Jun 3, 2023 | Features, Lifestyle

My story

Written by Gemma Darcy
Posted in, Features | Lifestyle.

Why family values are my personal motivator to give clients the best possible service.

Expect the unexpected

It was the unplanned birth of my son, Josh, at the age of 18 that changed my life forever. The relationship with my partner had broken down, but fortunately my Mum stepped in, initially supporting me both financially and emotionally and helped me to cope with this abrupt change to my life direction. This enabled me to return to college, while Josh was happily ensconced at nursery, in order to complete my education.

Image of Gemma with Josh as a baby

Combining career with motherhood

By 2004, at the age of 23, I’d taken the first step of my career joining Northern Rock as a trainee mortgage adviser. My choice of a career in financial services stemmed from a time when I’d helped a friend out of chronic debt by reviewing his credit cards and loans – all with really high interest rates. I’d worked out a way for him to consolidate everything onto one loan, saving a significant amount of interest payments. I really enjoyed the process and it gave me a great boost to think I’d turned it around. He still had the debt, but now it would be paid off and be far more manageable. And so, at the age of 20, the path which led me to begin my journey into the world of finance was set.

Bringing up Josh as a single mum, while financially supporting us both, wasn’t easy. He was diagnosed with the neurodevelopment disorder ADHD in primary school, which meant managing his behaviour was challenging to say the least. Josh’s inability to focus, alongside occasional bizarre, impulsive behaviour, meant attracting unwanted attention from those who made me self-conscious about the fact I was such a young mum.

I must admit to feeling paranoid at times, believing people were constantly judging me for what I perceived to be thought of as an irresponsible young mum. This gave me the determination to succeed and provide Josh, not just with a safe, loving home, but also a secure financial future. And my family and friends were my rock – it meant I rarely felt alone.

My career notched up a gear when I joined RBS as a Financial Planning Manager in 2006, where I received excellent training and career support, while gaining experience across all areas of wealth management.

An invitation

In 2011, I decided to gain more specialist knowledge and joined Wesleyan, initially offering comprehensive financial advice for lawyers, including their personal and business planning. Later I added to my specialisms by providing advice to doctors working within the NHS and in private practice. I also advised at Towry and Prudential, before being invited to join St. James’s Place. I was delighted; it was exactly what I needed to make the leap and in April 2018, founded Darcy Financial Planning as a Partner Practice of St. James’s Place.

St.James's Place logo
An image of Gemma's first house

My first house purchase

After several years spent studying in my own time – taking exams while simultaneously gaining hands on experience across all areas of wealth management – I was thrilled to be awarded chartered status in 2019. After so many years of head down working, studying and caring for Josh, you can’t imagine the sense of pride and achievement I felt when I was able to move out of our flat and buy my first detached house in Manchester for me and for Josh.

Moving on

I moved to beautiful Nantwich in September 2020, while continuing to work across the North West and beyond, with Josh now living in his own flat nearby and I’m so proud of the man he has become. 

Josh began his on-the-job-training, while gaining experience as an Assistant Carer at a local private care home. And – I’m delighted to say – he’s saving for his first home, naturally under the guidance of his personal financial adviser.’

Image of Gemma and her siblings

The Big Four O

By 2021, I’d hit the grand age of 40 – and Josh 22 – with the financial goals I set for myself all those years ago now achieved. Josh and I have come a long way together, with much of the journey at times difficult and challenging (honestly, I could write a book!). However, what I’ve gained form the experience has been extremely beneficial; it’s shown me just how people’s lives can take them down a vastly different route to the one they envisaged, but that it’s not the end of the world.

We all work hard to provide for our families; to ensure they’re offered the life chances they deserve, or to share with our partners the lifestyle we imagine enjoying together. However, it’s so easy to get caught up in the here and now, forgetting to plan for the unimaginable happening to them rather than everyone else.

The next chapter

When I created my ‘Next 10 Years’ financial plan in 2021, we were emerging from the pandemic and feeling positive about the future. However, like many, the gloomy economic forecast meant I’d needed to heed my own advice and revisit my budget to ensure it reflected a realistic approach to securing my financial future. The forecast of increased energy costs alone meant I needed to take drastic action: if I wanted to maintain my work life balance, something had to give.

I’d spotted a well-known house builder was promoting their new, energy efficient homes locally and went along to find out more. I made the momentous decision to sell my lovely detached house, which needed updating, and buy one of their smaller, semi-detached properties. With an average saving of up to £2,600* a year on energy bills, it would be so much cheaper to run.

*Data taken from the House Builders Federation report, October 2022

Image of Gemma's new garden

Image of Darcy Financial Planning Office

Darcy Financial Planning’s first office

This year we celebrated five years of Darcy Financial Planning by rebranding and the opening of our small office in Princes Court, Nantwich. This helps to separate work from home and also means we can work together in one space.

My journey so far

Having experienced my journey so far, I love that I can empathise and relate one hundred percent to what my clients are going through; I derive so much pleasure helping them find solutions that work for them so they can look positively into the future.

And me personally? Well naturally each year I review my financial goals along with my budget, but this time with built in flexibility to ensure I enjoy a work life balance. More often than not, this now gives me space to breathe, to do the things I love, and to spend time with my family and friends.

Related Articles

Related

Why succession planning is so important for businesses

A key factor when you create a thriving business is what happens when you retire or semi-retire? This is a recurring topic for anyone wanting to understand what needs to be put in place for business succession planning. Although Helen has quite a few years to go, here she explains the various options open to her when the time comes.

read more

Retirement incomes forced to stretch further

Almost one million UK families will have multiple generations in retirement at the same time within the next 10 years, a new study1 by St. James’s Place reveals. As a result, retirement income is expected to stretch across multiple generations, causing many...

read more