Spotlight on Eliana Sydes

The annual Women in Financial Advice Awards aim to recognise the talents and achievements of some of the top-performing females in the financial services industry.

Eliana Sydes

Eliana Sydes, Chartered Financial Planner from Tilney’s Exeter office, has won the 2018 Financial Adviser of the Year award and South West and Wales Financial Adviser of the Year award at the inaugural Women in Financial Advice Awards.

These prestigious awards aim to recognise the talents and achievements of some of the top-performing females in the financial services industry. Succeeding in an industry that is traditionally seen as male-dominated is no mean feat, so we are delighted that this year a number of the women within our wider Tilney Group have won and were shortlisted. Find out more about Eliana’s career and achievements, along with why she is a deserving winner of these awards.

Tell us more about how you started your financial planning career

I previously worked in IT for 18 years, at big name companies such as HP and Dell so it took a number of life changes to lead me to retrain as a financial adviser.

I found myself at a point where I had two young children when my husband became seriously ill. I needed a career that would suit my family life, as well as challenge my brain. In 2008, a friend said that I was inquisitive enough to be a good adviser, and gave me the first manual from the Chartered Insurance Institute (CII) to read. Twenty-two months later I achieved the Fellow of the Personal Finance Society (FPFS) status.

Coming into this industry as a second career means I have an awareness of what it means to be a client as well as an adviser. I hold onto that memory to ensure that I do not become institutionalised.

'I have an awareness of what it means to be a client as well as an adviser.'

What motivates you to continue to provide the best possible advice and service for your clients?

I also face many of the same challenges that other women face today, so without a doubt, my personal life informs my approach to financial planning and motivates me to help others. I specialise in the key areas of divorce, dementia and death. These are three of the adverse life experiences that often impact women’s lives and can lead to increased poverty. And if this is the case, no woman should be worse off in life than her male counterpart because she is a provider of more than just finances.

More than 60% of my work involves working alongside solicitors on vulnerable clients where tact, emotional empathy and the ability to see a different way forward can be key to reaching a solution that enhances their family situation. Financial planning is not just about growing money, it is about empowering people to lead the life they want. Through detailed forecasts and plans, which show clients how their hopes and dreams can come to life, a client can believe in their future and take ownership going forward. This is why I love the job I do.

It's clear that you have achieved an awful lot in your career, but which achievement are you proudest of?

It’s quite a well-known fact that as with so many other industries, within financial services few women are represented in senior roles. As a result, I have ensured that I am highly qualified. 

As a Fellow, I am proud to be one of the most highly qualified women bringing a female perspective to financial planning. And, as I believe that we can never know enough, I am also proud to have achieved the highest cohort mark for the STEP Award for Financial Services before moving onto complete the Later Life Adviser Accreditation for the Society of Later Life Advisers and the STEP Professional Postgraduate Diploma in Wealth Advising. I am also a Dementia Friends champion, bringing awareness of dementia to the general public. 

Consequently, I now present at conferences and I am involved in many senior industry committees. I am also a part of various taskforces that aim to highlight the financial needs of women at different times in their lives.

Alongside all of this, I believe that raising the voice of women in finance is crucial. I see my knowledge and experience as a way of challenging perspectives of women and finance. I hope all of our daughters, nieces and granddaughters will benefit from these changes. This would then be my greatest and proudest achievement. 

'I see my knowledge and experience as a way of challenging perspectives of women and finance.'

What advice would you give to women looking to start a career in the financial services industry?

Believe that you can do it. Envision yourself as an adviser – a good adviser  and appreciate the dedication required to pass the exams. Make sure you are well qualified, it is not enough to just have the basics. Often, clients’ finances are too complex to rely only on the diploma exams.

Try to work with people who challenge you to constantly better yourself. Also, put yourself into environments that make you uncomfortable. It stops you from becoming institutionalised and keeps you human. 

In an industry that is ever-changing, always stay current.

And give back to society. Take all your knowledge and share it with those who cannot afford to reach you directly. 

It is a fantastic career, so most importantly, enjoy it!

How we can help

For more information on how we could help you, please call us on 020 7189 2400 or email contact@tilney.co.uk.

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