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An Insight into the Financial Services Sector in Aberdeen

10 Dec 2018
Nicky Johnston



Johnston Carmichael Wealth is a part of Johnston Carmichael - Scotland’s largest firm of independent Chartered Accountants and Business Advisers. Headed by Craig Hendry, Managing Director of JCW who is based in Aberdeen, the team of experienced financial planners provide a complete service to their clients by delivering expert guidance on their investment decisions to help them protect and grow their assets.

To get a deeper insight into the growing financial services sector in Aberdeen, we chatted to Craig Hendry to get his opinion on a range of topics - from changes in the financial services profession to the importance of company culture at JCW.

Financial Services Recruitment in Aberdeen

Historically, it has been a struggle to retain people in Aberdeen’s financial services sector because of the intense competition within the oil and gas sector, but over the years Johnston Carmichael has established a strong team in Aberdeen. Our strategy is to look for people who have the right skill set, recruit them at different locations, and utilise their skills to deliver quality service and grow the business.

The most important thing we have done in Aberdeen is bring people together and build an effective team this includes recruiting millennials and graduate talent. Having a team culture and team ethos is very important to JCW and is key to retention of staff. As a result, there has been a shift in the dynamics of JCW from being client-centric to team-centric. This reflects in the employee and engagement surveys, the results from which clearly show that JCW is delivering on its promises to the employees and looking after them.

The importance of the right culture to JCW

Regardless of the industry, being a good place to work is a pre-requisite for every candidate looking to join a firm. Having a work-life balance is in high demand and is often a high priority for employees, but there are also certain people who want to put in the hours to work more - at JCW Aberdeen opportunities are given to people according to their needs and expectations. Every employee’s area of interest and personal development is highly prioritised and is at the heart of the business in Aberdeen.

JCW also believes that a company's CSR strategy is a significant factor when today's top talent is choosing where to work. Millennials especially are seeking out employers who focus on three crucial elements; people, society/environment and revenue.

Therefore, CSR is a big part of the company culture across Johnston Carmichael as we believe that it is about more than raising funds for charity. It involves everything from socialising with colleagues, offering pro bono work and getting involved with community groups, to telling young people about career opportunities, being aware of the impact of the business on the environment, or giving up some of their free time to help others. 

We have a network of CSR representatives across 11 offices which is supported by a committee of volunteers led by a Head of CSR. As a result of their CSR efforts, Johnston Carmichael has raised over £450,000 for charitable causes over the last decade.

Johnston Carmichael has made a key contribution as sponsors of Kiltwalk for two years by raising funds for each event and making a considerable impact.

Changes in the Financial Services Profession

Over the years there have been changes in the retail distribution review which means that most accountancy and finance firms are now charging fees for the work that they do, making it an advisory profession as opposed to the traditional sales profession. Within financial planning, historically the conventional route for individuals was to get into admin, paraplanning and then they would eventually become an advisor. Now there is a plethora of opportunities available.  People can choose to enter the sector through various channels, such as marketing, technical, compliance, client care and many more. There are also far more roles for individuals to dive into - meaning there is a variety of opportunities for individuals to join a firm like JCW.

Starting a career in Financial Services

At JCW, a lot of emphasis is laid on recruiting young, talented and ambitious individuals to give them a platform for jumpstarting their career in financial services. Aspiring individuals can take their first step on the career ladder by joining the Futures Programme whereby they can choose to work for JCW right after school while simultaneously studying and learning, as an alternative to going to university. There are also opportunities for new university graduates looking for roles within the profession - they are put on the same program but a little bit further down the line. JCW also offers summer internship for students looking to gain practical experience while at university. In many cases, successful interns are offered a training contract upon successful completion of their studies.

Progressing your career in Financial Services

There are two ways of progressing your career in financial services. One is face to face in a role as a financial planner dealing with clients. The second is progressing your career as a technical specialist advisor or paraplanner, as there is a great demand for people offering technical specialist advice in the background. In the past the trend has been to be able to do both, but now there is more focus on specializing in a particular area. More and more opportunities are cropping up in the financial services sector and JCW continues to provide support to enable people to tap into these opportunities.


Nicky Johnston
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