Emery Little news

Meet the experts: Michael Gibbins, Certified Financial Planner

By Michael Gibbins

Posted 7th Mar 2021

Reading Time: 4 Minutes

My degree was a BSc in Banking and Financial Planning, although I’m not sure as a 17 year-old I really had much concept of financial planning as an industry, as distinct from financial advisors or other finance roles. I just thought it sounded more interesting than a degree focusing purely on numbers.

I like numbers – you can’t argue with a number! But I couldn’t be looking at spreadsheets all day.

Some of my peers were opting for Accountancy with the aim of making a lot of money, but I thought Planning sounded more interesting; a little different.

One of my lecturers was a Financial Planner; she met Andy [Little, Emery Little’s Founding Director] on a course and mentioned to him that she had a student who could really benefit from some experience. Andy agreed to take me on for some work experience over the summer and I carried on during my final year fitting work at Emery Little around my university classes. And I basically never left!

I began as an administrative assistant, covering meetings, taking notes and doing meeting follow-up, that sort of thing. Once I’d graduated in 2016 the natural step was to take on more of a full-time role, and to take on more responsibility, writing reports and so on. I was then made Andy’s paraplanner, supporting him on most of his clients – with help from the rest of the team.

I like paraplanning because of the control you can have over your work – it’s not merely reactive, you can plan within structures, and engineer your own path a bit and how you’re going to get your work done. I particularly liked being Andy’s paraplanner because of all the contact it gave me with clients; I felt very involved, even as a relatively inexperienced beginner.

Now I’m transitioning to fully-fledged Planner; managing the entire client process, from preparing and conducting reviews and running meetings, to post-meeting work and paraplanning work.

I love working with clients because I like how everybody’s really different. What’s important to me is not necessarily what’s going to be important to you. I like people’s different characters, and how everyone see things differently. You really do get an insight into different lives, objectives and priorities that you might not otherwise ever getThat’s what I love about financial planning – it gives you a real appreciation of the variety and the difference that’s out there. You don’t get that from a spreadsheet.

It’s also a very privileged position. You are dealing with very private aspects of people’s lives, and conversations can get very personal. In normal life you wouldn’t ask people the intimate details of their health, or how much they own – that’s really private. So I appreciate the trust people are placing in me.

I enjoy reading – again I think it’s my fascination with seeing things from different perspectives. We’ve just started a bit of a book club at Emery Little – we’re only on our second book but I’m enjoying discussing the different things we pick up from the same book. We’ve read The Psychology of Money by Morgan Housel, and Beyond the 4% Rule by Abraham Okusanya. I’ve got quite into listening to audio books, but often I prefer a proper print book so that I can concentrate fully on it, and take notes.  There’s something about a print edition for me that makes me feel I have to read it all and read it properly.

In my downtime I enjoy meeting friends at the pub, much like anyone else! I enjoy cycling too – though I’m not a fully kitted-out man in Lycra! I’m more of a “leisure cyclist”; I like getting out at weekends and exploring the local area – you can get much further by bike than running, and you’re less reliant on your own power. I’m a big football fan and a Man United supporter so watching them is a big part of my weekend. I enjoy travelling too. I’m looking forward to doing more city breaks – in 2019 I went to Amsterdam and New York, the year before that I was in China. My friends and I make it interesting deciding where to go by picking suggested destinations at random.