of Women in Finance, we had the privilege of speaking with Allison Charlton, Private Wealth Operations Manager at Foster Denovo. In this eleventh episode, Allison shares her remarkable journey as she seamlessly transitioned through various roles within the company.

Allison started working at Foster Denovo when the company was just beginning. In this instalment, she talks about her journey from her first job to her current role as Private Wealth Operations Manager. She also gives advice to anyone looking to start and grow their career in the industry.

Here, Allison provides an insightful look into her career at Foster Denovo:

“Before joining Foster Denovo, I worked in Life Insurance for about 16 years until I was unfortunately made redundant. In 2006, a friend who already worked at Foster Denovo, mentioned several job openings. At that time, the company was only three years old and much smaller than it is now. I started as a Sales Support Administrator, handling basic admin tasks at the reception. Since then, my job responsibilities have naturally evolved over time, allowing me to grow with the company.

After my initial role, I progressed to a managerial position within Sales Support. In 2016, Helen, our Chief Operating Officer, asked me to move to one of our sub-brands – Secondsight. Initially, I was unsure because I enjoyed my current role and was hesitant about change. However, I decided to make the move and loved it!

Then in 2021, Helen approached me again about transitioning to another sub-brand, Private Wealth. For a while, I managed admin tasks for both Secondsight and Private Wealth, but more recently I decided to focus solely on Private Wealth. Much of my career progression has been driven by opportunities presented by my colleagues and managers, who believed in me and encouraged me to take on new challenges, which I have thoroughly enjoyed.

In my current role as Private Wealth Operations Manager, I oversee the admin functions of the paraplanning and mortgage desk teams. My responsibility is to unify the Private Wealth services, helping to make sure we provide a robust and consistent service across all aspects of Private Wealth support.

I recently project managed an acquisition which I was initially nervous about because it was entirely new to me, but now I’m starting my second acquisition project with much more confidence. It’s all about being open to opportunities and willing to take on new challenges. I’ve been fortunate to have very supportive people to report to throughout my career.

When I joined Foster Denovo, I was simply looking for a job I enjoyed with colleagues I liked working with, and I believe I found exactly that. I never expected to progress as much as I have. One of the things I love the most about my job is overseeing the admin side where I get to see new joiners, often fresh out of university or school, grow and develop. Watching them start as administrators and advance to Practice Leads, Practice Managers or become trainee Paraplanners is incredibly rewarding. It’s a great feeling to know you played a part in their journey and see how far they’ve come.”

Here, Allison shares her advice on entering the industry and her thoughts on the positive changes for women in finance.

“You have to be willing to try new things. Being open to opportunities is crucial because you might discover something you truly love that you would have missed out on if you hadn’t taken a risk. It’s daunting to take on something unknown, especially if you’re comfortable with what you’re currently doing. But if you don’t take those chances, you’ll never know what you’re missing out on.

It’s important to show women that they can have both a career and a family, and to demonstrate that times are changing. For instance, at Foster Denovo, it’s common for women to outnumber men in management meetings. This might not be the case in every company, but it shows a broader trend. We are also much more flexible with working hours now with many of our employees fitting in working around school pick-ups. This kind of flexibility wasn’t available before, and many women might have had to leave their jobs.

LinkedIn has also become a powerful platform for encouragement and inspiration. Seeing people similar to you succeed can boost your confidence and belief that you can do it too. Knowing what you want and expressing it is vital. At a company like ours, we’re encouraged to voice our aspirations and get involved in projects we’re passionate about. Making people aware that these opportunities exist can inspire and motivate them.”