The journey setting up Bluebell Financial Management has been a very personal one.
"Bluebell denotes ‘kindness, support, nurture and caring’ which simply encapsulates in one word exactly what Bluebell Financial Management is all about."
I could not wait to leave school after my GCSEs and focus on starting my own business but with no real idea what that business might be! So I parked that pipe dream and embarked on an old style apprenticeship (Youth Trainee Scheme) and when that two year course finished I fell into Financial Services.
That was 1994 and it was there that my love of finance was born, and I forged a successful Financial Planning career which has prospered over the past two decades. It has been a career that suits my personality; I love to chat, socialise, and help people but primarily I love to feel like I am making a difference, whether that is helping to clarify someone’s current situation or ensuring they are receiving everything to which they are entitled. From early on I gravitated towards supporting the vulnerable and elderly and I found that they responded positively and gravitated towards me.
Family is so important to me and in 2006 I took a career break to focus on my greatest achievement – our two boys, James (now 16) and Matthew (now 14). My husband, Peter, and I had waited a long time for our family (James was our 5th and Matthew our 6th pregnancy). I gave up my client bank to be a full-time Mum.
Many of my clients remained in touch on a personal level sending Christmas cards and letters and gifts for the boys. When I initially returned to work doing 10 hours a week in 2010 I did part of the previous role I had so enjoyed, but I wasn’t client facing and I missed it. I missed making a difference. It was another four years before I felt in a position to return to the role of Financial Planner, setting about filling in the gaps of the previous eight years and building my client bank up again. I picked up where I left off, sat some more exams and qualified as a Chartered Financial Planner in 2015.
It was different second time around. I was now a Mum with real life experiences and the relationship I had with my clients felt different too. I do not really know why. I just felt comfortable in how I wanted to present myself and the type of adviser that I wanted to be. My natural instinct is to help out, go the extra mile and I found my niche working with older clients and their families. I became increasingly aware that clients were seeking me out. I also started to notice that the support I was providing reached beyond Financial Planning, in fact, in many cases, that was of secondary importance to them. Clients were valuing my time, my listening ear, my empathy and their families were finding it helpful to have someone that could facilitate the difficult parent/child discussions. Someone to open up the ‘what if’ conversations. The taboos. The type of conversations that we should all have, but in reality we are scared to.
An inevitable consequence of supporting those in Later Life is their passing which is tough for the family and equally so when you have worked with that client for 20+ years. You share the natural highs and lows of life and without a doubt my clients have shaped who I am and how I work with and support families both whilst my clients are alive and after they are gone.
I found that my approach and the relationships built and developed organically with the families, helped with this next difficult stage. It wasn’t awkward or uncomfortable. It was a natural transition. Death is inevitable for us all and over time I realised that my role had shifted. I was considered a key part of the family support network, helping to prepare and deal with life’s curve balls and often leading the next steps. I was a familiar and friendly face there to listen, support, facilitate the discussions and help navigate through the most difficult times.
I found this new and evolving role so rewarding and I recognised that many of my clients and their families valued it hugely, particularly during lockdown. I found myself thinking of ways I could keep in touch with those dear clients whose support network had been so abruptly impacted by COVID. I wanted to lift their spirits and found myself thinking how I could keep families connected. How could I make a difference to their lives? It gave me a real sense of purpose and belonging to think of small but significant gestures.
During that time I realised what my clients really ‘valued’ – it was my time, knowledge, support and experience - you don’t know what you don’t know and I found that there was a real demand for my way of working.
As a Later Life specialist I have worked with a great many families over the years and whilst every situation is different, there are commonalities and experiences to share. I would love to wave a magic wand and say that everything will be ok, but I can’t. However, being forewarned is forearmed and I see regularly how sharing knowledge and cementing understanding can be a powerful armour for everyone involved when venturing into the unknown terrain of declining health and funding care.
A new chapter
So, back to the start of 2022 and my wonderful boys. Both have recently worked through their GCSE choices and the inevitable conversations over the dinner table have taken place ‘What did you want to do when you left school, Mum?’ ‘What did you want to do, Dad?’. They are young adults about to start out on their own journeys.
So, over the past year I have found myself reflecting on why I hadn’t fulfilled my own youthful aspirations. In truth, I had no idea at the time what type of business I would like to run – it just felt like a good idea at the time! Now though I feel like I have come full circle. My personal journey has spanned 28 years during which time I have found my niche. This has enabled me to develop a bespoke service that gets me out of bed in the morning and provides the personal rewards that make me tick.
In a world where we encourage our next generation to ‘not be afraid of failure’ to ‘back yourself’ and ‘put in the hard work and the rest will follow’ . . . it was time for me to progress this idea to the bigger stage and most importantly - practise what I preach! I had decided. The regret of not ‘giving it a go’ suddenly felt a far scarier prospect than not trying at all.
When I announced my idea at the dinner table in May of this year, James and Matthew were delighted and have been avid supporters, actively involved – they have even put together some of my office furniture. Matthew said to me yesterday ‘Mum, I like the set up you have here, very professional’ which was praise indeed!
As I write this we are just a handful of weeks in and I won’t deny, the journey so far has been a Pandora’s box of emotions – there has been fear, disappointment, disillusionment and anxiety but there has also been the greatest outpouring of support, encouragement and kindness too which has brought with it a great sense of laughter, strength, empowerment and belief.
Why the name Bluebell?
Well, Bluebell denotes ‘kindness, support, nurture and caring’ which simply encapsulates in one word exactly what Bluebell Financial Management is all about. We also have the most beautiful Bluebell wood where we are based at Courtmoor Farm.
To find out more about Bluebell Financial Management and how we can help you and your family, please get in touch.