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MEET THE TEAM: SHARON KISZKA

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For the latest Abacus Wealth Services staff profile, we speak to administration manager Sharon Kiszka about her role within the company, the professional satisfaction she receives from helping clients and her busy family life away from work.
How long have you worked for Abacus Wealth Services and what are the main responsibilities in your role?
I joined in 2017 and work as the administration manager, which means I look after the admin team, processing new business for clients and dealing with client enquiries. We provide the link between the clients and the advisers. With new business enquiries, we handle the requests for information from their existing providers, if they have investments held elsewhere.
What is your approach to dealing with Abacus clients?
We treat every client as an individual who is entitled to the best level of service. We understand the importance they place upon their finances so we ensure they are treated with courtesy and confidentiality every time. Money is a private subject so even though we have clients with different levels of investment, the level of service we provide is the same.
What jobs did you have before you joined Abacus?
I started out working in financial services in 1996, working with large brands in the West Midlands where I was responsible for large teams before going on to work for an independent firm of financial advisers as a practice manager. Having achieved financial planning certificates along the way I have seen how the sector has changed. I am currently doing my accreditation courses for St. James’s Place Wealth Management plc.
What do you enjoy about working for Abacus?
There is a lot of compliance to follow but we understand the need as we are here to help people grasp their financial options. People often do not realise how much they need financial security until it becomes urgent. Whatever their situation, it is pleasing to know you have done a good job for someone who needed help. There are some clients who really do not know their options until they get advice. We have some lovely clients who we have built strong relationships with, as the admin team become trusted contacts and the link with the advisers.
What is the best bit of advice you would give somebody starting at Abacus?
Anyone working with our business soon finds that you need to be adaptable. Financial services can change in a day so you must embrace that change. The more resistant you are to change, the tougher it can be so you need to adapt quickly and regularly.
What is a typical day like?
It does not matter how much you plan, there is something different every day. We spend a lot of time planning for client investment valuations and preparing the documentation. There are letters to be produced and changes to information that need to be made before they can go out. If there are new business accounts to be set up, we ensure they are processed. Overall, we work quickly and efficiently, which is important in this role.
What are your interests outside of work?
I was a Royal Navy wife for 27 years before my husband Nathan retired from the Armed Forces. He bought a brewery and our lives have changed dramatically as he had been away from home for long stints. We spend more time together but working in a business which is based around the hospitality sector means he is generally at work when clients are enjoying themselves, which can be long hours. The Covid-19 pandemic caused big problems but they switched to home delivery which kept them going. We have two children together and love travelling together, especially to warm climes, with the Maldives, Hawaii and the Bahamas high up on the list of places we would love to visit
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MEET THE TEAM: TIM CUTLER

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The latest Abacus Wealth Services staff profile features support manager to the advisors, Tim Cutler. We find out about his work supporting clients and the Abacus advisers, the ways he keeps up to date with changes in financial services and his “Nutty Boy” musical life outside work.
How long have you worked for Abacus Wealth Services and what are the main responsibilities in your role?
I joined in October 2015 and work as the support manager to the advisors, which means I access the advice and supporting information presented to clients by our advisers. My responsibilities include paraplanning, which involves behind-the-scenes research and analysis for clients including preparing financial reports. I report on their existing provisions and the options available from St. James’s Place Wealth Management plc and make sure we fulfil the ever-changing compliance requirements.
What jobs did you have before you joined Abacus?
I started out in financial services in 1989, working with large brands in the West Midlands region. I set up as an independent financial adviser in 2000 and ran my own business until I moved to Abacus in 2015. This background means I have a lot of technical knowledge and experience to ensure our client focus is maintained, especially in specialist areas.
What do you enjoy about working for Abacus?
Abacus have a great all-round team. I love the attention to detail and the focus on working with each client. I love it when we put something right, when a client has not been advised correctly and they have come to us for help, it is a very satisfying feeling. It is important that Abacus advise people in a way they understand, making certain that the solution offered meets with their requirements. I love dealing with clients, researching on their behalf and learning for myself about the changes to solutions and any legislation, so this information can be passed on to our clients.
What is the best bit of advice you would give somebody starting at Abacus?

Be prepared for a steep learning curve that will continue throughout your career. We all learn something new every week. I had been an adviser in the industry for more than 20 years before I came to Abacus, yet when I joined I quickly realised there was so much I needed to learn. Abacus can assist in all financial planning areas from the person starting out, to holistic planning for the most complex financial situation. The industry is highly regulated and we are expected to demonstrate professionalism and understanding, through every interaction with clients.

What is a typical day like?
My role is very varied, but it generally involves advising colleagues and getting information on a client’s whole financial position. We consider the options from a technical point of view and demonstrate how each solution impacts each client. This could be examining and comparing the opportunities available for estate protection, pensions and investment planning and the impact on personal and corporate taxation. The due diligence conducted on behalf of our clients is important and it needs to be thorough.
What are your interests outside of work?

I have played in bands since the age of 19 and one of my current projects involves playing keyboards for a Madness covers band called Prone 2 Madness. I love playing music, so it is great that we are considered to be one of the best Madness cover acts around, which means we get plenty of regular bookings. After Covid-19 caused so many cancellations we are looking forward to playing regularly again.

Tell us something nobody would know about you?
At the age of 10, my younger brother and I were selected to appear in a film promoting the opportunity for people to relocate from Birmingham to Redditch, along with our aunt. It was a great experience to be filmed for the day and it was shown in places like the Bull Ring to encourage visitors to consider out of town living. I have played in front of a packed Birmingham Town Hall, which was a prestigious opportunity. At school I was told by my music teacher that I would never be any good at Music, so it is great to still be playing for audiences all these years later, even though I am now a granddad. I am passionate about getting things right in my personal and professional life, which may be worlds apart, but I continue to enjoy the challenges presented by both.