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Tuesday, 25 September 2012

What happened when a City wealth manager hired a council estate boy with no A-levels

Evening Standard

Hidden talent: Raihan Sadiq, right, now works full-time for James Goodchild at Westbury Private Clients

David Cohen

25 September 2012
The employer’s story

James Goodchild typically hired only the brightest Oxbridge graduates for his boutique wealth management business in the City. His company, Westbury Private Clients, employs just 14 people who manage funds of £225 million for high net-worth individuals, and he had never taken on an apprentice — let alone an employee who failed to finish secondary school.

But two years ago Mr Goodchild read an article about a City Gateway apprentice who had joined RBS amid rising youth unemployment and he decided to take a risk. “I thought maybe I would discover some hidden talent, so I called City Gateway and before I knew it they had sent me three young candidates to interview,” he said.

All three candidates had researched the firm well, he said, but one of them — Raihan Sadiq — stood head and shoulders above the rest.

Mr Goodchild said: “He told me about his love of calligraphy and that his work had been admired by Prince Charles in an exhibition. I saw how skilled he was and that he knew what it was to be excellent at something, and I thought his attention to detail would stand him in good stead.”

He offered Raihan an apprenticeship starting in January last year.

“His first job was to make tea and do basic admin,” recalled Mr Goodchild. “I took him under my wing and taught him about equity markets, bond markets and hedge funds. He arrived knowing nothing but proved a quick learner. We put him in charge of recording our market data and managing our website and social media.”

Mr Goodchild, 33, could not be more different from Raihan — he has a masters in finance, is married with two children and lives in a well-to-do village near Stansted, whereas Raihan, 19, comes from a council estate in the East End — yet the two men formed a strong bond. Mr Goodchild said: “Raihan impressed me with his drive and can-do attitude. He is a team player who gets on with everyone — and he turned out to be very talented at IT.”

After three months, he decided to offer Mr Sadiq a full-time job as an assistant fund manager in charge of their website with a package worth more than £15,000 a year.

“It’s just the start,” he said. “If Raihan gets some CISI [Chartered Institute for Securities & Investment] exams under his belt, the sky is the limit: he could be earning £50,000 in five years and £100,000 by his late twenties.”

Initially, said Mr Goodchild, he hired Raihan as an act of social responsibility, willing to put up with him for a few months if things didn’t work out, but there was a moment when things turned round and the new apprentice became a value-for-money, indispensable asset to the business.

“This is a lad who came to us with two GCSEs and zero A-levels, and who has broken the mould of what it takes to get ahead in finance,” he said.

“My message to other employers is to go for it. Just do it! There’s a lot of prejudice against people from council estates with challenging backgrounds like Raihan, but the youth of today are an untapped resource and it’s up to us employers to give them a chance. People like Raihan add a unique dynamism to our team. I feel hugely vindicated for taking him on.”

The apprentice’s story

When Raihan Sadiq left school with just two GCSEs, the “elders” on his estate in Stepney gave him some career advice. “You have three options,” they told him. “You can sell drugs for the estate’s ‘alternative pharmacy’. You can do credit card scams. Or you can hotwire cars.”

“These guys were five years older than me, they drove Porsches and wore Gucci and they said I could make 10 grand a month,” said Mr Sadiq. “For a 16-year-old with no qualifications like myself, and living in a household where no one worked, it was tempting. Some of my mates jumped in. All that kept me from doing it was the thought of how upset my mum would be.”

After trying for jobs and getting knocked back, Raihan was drawn to an advert at his youth club from a group called City Gateway that said: “Earn and learn at the same time”.

In June 2010, he decided to try their pre-apprenticeship training in IT with English and maths — it turned out to be the best decision he ever made.

Born in London to parents who spoke little English and of Bangladeshi descent, Raihan had done well in primary school — getting level 6 for Sats, two levels above the national average and top of his class — before falling in with the wrong crowd in high school. “I got into truancy and gang fights, so leaving school was a relief,” he said. “At City Gateway, the tutors treated us like adults. I realised that there was no future in hanging around people who got into trouble with the police.”

Two of his schoolfriends would end up in prison, and a third was stabbed to death this summer. It left Raihan quite shaken. “That could have been me,” he said. “Make no mistake, City Gateway changed my life. They taught me simple skills that most people take for granted — how to present myself at interview, to be confident, to say what I think and be who I am.”

After seven months with City Gateway, they sent him to an interview for an apprenticeship at Westbury Private Clients. His charm, and hard work, paid off. They took him on. “I was very nervous. I didn’t have a clue what equities or bonds were but my boss James Goodchild gave me booklets and I started reading the Financial Times every day. I became a sponge.

“James was my mentor and taught me everything I know. When he offered me a full-time contract after three months, I have never signed a piece of paper so quickly. I couldn’t stop shaking his hand. I couldn’t believe somebody like him saw potential in somebody like me. I called my mum to tell her and she cooked me my favourite meal of lamb chops masala to celebrate.

“Before I worked at Westbury, I didn’t have any proper clothes and I had never been on holiday. Now I have three suits, eight ties and 10 shirts, and I have just come back from a week in Cyprus with my mates. I paid for my cousin to come along as his birthday present — it was our first proper holiday and it was brilliant!”

Mr Sadiq’splan is to save up for a car and to study for a financial CISI qualification. “When I show my mates my business cards, they are like, ‘look at you all slick and classy’. But they are happy for me. They think I must be a financial genius but really I just knuckled down. I still find it hard to believe how my life has changed. I have a future because of City Gateway, and because somebody like James took a chance on me.”
How our campaign works...

Taking on apprentices is simple. You would:

* Be provided with a shortlist of suitable candidates to interview.

* Take on each apprentice for one year (if you can only manage part of a year, City Gateway will “buddy you up” with another employer).

* Have them work for you for at least 30 hours a week.

* Release them for one day a week to complete their NVQ Intermediate or Advanced training.

* Be provided with ongoing support by City Gateway.

Is there a sweetener?

The Government may give you a £1,500 grant, provided that you have 1,000 employees or fewer and have not taken on an apprentice in the last year. City Gateway will do all the paperwork to make it easy.

What will it cost you?

You are required to pay the national apprentice wage of £2.60 an hour, although we encourage the London living wage of £8.30 or the national minimum wage of £6.08. You can employ an apprentice directly from City Gateway, or City Gateway can pay the apprentice and invoice you. The annual pre-tax cost per apprentice, if you are eligible for the £1,500 grant, is approximately: £2,500 at pay of £2.60/hr; £8,000 at pay of £6.08/hr; £11,000 at pay of £8.30/hr.

How do you get an apprentice?

To get the ball rolling, click on or
More on our Ladder for London campaign:

Take on an apprentice and help beat youth unemployment

Eddie's story: The human dynamo who turns young tearaways into valued City workers

Paula's story: ‘I was angry, desperate and out of control ... now I’m on top of the world thanks to City Gateway’

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