It’s always a pleasure to revisit one of our PP cover stars to find out where they are now. This issue Rob Kingsbury talked again to Sarika Dhanjal, now head of Advice Quality at Progeny.
When I spoke to Sarika Dhanjal in summer 2018, she was Paraplanning Team Manager at the advice network Tenet. At the time her role was running the team but also promoting it to the advisers using the network as well as outside of the business, as an outsourced paraplanning operation.
What came across from our first meeting was how very detailed and process driven she was, with a natural tenacity to find better ways of working and bringing greater efficiency into the process and the business. As she says: “I became known as the person to turn to if a problem needed sorting.”
It was no surprise to find, therefore, that soon after we spoke her talents were recognised, first with a move to operations manager and then, in September 2020, as head of Training and Mentoring at Tenet.
“There is no doubt that being process driven and wanting to find better ways of working has helped me in my career, because people have brought me in to work on projects and other tasks,” she says. “I’ve dealt with everything from project management, through marketing, training, business support to revising processes and establishing templates. The latter was a small thing comparatively speaking but it helped save the company money.”
One initiative she implemented when head of Training and Mentoring at Tenet, was to reduce the need for long in-person induction training, instigating instead a modular, digital induction programme with learning pathways. “That way we could match the technical knowledge and competency levels of the inductees with the modules they needed to take, to bring them up to speed on what we needed them to know. The modules were interactive and we tested everyone throughout the modules, with a trainer on hand if they needed further help. This enabled us to focus training where it was truly needed; also the training and competency supervisor could see immediately what additional resource might help any one individual.”
The on-demand training modules , were not just for inductees. Anyone who felt they needed to brush up on a technical area, for example,could do so, becauseitoffered24/7 access, at a time convenient to them. This technical area was initially created through the events programme with the support of providers. “The idea was that they didn’t have to wait to see a T&C supervisor for guidance and it helped people take responsibility for their own learning,” Sarika says.
In July 2021, Sarika was offered the opportunity to join Progeny Group as head of Training and Competency, including responsibility for the induction programme and developing Progeny’s Adviser Academy.
Progeny Group offers a suite of professional services including independent financial planning, investment management, tax services, property, HR and legal counsel. Sarika explains. “As a client you can come
in the door, tell your story once, say to your financial planner, and then have access
to expertise for tax, legal, investment,
pretty much everything you could need. With everything in house, it helps avoid miscommunication, data is shared centrally and it’s a better client experience. We can look after everything for them.”
The Adviser Academy is Progeny’s initiative to bring on young, talented individuals, in the main internally, who are already Level 4 but want to extend their learning pathway and become financial advisers. “We’re looking at, say, a wealth administrator who wants to progress. We will have a one-to-one with them to ascertain what they want from their career, then we will help them with taking their exams and progressing to trainee paraplanner and paraplanner, and then they can join the Academy to become a financial adviser.”
As the compliance area of Progeny expanded in 2021, under which sat the head of Training & Competence role, Sarika was given wider responsibilities and in March 2022, the role evolved to become head of Advice Quality at Progeny.
“Now I have T&C, the Academy and file checking within my remit. My area is the first line of defence in compliance; we are looking at the processes, the MI and spotting issues we may need to address.”
The other areas in the division are Policy and Compliance, and Audit and Risk. “With this three-pronged approach, we have a defined and efficient structure.”
As well as tackling her expanded role at Progeny, Sarika believes more should be done to raise the profile of financial planning as a profession. To this end, she has been into schools to talk about financial planning and what it offers school leavers, and how there are options other than going to university. “I’m trying to open up students eyes to what else is out there.”
She is working also with the committee at her local Sikh temple, to show how women in particular, can get into financial services as a career.