Biography: Janet Barlow

By Chancellor

For our latest company update, we asked one of our paraplanners, and our first ever employee, Janet Barlow, to describe her journey working in financial services.

Janet is a treasured member of our team who helped build the business from scratch, and has been a huge part of making our company what it is today.

Read on to find out about Janet’s journey through life, and how she found her way to our door here at Chancellor.


Janet Barlow’s biography

Most people drift into financial services, but I went about things a bit differently. For those of you who know me, there won’t be any surprises there!


My background, school life, and aspirations

I grew up in Lancashire with my sister and my parents, who taught me from the beginning that you had to work hard to get anywhere.

My dad was an engineer and worked long hours, and my mum worked part-time as a dinner lady, fitting in her work around looking after me and my sister.

School went by in a flash. During the earlier days at primary school, the last thing I wanted was to be learning indoors. I remember one of my teachers saying I could be a good clairvoyant, as my head was always in the clouds! In truth, I was bored, and wanted to be outdoors getting up to mischief.

Luckily, by the time high school came around, I’d grown up a bit, and was ready to knuckle down. I got decent grades, but I had no aspirations of what I wanted to be, or what direction to go in.


My first experiences of work, and learning the value of money

One of the key phrases in our house was, “Janet, money doesn’t grow on trees,” along with many others I probably can’t mention here!

I appreciated the pocket money I got, but I also found part-time jobs doing all kinds of things, such as paper rounds, and selling cosmetic products for Avon. When I could drive, I hosted Body Shop “parties”, also selling cosmetics. I worked at a couple of local pubs too.

I definitely kept busy, and soon had quite a substantial stash of cash hidden away. It was a well-known joke in the family that I could always put my hand on a few notes here and there.

After school, I decided to gain more work experience, and started on an apprenticeship scheme. I was partly working towards a national vocational qualification (NVQ), while simultaneously gaining experience within a firm of solicitors, with a goal to achieve both a qualification and a full-time job.

I managed to do both, and began working at the reception desk greeting clients. The firm also had an agency with a building society, so I got involved with day-to-day transactions too. I got to meet people from all walks of life, and enjoyed having the chance to talk to them and expand my knowledge.

I stayed at that firm for just over four years. Part way through my time there, I began attending night school, to pick up another qualification in business technology. I knew I needed more experience with IT systems, and the opportunity to advance just wasn’t available at work.


How I found my way into the financial services industry

By chance, I went for an interview at an IFA practice, and something clicked. The opportunity to learn, study, and progress within a company, with the chance to help people at the same time, was all I wanted.

I wasn’t offered that particular job, but felt inspired, and began researching the qualifications I would need to start a career within financial services. I bought the materials and started to study on my own.

There were so many abbreviations, so many phrases to get my head around – I thought it would be helpful to learn on the job in a real firm, so I could more easily take in the information.

I managed to get myself two interviews at different firms, and was amazed that I was offered both positions!

I even arrived at one of the interviews with my leg in a bright red plaster. I’m glad I still made a good impression – luckily, they had a lift, otherwise it would have taken me a while to hobble my way to the first floor!

I accepted the job at Brown Shipley, and was known by my colleagues as “hop-along” for some time.


My first roles in financial services

I started work, and was helped hugely by being in the industry, so I could figure out all the abbreviations I was previously puzzled by.

I passed my first exam very quickly but discovered that if I wanted to continue with the next exam in the series, I had to complete it immediately, before the exam format was changed.

So, I got my head down, sat two further exams one day apart from each other, and passed them both.

I got to grips with the work and the clients, and came across a number of colleagues who I would come to work more closely with, including the founder of Chancellor, John Smallridge, Grant Farnell, David Heaton, and Posy Karam, to name a few.

However, just after settling in, there were several changes made to the company, and one by one, we all left. It just wasn’t a good fit for me.

I moved on to a different company, but immediately felt that I had jumped out of the frying pan and into the fire. Although I still picked up some valuable skills and the people were lovely, it just wasn’t the right job for me, and I became concerned about where to go next.

Surprisingly, I got a call out of the blue from John Smallridge, who was setting up a new business and asked me to go for a chat. What a relief! It would be a challenge to start from scratch, but the opportunity was a no-brainer for me.

I told John and Grant that business would be quiet to begin with, and was told not to worry. The quiet spell never came.


My 15-year journey at Chancellor Financial Management

Fast-forward almost 15 years, and I’ve passed many further exams, including:

  • One further insurance exam at certificate level
  • Another six exams taking me to diploma level
  • One of the advanced papers in the middle of 2020.

What I love about working as a paraplanner is that no two days are the same. I’m working to improve my skills all the time, and have even moved on to assisting in the advice process, producing reports, and attending client meetings too.


My life outside of Chancellors

I’ve worked extremely hard throughout my career, but I’ve had some fun too!

I completed the London Marathon with my sister. We raised money for World Animal Protection, a charity I care deeply about. I also ran for a couple of other charity events, and did a further half-marathon too. I’ve recently eased off the long-distance running, and go to the gym instead.

I also walk my dog, Jojo. I inherited Jojo from my mum, who I sadly lost five years ago. Jojo is a very feisty little Yorkshire Terrier who was rescued from death row – he definitely keeps me on my toes and in the great outdoors! I’m lucky enough to have some stunning walks right on my doorstep, and am proud to be a Lancashire lady.

The Covid-19 pandemic temporarily put a stop to travel, but, before then, I managed to get to some fabulous places, including Florida, Dubai, Cuba, Thailand, and Antigua, to name just a few.

I’m sure I have more exams and challenges ahead – not to mention holidays to arrange – but as I always say, no surprises there!


Get in touch

If you want to manage your wealth and gain valuable peace of mind for the future, we can help.

Email, or call 01204 526 846 to speak to an advisor.