From film production to financial planning

Emily Man talks to about how she moved from film production to advising those in the creative industries about their finances and why she wants to change the face of financial planning.

emily man


Emily Man had a full-on career in tv and film production and then advertising when she had her twins and decided to diversify into financial advising. She has now built her own business advising those in the creative industries and says people have the wrong idea about financial advice.

For her it’s not just about making money, but about being interested in people’s lives and ensuring they plan ahead enough to ensure they have enough money to do what they want as they get older. “Financial planning is about technical knowledge, but ultimately it is about giving people confidence,” she says. “Earning a good income is always secondary for me in terms of my mission. There is a perception that financial planners only speak to people who have money to invest. That’s not the point for me. We need to work out what you want, where you want to be and what you have so we can join up the dots.”

Emily was freelancing for 20 years  in the creative industries, having started in short films and theatre in the 1990s. She knew when she graduated that she wanted to work in film production and she started making her own films and met people through that. In retrospect she thinks it would have been easier to get a job in a film production company and work her way up. “I wasted a lot of time,” she says.

She developed a portfolio career as the years went by as feature films didn’t earn her much money. From February to July she conducted history of art tours in Italy [her degree was in Italian] and the rest of the year she made films, working with writers and directors to get scripts off the ground,  as well as coaching people in the industry to help individuals and teams find their own way towards solutions.  She also did post production work for clients such as Disney and Channel 4 to boost her earnings.

Family changes

At 38 Emily met her husband and they started trying for a family. After two years of trying and several rounds of IVF she was offered a job running the production department of advertising firm Saatchi and Saatchi who she had worked with on corporate content.  She and her husband still wanted to try for children so went down the route of donor eggs. It was on the second attempt that Emily became pregnant with twins. She flew to Alicante and had the eggs implanted at 10.30am and was back on a plane home at 12.30. “It was a last ditch attempt and I didn’t have the energy to invest any more or my hopes and dreams on it,” she says.

She had never talked about the emotional rollercoaster of IVF or donor eggs at work even though she thinks her colleagues would have been supportive. She worked frantically until she was seven months pregnant and could hardly move. When the twins were three months old Emily was offered redundancy and she decided to take it.

Financial advice

By that time she had been introduced to Mike Wilson, a co-founder of St James Place Wealth Management Academy, through a friend as well as to other financial advisers. She applied to the Academy and sat two exams to get in. She started her course when her girls were nine months old and moved house on the same day.  St James Place not only helped to train her, but they were hugely supportive in the months that followed, both practically and financially. The first two years were hard, though, as Emily built her network and realised that her friends and colleagues in the creative industries needed financial advice. “We speak the same language,” she says simply. “There is trust.” St James also helped her with a loan to cover her childcare costs as she built the business.

Just over five years after doing the course, Emily, who lives in East Sussex, now has 225 clients, a PA and a flexible job that fits around her children. She never misses any school event and she takes off all the school holidays. “It’s the perfect job,” she says.

So what do you need to be a financial adviser? Emily says curiosity and passion about people and an enjoyment of numbers. “Everything else can be taught,” she says. She adds that ironically for someone who is focused on planning, the decision to take redundancy that led to her changing career was totally unplanned. Like many she didn’t even know what a financial adviser was at the time or how important it is to plan for the future. She hadn’t been paying into a pension and was completely unengaged with her financial future.  Now she is absolutely evangelical about engaging people. “I am so passionate about it and I try not to be too jargony and boring so I scare people off. You have to talk to people in ways that are relevant to them,” she says. Even when they engage, though, few people take action.

“It’s one of the reasons I love my job because everyone has different challenges and barriers, whether emotional or practical,” says Emily. She says trust in financial advisers can be low, which she acknowledges has been deserved until recently. But she hopes things are changing and that more people from a wider range of backgrounds are coming into the industry. St James Place attracts people from many backgrounds, she says, adding: “When I tell people what I do they often glaze over, but as soon as I explain it to people – that I change people’s lives – they engage.”

*Emily is currently recruiting a financial adviser to help her with her business. To find out more, go to

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