Sean McDermott is the founder and Director of SMC Financial Services. He has over 18 years’ experience in both banking and financial services. Sean has worked at large corporates as well as smaller, more personal boutique firms.
He is experienced and qualified in all areas of financial planning but specialises mostly in Pension transfers, Retirement Planning and Investment management.
Sean is qualified as a level 6 ‘chartered financial planner’ and also holds ‘Fellowship’ status which is the highest accreditation that can be received from the Chartered Insurance Institute and is only held by around 3000 advisers in total.
Let’s get to know him a bit better...
Morning Sean, what inspired you to setup SMC Financial?
I had never started out hoping for a career as an IFA but when I realised early on I was quite a natural salesperson within the financial services industry. The natural progression to make it a career rather than just a job was to progress to regulated advice.
I was always thinking there could be a better way to do things when I was employed and even self-employed under another companies branding. Setting up the company as an FCA Directly Authorised firm in January this year and also to qualify to ‘chartered and fellowship’ status were always my own personal goals which I am pleased to of now achieved.
Tell me a bit about your background, where did you grow up and what schools and Universities did you attend?
Well, I come from a very working-class background which involved me moving around quite a bit as a child. None the less, I grew up happy and don’t take anything for granted growing up. Its all been a part of what’s made me who I am today. I attended Chesterfield High School in Crosby then moved on to Hugh Baird and briefly University of Central Lancashire. I was never very academic at all in School so only ended up putting in the work once I realised the relevance for my career and had started to take things more seriously.
What does a typical day in the office for you at SMC entail?
For the last 3 years of being self-employed I have probably worked easily on average 60-70-hour weeks. This has certainly been a rollercoaster in getting to where we are now. I now make a point of taking some time back to work from home and spend more time with my children where I can. It's hard to switch off but I’m getting better.
A typical day when I do go in could look like:
- Arrive at the office for around 8:30-8:45 am, catch up on anything I’ve missed whilst away.
- Check my diary for the day and the following week to see how busy I am and if anything, in particular, needs my attention.
- I would then usually pass over any admin and client paperwork to our office manager to process or delegate out to our apprentice.
- Every other week, we have a team meeting or a management meeting as well as now trying to support the rest of the team with any exam study support they may be doing.
- I then only have a few hours in the office on average as most of my time is then spent out on the road dealing with new and existing clients or at seminars to keep my knowledge up to speed (this industry never stands still).
- I tend to also have evening appointments as this is when a lot of clients do prefer to be seen and would mean me getting home late.
What advice would you give to someone starting out in the Financial services industry?
The industry is now starting to improve its reputation due to a lot of changes that have come from the regulator that has slowly started to make a positive impact. It is being seen as a first career choice now for younger people. It can be a very rewarding career for anyone prepared to put the work in.
My advice would be to start your studying as soon as possible and be prepared to start at the bottom doing financial admin, then paraplanning, possibly mortgage advice and then onto full financial planning. You need to be prepared to be patient and also have the drive and ambition to work towards chartered status. It is hard enough to get a client to trust you with their life savings. You need to then have the technical knowledge to get it right first time.
Ok, it’s Friday evening, you’ve finished a hard-working week – what’s your go-to meal of choice?
Ooh, that’s hard as I’m very indecisive when it comes to food. Currently, this would be ‘Spitroast’ which is a rotisserie chicken place near to me as the food is ready stupidly quick when the kids are starving straight after work. It wipes the floor with Nando’s. Either that or a proper authentic Italian.
Outside of work, what are your passions and hobbies?
Growing up my main passions where Basketball and DJing. These both used to take up a huge part of my time, but do so less now that I have children and the business to run. Now the business is my passion as I am constantly trying to improve where possible. Although I qualified earlier in the year to ‘fellowship’ status I have recently sat a regulated supervision exam. This is to help me support my staff and grow my leadership knowledge.
What are your 3 favourite films, and/or albums?
Again this is a hard one due to my indecisiveness. Off the top of my mind I would probably go:
- Napoleon Dynamite
What’s your favourite place out of all the places you’ve travelled (assuming that you have travelled that is!)?
It would be a toss up between New York and Ibiza for very different reasons. There is still a lot of the world I’ve not yet seen. So I look forward to being able to travel once the kids get older.
If you were a wrestler what would be your entrance theme song?
Paul Simon – You can call me Al. (Very random I know but its an anthem that I’m well known for always trying to liven up a party).
Finally, the ultimate question... what’s your allegiance Red or Blue?
I’m not a big football fan at all but I’ve always been a red since a young child. Basketball was always more my thing growing up.