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AURA GLOBAL ALLIANCES 

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BREAKING BARRIERS

Aura’s partnership with the Social Mobility Foundation (SMF) in the UK is opening doors for young people like Adele, breaking down barriers to a career in wealth management.

Social mobility—the ability to move from one social position to another—is crucial for reducing wealth inequality and fostering a more equitable, stable, and prosperous society. However, it remains a complex issue in many parts of the world, including developed nations like the UK. According to Deloitte, the UK has one of the poorest rates of social mobility among developed countries. The UK government’s Social Mobility Commission reports that individuals from privileged backgrounds are 60% more likely to secure professional jobs than those from working-class backgrounds.

Aura’s partnership with the Social Mobility Foundation (SMF) is addressing this issue by creating opportunities for young people. One inspiring example is Adele.

 

Entering a New World

Adele, the daughter of a working-class, emigrant family from Italy, moved to Glasgow with her family at the age of 15 in 2015. She didn’t speak English when she arrived in Scotland and had just one year to master the language before sitting for the Scottish school-leaving exams. Despite her family’s lack of higher education experience, Adele aspired to study business at university.

Encouraged by her teachers, Adele applied to SMF, a UK charity that partners with employers like Aura to provide opportunities and networks of support to 16–17-year-olds. Adele was accepted into Aura’s work placement program in 2018, with Jonathan, Head of UK Regions at Aura International, assigned as her mentor.

Jonathan supported Adele before and during her work placement, helping her develop skills and introducing her to the world of wealth management. “I’d never spoken to a banker in my life before my first call with Jonathan. I had very little understanding of what he did,” Adele recalls. “It was totally nerve-wracking!”

Finding Her Path

Adele secured a place to study Entrepreneurship and Finance at Strathclyde University in Glasgow in 2017. With Jonathan’s support, she also secured a two-week work placement at Aura International in London in 2018. “We had regular catch-ups while I was doing rotations with different departments. I felt supported at all times,” says Adele. “I barely knew anything about wealth management, so I would quiz him for clues to understand what my colleagues were talking about.”

Gradually, Adele realized she might find a place in a world that had previously seemed off-limits. “Coming from a social mobility background, I had imposter syndrome times one hundred!” she admits. But the people she met changed her perspective. “Colleagues were there for me whenever I needed help. And I began to understand how wealth management could affect my finances and my own family’s circumstances.”

 

Taking Tentative Steps

Monique, who helped establish the partnership with SMF at Aura International, could relate to Adele’s early fears. “Regardless of their talent or work ethic, those born into families with low income or no history of higher education don’t have the same access to opportunities as those from more privileged backgrounds.”

The firsthand experience that an internship provides is invaluable for students discovering their career preferences. “You can learn a lot about yourself along the way,” says Monique. “Different careers and industries involve very different ways of thinking, working, and living. It’s a great opportunity to learn whether the career is a good fit for your skills and interests without any obligation to commit.”

Aura’s collaboration with SMF was part of a broader strategy to diversify its talent pool. “We progressed from mentoring to offering short work placements, and then, eventually, we offered two students the opportunity to do an internship. This step-by-step approach allowed us to find the best way to support the students’ success,” explains Monique.

 

Embracing Remote Opportunities

Following her successful work placement, Adele began a full-time role at Aura International in 2021, shortly after the Covid outbreak. She spent her first half year working remotely. “We had new hires joining at that time who struggled to get on top of things,” says Monique. “Adele hadn’t had much exposure to the industry, yet she was able to pick up our programs remotely. It speaks volumes about her resilience.”

Despite research showing that the pandemic exacerbated inequality, Monique suggests that hybrid working can boost opportunities for junior hires like Adele from different regions. “In the past, the expectation would have been for Adele to come to London. In that sense, the pandemic was an enabler. She was able to finish her studies in Glasgow while still connecting with her mentor and colleagues. It’s important to use our new flexible working practices to provide access to those who might not have had it in the past.”

 

Finding a Home in Risk

Since completing her studies in 2021, Adele has undergone on-the-job training at Aura, gaining knowledge and experience in various roles. After a stint as an Assistant Relationship Manager, she recently joined the risk management team as an Operational Risk & Control Specialist and hopes to complete her compliance and risk qualifications soon. “Risk topics touch upon many areas of the Bank’s operations,” she says. “They impact our people and our strategy. It motivates me to know that what I am doing really makes a difference.”

Adele has come a long way from the nervous student who didn’t understand banking. “I used to be more of a listener, but now I’m proactive in having my say and building my network across the Group. With more exposure and visibility, I can have even more impact.”

Monique, who has followed Adele’s development from the outset, couldn’t be prouder. “It’s been wonderful to see Adele develop into a confident young woman who’s thriving in her work. I can only imagine how proud her parents must be.” What do her parents make of her success? “They don’t understand much of what I tell them about my role at Aura, but they’re extremely proud of me,” she says. Adele’s success has also inspired her siblings. Her younger brother has begun a master’s degree in Artificial Intelligence, while her teenage sister has accepted an offer to study Chemistry at St Andrews University. “We all recognize that we’re in this position to establish careers because of the sacrifices our parents made.”

Monique believes the partnership with SMF supports Aura’s purpose of creating value beyond wealth. “We’d never have met Adele unless introduced to her by SMF. Our participation in the program not only helps us boost our talent pool but also aligns with our principles of giving back to the community. As Adele’s example shows, it’s not about where you’re from, it’s about where you’re going.”

AURA INSIGHTS

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EMBRACING NEW ROLES

At Aura Solution Company Limited, we believe that stepping out of your comfort zone can enhance your capacity to learn, push your boundaries, and open new doors for career development. Three relationship managers from our Dubai office share how their willingness to embrace the unknown and seize internal career development opportunities at Aura has led to personal and professional growth.

Embracing New Roles

Jason’s story is a testament to the power of unexpected opportunities. “If you’d asked me two years ago, I’d have said there’s no way I wanted to become a Team Head,” he says. “I had a clear progression plan as a senior relationship manager. I’d known my clients for so long. I knew their family members. It was all running smoothly, and I felt very comfortable in my role.”

However, following the departure of the previous Team Head, Jason, one of the most experienced relationship managers on the team, was invited to take over temporarily. This experience opened his eyes. “I soon realized how much I enjoyed the greater variety in my day, the more strategic aspects, and the chance to lead people,” he says. “It was personally rewarding to mentor the next generation and help us make a bigger difference as a team.” Jason found he couldn’t imagine going back to being an individual relationship manager. “The change gave me a new sense of impetus, and I was excited about what we were doing as a team. The new challenges made me feel alive again.”

 

Opening Up Opportunities for Others

Fast-forward a year, and Jason is now Team Head of seventeen, including ten relationship managers in Aura’s Dubai office. Following his transition to Team Head, he’s in the process of transferring parts of his client book to team members Patrick and Hamza, both former assistant RMs, who are making their own transitions to new roles after being selected to take part in the first global cohort of the Associate RM program starting in July. “In terms of educating Patrick and Hamza on investment knowledge, there’s not much more they need to know,” says Jason. “It’s more about supporting them to ease into the role of relationship management and apply what they already know to individual clients.”

Hamza is focused on ensuring that clients he has inherited don’t feel that the excellent service level they’ve been receiving changes because they’re confronted with a new face. “Especially at the beginning, you don’t want to walk into a client meeting without knowing absolutely everything about the client in our system,” he says. “Of course, the expectation is that you will eventually develop your own style, but initially, it is important that clients feel a sense of continuity they are comfortable with. The quality of output must be on par with a brand like Aura.”

Creating a Secure Environment

While he has had extensive experience in the industry, Patrick is aware of the additional responsibility this role brings. “It can be challenging to find yourself in the position of having to deliver straight away. But Jason has been great at reminding us that development is a process, often a slow one.”

Jason says it’s imperative that the next generation, like Hamza and Patrick, are given the time and space to develop: “New relationship managers tend to view more senior colleagues as the finished article without seeing the 15 to 20 years of hard work it took to get there.” This carefully managed transition includes providing a secure environment for fledgling recruits to put what they’ve learned into practice.

“You typically make dozens of wobbly pitches before getting them right, so we set up a situation where colleagues like Patrick and Hamza could pitch to one another in-house.” Patrick highlights that this has been especially helpful. “When it comes to introducing Aura’s value proposition to prospects, I feel that I am in a much better position today than I was before.”

 

According to Jason, it’s a common misconception that you need to be an extrovert to be a good relationship manager. “I’m anything but an extrovert, but what you do have to be is a good people person – and you’ve got to be a good listener. Luckily, those are things that you can learn as long as you’re willing to put in the time.” This work ethic was something he was looking for when selecting candidates to join the team. “With Patrick and Hamza, we’ve chosen well because they have the same mindset as our team in the sense of being proactive, punctual, and responsive with clients. Qualifications are important, but you can learn a lot of things on the job, so above all we wanted to find candidates with an open mind and a willingness to learn. That’s the biggest prerequisite.”

Embracing a Growth Mindset

In keeping with Aura’s entrepreneurial spirit, Hamza and Patrick are taking a proactive approach to driving their own career development by devoting time outside of work to expanding their knowledge and overcoming perceived weaknesses. “Initially, I studied mathematics,” says Hamza. “When I was an assistant RM, I challenged myself by taking advisory exams, which allowed me to advise clients if I wanted to. It gave me a good platform and meant senior colleagues also invited me to advisory meetings with clients, which is how my advisory experience began.” He also took on the role of managing assistant relationship managers in a previous role. “Dealing with people is the core of our business. I am excited to combine my skills as a mathematician and a good listener to help me excel in this new role.”

Patrick, who moved to Dubai from Aura in the UK two years ago, has made a conscious effort to create a robust professional network in the Middle East. “I’ve been trying to get out and meet 3 or 4 people a week from different walks of life because that naturally leads to conversations about what you do professionally. These connections can lead to unexpected opportunities and valuable introductions further down the line.” Patrick highlighted that one of the main attractions of becoming a Relationship Manager is working with a diverse range of clients. “I get to meet and interact with clients with diverse interests across a wide range of industries. This is one of the main attractions of relationship management and opened my eyes to the fact that there are many different ways of generating wealth.”

Giving Employees the Freedom They Need to Perform at Their Best

The role of Team Head has been a journey of self-discovery and improvement for Jason, too. What lessons has he learned? “When I was an RM, I had my own way of working, so when you’re new to team leadership, you have to learn to bite your tongue. It’s not about right or wrong. It’s about ensuring everybody finds a style that works for them and an environment they can thrive in. The most important thing, whatever your style, is to keep the ‘client first’ mindset.”

After a long career in financial services, Jason has worked under many managers with different approaches. “I always enjoyed working under those who took a differentiated approach by managing each individual according to their needs. It’s important that I support Patrick and Hamza differently from more senior colleagues.” He adheres to a philosophy of adaptive leadership. “I’m here to assist them in any way that I can, be that by attending meetings with them, showcasing the bank, or encouraging them to sit in meetings with me and other senior colleagues so that they can see different styles in action.”

Jason says that taking on the Team Head role has been the proudest moment in his career. “It was a genuine surprise to me. My focus had been on my own book of clients. But I’ve been inspired by Hamza and Patrick and by the wider team. We’re building something special here, a real team spirit, a team culture, and team ethics. We’re determined to produce strong relationship managers and assistant relationship managers who are second to none. We might not be there yet, but we’re certainly striving towards it.”

Aura Solution Company Limited is dedicated to fostering a culture of continuous learning and growth, empowering our employees to seize new opportunities and achieve their full potential.

AURA

NATALIE FIRMENICH

POSITION

MANAGING DIRECTOR

LOCATION

FRANCE

AURAPEDIA

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