Troy Bruce was becoming increasingly frustrated with the oil and gas industry and with a new baby on the way he took a “leap of faith” to a new career.
Mr Bruce, who is now a financial planner with VT Wealth, was facing redundancy in his oil and gas job when he decided it was time to shift away from the “soulless” rotations of offshore work he’d been used to.
In November 2020, after a rigorous three-month application process he was accepted into the St James’s Place Academy, a training programme for financial advisers.
The mechanical engineer had been reaping the benefits of a booming oil and gas industry with various engineering roles taking him across Europe and Africa.
The major downturn of 2015 led to severe impacts on jobs such as Mr Bruce’s and redundancies were par for the course.
He found himself seeking employment and took on a sales position with a local Mercedes car dealership in Aberdeen to keep his head above water, biding his time for when things picked up.
And when the industry did indeed start to show signs of some recovery with employment opportunities opening up once again, Mr Bruce, who is originally from Banff, worked for the next few years in more engineering-related positions.
Yet at the back of the 29-year old’s mind was the underlying fear of job insecurity amidst a volatile oil industry.
Is there more to life than this?
Nor could he shift the nagging feeling that there was more to life than the rigs and that he had more to offer.
A natural forward planner with a strong grasp on his personal finances, Mr Bruce began preparing in the background for what he felt was that inevitable day that he would be made redundant.
However, in February 2020, just before the pandemic hit, he had landed a rewarding corporate job and was working from home during lockdown trying to make the best of his new role. Then just months later, his worst fears were once again realised.
He said: “I received my notice of potential redundancy in July 2020 just five months into my new job – I felt completely deflated.
“We had just found out my wife was expecting a baby and I was struggling to think how I was going to support a family – I didn’t know what I was going to do.
“Should I persist in the volatile energy sector or make that commitment to change career?”
Redundancy ‘catalyst for change’
Yet the redundancy letter landing on his desk proved to be the catalyst he needed to take the plunge.
“I knew I wanted a change, but it’s not always easy to make that change when you get pigeon-holed into a certain role and get too comfortable,” he said.
“I didn’t know how to make the break from the industry as it was all I had known since leaving university on accepting my first role as a trainee drilling engineer.
“I had chosen it as my career, and I didn’t think I had any other realistic options.”
With a young family to support, he knew he had to act fast. Having grown up with his father as an accountant, crunching numbers seemed to be in his blood and he had always had an interest in investments and financial planning.
“I knew I had to take my future into my own hands. I wanted to do something that I had a real interest in, and it was a case of now or never.
“My life had changed in that I had a family to support, and I didn’t want to go back to offshore work or overseas travel, so, I reassessed my priorities and came up with a plan.”
After some research and talking his plans through with his wife Robyn, Mr Bruce submitted an application into the academy programme with wealth manager St James’s Place to train as a financial adviser.
“Considering a six-month programme with minimal income whilst studying full time was a big step which I would never have taken without the support of my wife and family,” he said. “Their encouragement and belief in me combined with my forward financial planning, made the opportunity to change possible.”
During his studies, Mr Bruce was assigned a mentor to help guide and advise him – his mentor is now his principal, Vee Thom, owner and director of VT Wealth, a family-run business based in Aberdeen and Fraserburgh.
It’s not how much you have it’s what you do with it that counts
“I’m incredibly grateful to Vee for giving me the chance to show what I can bring to the VT Wealth family,” said Mr Bruce.
“Every one of our clients’ individual financial circumstances are different and people require different financial advice depending on what stage they’re at in their lives and careers.
“Wealth is not about having a lot of money; it’s about having a lot of options and it’s my job to present those options to my clients in a way that benefits them most, no matter where they are on their financial journey.”
Mr Bruce now works with VT Wealth’s clients to develop financial plans including pensions and mortgages to savings and investments schemes.
He said: “It feels amazing to be doing something I really enjoy.
“My daughter is just about to turn a year old and to think this time last year I didn’t know my life was about to change trajectory so quickly.
“I managed to turn what seemed like a terrible situation into a positive one and if the past year has taught me anything, it’s that it’s never too late to take the plunge and seek out new opportunities.”
Some advice? Inflation-proof your finances
For people living in the UK, managing personal finances is entering a challenging new phase, with predictions that rising inflation, alongside higher costs of borrowing, energy and food prices will cause “real pain” for citizens.
He said: “Inflation is a risk that is often overlooked, however, higher inflation means you need your money to work harder for you, so you don’t lose purchasing power.
“Combined with low interest rates, increasing inflation could pose a problem for those with large amounts of cash.
“Therefore, my biggest piece of advice is to speak to trusted adviser who will help you build a robust financial plan based on well informed decisions as well as ensure the plan remains fit for purpose as your needs and the world around you changes over time.”