Vicky Pearce did not have the most conventional start to her career and faced several obstacles along the way. Here, the Women in Financial Advice Award nominee talks to Professional Adviser's Sophie King about her life and how she defied the odds, offering some wise words for women – and men – in finance
B-Compliant founder and director Vicky Pearce (pictured), nominated for Woman of the Year - Adviser Support Services, found herself entering the world of finance a few years after having her first son at just 16 years old.
Despite the hardships that came with being a young mum, Pearce says she was determined to start work as soon as she was able to. Sadly, her father passed away when she was 11, but Pearce inherited a trust fund from him, which helped put her through college and her son through nursery. However, as nursery fees were -and still are - very expensive, Pearce had no choice but to eventually drop out of college. Determined not to give up, Pearce soon found herself snapping up a role Leeds Building Society, thus kicking off her career in finance.
For the next decade or so, Pearce worked as a mortgage adviser, and held roles at not only Leeds BS but Cheltenham and Gloucester too. She then gave birth to her second son and like with her first son, decided she wanted to be there for his younger years too. Luckily, finding a part-time role was not too tricky for Pearce: "I was very fortunate that I had quite a good reputation."
A local estate agent created a role that allowed her to be a part-time mortgage adviser with them. "It was really good experience. At that point in time, that's when I did my financial planning qualifications.
"Once Luke [her second son] started school full-time, I went back into full-time work and moved into the world of financial planning and went into Barclays," she adds. After a couple of years, Pearce went back to her roots at Leeds Building Society working as a financial consultant.
'It freaked me out'
That said, after being back at Leeds Building Society for just a few months in 2008, Pearce found herself victim of an armed robbery. That day, Pearce was the only employee in plain clothes and was unfortunately working downstairs after swapping offices with her manager. The robbers, who were armed with a machete and knives, presumed she was the manager and would therefore be able to open the safe. Despite only being in the branch for no more than five minutes, Pearce says the robbery felt like it was going on for a lifetime.
Bravely, the Monday after the robbery that happened on the Friday, Pearce went back to work, despite many of her colleagues taking time off. She felt pressure to continue going in even though she was struggling with being in the office. She adds that the lack of support from her employer following the attack was slim to none. "I was more concerned about hitting my [sales] targets," she says.
While she escaped with no physical injuries, mentally, Pearce did not feel safe working at the branch. "To be honest with you, it completely freaked me out. I have a very vivid memory of it."
That was when she decided to finally leave Leeds BS for a new start and even considered changing sectors altogether. Pearce spotted a job advertised in compliance, something she had not experience with, but was keen to try. It can be tricky moving to different areas within the sector but the potential to be rejected did not stop Pearce and she successfully interviewed for the compliance role at Tenet. "They wouldn't normally take someone from an advisory role into compliance - I think [they can see it as] poacher turned gamekeeper."
Kicking off her compliance career
Fuelled with determination to succeed, Pearce worked hard to build a strong career in compliance. Since working in the area, Pearce has worked at Tenet, Brown Shipley, threesixty and Equilibrium all before deciding to set up her own business, B-Compliant, in 2018 alongside business partner Jeremy Smith. Working at previous firms gave her the tools she needed to create a successful compliance firm.
"It highlighted to me, especially together with the time I'd spent at threesixty, was that there were a lot of smaller firms out there that could really do with somebody who knew what they were doing and help them to be able to grow their business and do this compliance work, so they can focus on what they want to do which is sitting with clients."
B-Compliant was formed because Pearce felt there was a "massive gap" in the compliant support market for firms continually, rather than just visiting once to perform an audit. She wanted to build a relationship with those smaller firms so that they did not have to worry so much about the compliance aspect and could get on with being advisers. Since its launch in 2018, B-Compliant has built successful relationships with the firms it helps and Pearce only hopes to go further.
'Dust yourself off'
So, what would Pearce say to a young person just starting out in finance? With her experience as a young mum, facing danger and changing job roles, Pearce certainly has a lot of wisdom to offer to stay positive and to keep moving. "Nothing comes for free, if you put the effort in you can achieve anything."
She also cautions that you will not always win at things in life, but you have to always strive to come first: "Aim for the stars, get as far as you can get.
"I read a lot on personal psychology, emotional intelligence - it's valuable to make sure that you're able to keep yourself on top of your own mental health and make sure it isn't dragging you down."
She adds: "[The] benefits will be well and truly worthwhile. Even if something doesn't go right, pick yourself up, dust yourself off and move onto the next."
The Women in Financial Advice Awards 2020 will virtually kick off on 8 October. To find out more, please click here.
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