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Kaz Downing

Kaz Downing on Personable Financial Planning

By Kaz Downing

Chartered Financial Planner at Jigsaw Corporate Financial Management

With a familial style, influenced by nurtured beginnings in the finance sector working at one of the industry’s large corporates, Kaz Downing’s perspective on financial advice as a key enabler for happiness and fulfilment emphasizes the importance of sound financial management in achieving overall well-being.

Having spent her early career working as an Assistant Financial Accountant for the Paris and Luxembourg team at Skandia (now Quilter), Kaz moved into financial advice almost a decade ago, qualifying as an independent and Chartered Financial Planner.

Now, as Chartered Financial Planner at Jigsaw Corporate Financial Management, Kaz is proficient in balancing professionalism with personal service.

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You began your career working at a large finance corporate, what did you take away from the experience?

Quilter was amazing when I was there, even though they have that corporate feel they were really about their people. Their core values were making sure that people felt heard and that was such a nice thing to have in a corporate company. It taught me a valuable lesson that everyone is a person and not a number.

What’s the business set-up and services at Jigsaw Corporate Financial Management?

There are two directors and two advisers. We deal with everything from mortgages and life insurance to complex cases in pensions, inheritance, VCTs, and business relief.

Whatever stage you are in your life, you can still need some guidance and help. Everyone can need financial advice and I sometimes feel that gets a little bit lost.

What types of clients do you have and how do you support them?

My mainstream clients could be, for example, somebody in their 50s with multiple pension plans. They may have a senior corporate role, or run their own business, and they're starting to really think about their current & retirement plans.

You're always advised to accumulate throughout your life but then, when people get to a certain age, they need to think about how they’ve got to spend it and it feels alien. I help them with what they want from their money holistically, now and in the future.

I have a really nice relationship with my clients; it feels like a warm friendship. Not only do they need to trust me, but their families need to trust me as well, because when something does happen, a lot of the time the people who are left behind have no idea where to start – I help my client’s beneficiaries with the next steps so intergenerational planning is a big factor in what I do.

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How do you navigate the changing complexities of the financial landscape on behalf of your clients?

I have to be really on the ball. I like to speak to other financial advisors – we all work very differently and I love to connect with people in the same profession. I really enjoy speaking to other advisors to get their opinions. We challenge each other, and I enjoy it because I need to absorb that knowledge; I need to be at the top of my game at all times and I think it’s good to work together.

What are your current perceptions of the financial climate?

I work with many different fund managers, and I have various conversations about their market outlook and strategies. They differ in their opinions but it’s always insightful.

The past five years have been the most volatile I’ve had in the industry in terms of sensitivity to the markets. Markets and different sectors will always fluctuate but there is a lot of sensitivity at the moment, particularly with the different conflicts happening around the world that are on everyone’s minds.

Ethical/ESG is also gaining significant attention. It is developing into something more mainstream as people are more aware of what’s going on in the world now and they are more concerned about certain exposures, for example, not investing in fossil fuels or gambling.

"I really enjoy getting into the personal side of financial advice and helping people to realise what they want to do in their lives in the future."

Kaz Downing - Chartered Financial Planner at Jigsaw Corporate Financial Management

Are there common misconceptions about financial planning?

One thing I’m conscious about is that, as a financial advisor, it should not just be about performance. We should be there for clients throughout the year, not just speaking to them once.

Yes, we should be making sure that performance is doing well, but also that they are tax efficient, make any changes in line with any regulation, and ensuring that their assets & liabilities are meeting their current and future needs. If somebody goes through something like a divorce, then they can call me immediately knowing I am ready to help them. I want people to be able to speak to me as their trusted adviser who is ready to listen.

What would you recommend is something that everyone should do in their financial planning?

We’re taught to work and save, but when it comes to retirement people often don’t have any idea on when or what they would like to retire on. I really enjoy getting into the personal side of financial advice and helping people to realise what they want to do in their lives in the future.

I would urge people to think about what they want from their money and assets because life is for living!

What are your hopes and aspirations for the financial advice sector?

I would love to help new advisors in the profession in general.

It would be great for the sector not to have the pressure of targets and sales because advising should be about the client. I would like to see more advisors being there for the clients and the enjoyment of what they do rather than for selling and targets.

What do you enjoy doing when you’re not working?

My husband and I like to travel and explore. We absolutely love Australia, and we also love the Caribbean. I also like to play the piano – it’s therapeutic when life is so chaotic.

Who inspires you?

My dad is my absolute hero. He is 75 this year and he had three building companies. If I ever have a question, I will immediately call him. He will always give me honest advice. He’s really business-minded, and he just gets on with it. He’s got such a young attitude and I aspire to be like him because he’s lived life to the full.

What are you currently listening to, reading, or watching?

I’m a book reader. I’ve just finished A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara. It’s a really harrowing read, and it’s the biggest book I’ve ever read, but it’s amazing. A very intense read but worth it!