“Instead of spending time with the kids, I'd be sitting in traffic.”
What work were you doing previously?
I was a professional golfer and instructor.
What are you doing now?
I'm now an associate partner and owner of Richard Tidy & Partners Wealth Management Ltd, working as a financial adviser.
Why did you change?
I'd always dreamt of playing professional golf and spent many years pursuing this ambition.
When I realised that this was no longer viable, I moved into coaching golf for guests at a major hotel chain. I later went on to manage the golf provision for the hotel group, looking after the commercial side of the business.
The role had a host of benefits but involved frequent travel and time away from home. I was working at these beautiful venues, but was feeling exhausted and honestly fed up with the lifestyle of working in hospitality.
I had young children and I was missing out. Instead of spending time with the kids, I'd be sitting on a motorway in traffic.
I was also beginning to think longer term. Did I want to be doing this kind of job in 10-15 years’ time?
How did you choose your new career?
A chance meeting on the green with former golf friend, Paolo Payne, led me down a very different path.
I told Paolo about my predicament and he said, half in jest, ‘why don’t you think about financial advice? You're great with people, you’re self-motivated, you’re well connected… I think you’d be brilliant’.
It got me thinking.
Are you happy with the change?
It’s one of the best decisions I've ever made.
What do you miss and what don't you miss?
I miss getting so much time on the green, but thankfully this is still something I frequently get to do as a financial adviser.
How did you go about making the shift?
I joined the St. James’s Place Financial Adviser Academy.
It was hard at times, there's no denying that. But seven months later I'd qualified and registered myself as a sole trader – a self-employed financial adviser under the St. James’s Place partner practice.
I’ll never forget those first few days. Where would my clients come from? I'd always envisaged setting up on my own and knew it would be a challenge.
So, I did what I do best. I took my laptop down to the golf club, I set up at a table and started talking to people.
How did you handle your finances to make your change possible?
It was tough as the main earner in the family, but there was support from St James' Place and I had enough to make the six-month transition.
What was the most difficult thing about changing?
It being such a drastic transition was tough.
Before making the shift, I discussed it with my wife. She wasn’t keen to start with – I was the main earner in the family and it would be a risk to give up a good job and train from scratch for another. Also, I had no experience in financial advice.
But we felt it was a risk worth taking.
What do you wish you'd done differently?
Nothing, I'm glad I took a punt on my future.
What help did you get?
The Academy prepared me well for this life.
I had some phenomenal support. I was lucky to have the guidance of a St. James’s Place mentor. It turns out I'd taught him golf earlier in my career.
We'd come full circle – it’s a relationship that has continued and we are still working together today.
What have you learnt in the process?
That relationships sit at the heart of life as a financial adviser.
This is something I'd always been good at – getting to know people, listening to them, building trust. I'd always been very client-focused, whether this was on the golf course, in the office or now advising people in their homes. It’s the same skill.
While the connections between professional sport, coaching and becoming a financial adviser may not be obvious, there was a good deal of overlap in the skills and attributes I needed for each.
What would you advise others to do in the same situation?
If you can make the change, to study and to work hard at building a business, I say go for it.
It’s the best thing I’ve ever done.
There are some fantastic rewards.
Thanks to our friends at St. James's Place for this story. To find out more about the Academy, visit www.sjp.co.uk/academy.
Also, find out more about St. James's Place Academy in our Retraining Directory.
What lessons could you take from Richard's story to use in your own career change? Let us know in the comments below.