Spotlight on Emma Sterland

Emma Sterland, Financial Planning Partner and team leader from our London office, was shortlisted in the Team Leader of the Year category from more than 800 entries 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 Emma’s career and achievements.

Tell us more about how you started your financial planning career

I started working in the industry when I was 18 as an assistant to a senior private banker. I loved the job, mostly due to the fact that all clients were different and you could help them and their families in so many ways. 

After working for another large private bank, in 2012 I made the move to Bestinvest, initially as a director. I wanted to move from a big corporation to a smaller firm to be able to offer a more personalised service. 

Unlike some of my peers, I did not attend university. Instead, I promised myself that once I found the career that I wanted to stay in, I would take the necessary further qualifications in order to go as far as I could. Today, I’m a Fellow of the CII and after returning from maternity leave for the second time last year, I passed the STEP Financial Service paper with distinction.

‘I promised myself that once I found the career that I wanted to stay in, I would take the necessary further qualifications in order to go as far as I could.’

What does your role as a team leader involve?

I’m a Financial Planning Partner as well as a team leader, so my role is extremely fast-paced and varied — it certainly keeps me on my toes! On a day-to-day basis, I look after my existing clients, meet with potential new clients and run my team.  My team consists of six financial planners, four paraplanners and four support staff. 

While I’m passionate about giving great advice to clients and their families, I am keen to do this with a sensible work/life balance. I have two young children so this is a priority for me, but I also feel very strongly that as a senior person in the business I should set this as an example.  This balance means different things to different people, but I feel it encourages the right culture amongst my team.

You have achieved an awful lot in your career in the financial services industry, but which achievement are your proudest of?

It would be difficult to narrow it down to just one, so I’m going to pick two instead.

One element of my career that I am most proud of is being a mentor to and champion of other women within the industry. I am passionate about sharing information on how I approached my maternity leave and maintain a work and family life balance — women should not be forced to make the choice between one or the other. This has led to a number of colleagues approaching me in confidence early in their pregnancies to ask for my advice. I always feel a massive sense of achievement knowing that they have trusted me with this information and that I can help them.

My second biggest achievement came about when I returned to work following maternity leave in March 2017. Following the purchase of Towry by Tilney Bestinvest (now Tilney), in my role as a team leader, I successfully united individuals from different business and backgrounds to work together as a group. My focus was on engaging the team, understanding them as individuals and allowing people to play to their strengths to feel empowered. Given some of the positive feedback the team has received, I believe I have done successfully.

‘I am passionate about sharing information on how I approached my maternity leave and maintain a work and family life balance.’

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

Be confident. Put yourself forward for roles that you are interested in even if you don’t have all the qualifications or skills required. If you put your hat into the ring and don’t get it, you can at the very least establish a plan on how you will next time. On the other hand, if you do get the job, with enough effort and dedication, you can often acquire the missing skills quicker than you might think.

Find yourself a successful mentor who is available to help you. Their support isn’t limited to the start of your career – it runs throughout it.

Most importantly, be yourself and enjoy it!

How we can help

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