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A drive for excellence and high standards...

 

Why did you decide to pursue a career in financial services?

I decided I wanted to work in international financial services during my second year of university. While looking at options for placement years, I became interested more and more in the financial profession, it's role in helping people and its role in the global economy. Unfortunately, at that time, there were no placements abroad available, which limited my immediate options. 

What were your plans after graduating from university?

After graduating, I wanted to gain international work experience and immerse myself in a different cultural and professional environment. My plan was to work abroad for 12-18 months to broaden my horizons and develop a global perspective on financial services. I enrolled in a "graduate scheme" at a well-known Independent Financial Adviser (IFA) in Dubai. However, I soon realised that the role and the organization’s ethos did not align with my personal morals and long-term career goals.

How did you find your way to AES?

My journey to AES was shaped by a combination of financial challenges, the impact of COVID-19, and a rigorous job search.  I eventually discovered AES through a recommendation from a friend of a friend. Intrigued by the firm's reputation and values, I applied for a Paraplanner (Associate) role. This opportunity seemed like a perfect fit, allowing me to leverage my skills and gain further experience in financial planning.

What were your initial experiences at AES?

In my first year at AES, I was lucky enough to be surrounded by a team of highly experienced professionals and learned a great deal. I immersed myself in the company’s culture and took on the challenge of furthering my education. Over the first 14 months, I completed seven professional exams, including my CII Diploma in Regulated Financial Planning. It was intense but incredibly rewarding, as it laid a strong foundation for my future career growth.

How did your role evolve at AES?

My role at AES evolved significantly over time. After two years, I was promoted to a client-facing Financial Planner (Senior Associate). This was because of my accumulated technical knowledge from the exams and the practical experience I gained through my paraplanning duties, and by shadowing senior colleagues. As a Senior Associate, I managed relationships with over 50 families, strengthening client relationships. I became familiar with cashflow planning, which became a critical part of my role.

What was your next career milestone at AES?

Just over 18 months after becoming a Senior Associate, I was promoted to Associate Director. This promotion was a recognition of my high performance, dedication, and passion for delivering outstanding client outcomes. In this new role, I'm excited to continue contributing to the firm's success and take on the additional responsibility of mentoring the next generation of financial planners at AES.

What challenges have you faced on a personal level during your time in Dubai?

Despite my professional progress, my journey in Dubai has been marked by several personal challenges. The past five years have been a rollercoaster! Health issues, the emotional toll of being far from family and friends in the UK, and the hurdles of establishing independence at a young age were all big challenges. My first year as an expat taught me invaluable lessons in resilience and the importance of long-term planning and well-being. These experiences were crucial in helping me find stability and build a structured life at AES.

How do you view your decision to move to Dubai?

Moving to Dubai has been one of the best decisions I've ever made. The city has provided me with amazing professional opportunities and personal growth experiences. I've made lifelong friends and achieved a comfortable standard of living that allows me to balance my career ambitions with my passion for fitness. 

Do you have any personal interests or goals?

I've developed a deep passion for powerlifting, which has become a large part of my life. I've competed at an amateur level twice and have set an ambitious goal of achieving a powerlifting total of 700kg in the next few years. 

How do you spend your time off?

Living away from home has taught me the immense value of quality time with loved ones. Whenever I have time off, I like spending it with my family and friends. I particularly enjoy returning to London during the Christmas holidays and taking holidays in Europe during the summer. These trips provide a perfect balance, allowing me to reconnect with my roots and enjoy new experiences.

 

Charles is an Associate Director at AES. Connect with him on LinkedIn here

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