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MEET THE TEAM: MICHELLE FRANCIS

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In the latest Abacus Wealth Services staff profile, we speak to Practice Manager Michelle Francis about her career with the company, her pleasure at being part of a team which helps clients reach their “lightbulb moment” on their finances and her passions for music and theatre.
How long have you worked for Abacus Wealth Services and what are the main responsibilities in your role?
I joined in 2012 and work as the Practice Manager, which means I look after the staff with further responsibilities for administrative duties and interacting with some of our private clients.
What jobs did you have before you joined Abacus?

I have always worked in finance, having started out working for Nationwide in their mortgages department. For the last 20 years I have worked for financial services companies in the West Midlands, including the last nine years with Abacus. I have several qualifications including financial planning certificates.

What do you enjoy about working for Abacus?
For me, the most enjoyable parts of the role are around the interaction and contact with clients. It is satisfying to be able to solve people’s problems and help them come to a resolution. I am not a financial adviser, but I am part of the process which can help people to get to the place where they want to be. It amazes me that some people do not think about their finances until they sit down with a financial adviser. To see people have a “lightbulb moment” about their options is extremely rewarding.
How has the COVID-19 pandemic impacted your work?
When we first went into the national lockdown and home working was introduced, I was keen to maintain as much continuity with our team as possible. It was important to me to try to carry on as if we were still operating in the office. Every day I took the time to call everybody to ask how they were doing, just as I would make time to speak to everyone in the office. It was not just to check on their welfare given the new ways of working but it was to keep some of the small interactions going. I was not familiar with video calls on platforms like Zoom or Teams but they have become part of the everyday now. It still does not feel fully normal, but we have tried to keep the working day as normal as possible.
What energises you in your role at Abacus?
I enjoy being the point of contact for our bigger clients, who know they can come to me directly because of the strong relationships we have established. Our clients know that at Abacus, our team are more than just advisers but a whole group of people behind them who can provide support, which is fantastic.
What can be the most challenging parts of the job? How do you address these challenges?
The most challenging part of the job is probably having to address issues our clients which feel to them like they are out of their control. It is rewarding to help them resolve these issues. Some of the most difficult ones can be related to deaths, when clients can feel at their most vulnerable. It means a lot to be able to help people to put things right as they move forward.
What are your interests outside of work?
I love travelling and going to the theatre, both of which have been put on hold due to Covid. I love opera and musicals, so much so that I would have loved to have worked in musical theatre. My favourite musical is Les Misérables and I regularly go to the Birmingham Hippodrome to see performances by the likes of the Welsh National Opera. I admire the strength of opera singers’ voices so it would be a dream to see live performances in La Scala opera house in Milan, Italy, or the Sydney Opera House.