Moving within a business or area of expertise can be an overwhelming endeavor. A career in financial services can take an employee through multiple branches before landing the fulfilling career goal. From big to small business, a career in financial services can offer a myriad of opportunities.
Financial services professionals can specialize in corporate, public accounting, banking, and more. Within those specializations, there can be a focus in financial advising and planning, general accounting, credit controller, and auditing, to name a few. Some professionals chose to divert and change their financial career path to a different department or scope of business.
We spoke with Jessica Lipkin, Associate Director here at Michael Page, about this very topic.
The Right Skills to Develop
For all types of finance, a degree in the field is required. A four year degree can be enough to get a foot into the door as a general accountant, for example, but continuing education often builds the skills needed to advance. Through different certifications and testing, an entry level employee in finance can cultivate skills needed to transition for advancement between different areas and branches of financial services.
Examples of soft skills needed in the financial market are communication, organization, and time management. Depending on the area of financial services, customer service or presentation skills may also come into play. “If you can speak to internal stakeholders and senior members and sound more polished, you will go farther,” said Lipkin. These are also the transferable skills most often sought after.
Hard skills to cultivate in the financial world lean more on the technical side, such as being able to create processes and have a deep understanding of automation. Another example is a mathematical knowledge and the ability to communicate that to a client or boss. Coming to the table with new ideas and faster, more streamlined ways to help financial firms achieve what they need for themselves and their clients is a big skill to have when transitioning through the field.
There is no clear-cut, direct line in financial services that will get to your end goal. “It’s a different kind of conversation to have with your boss about moving internally,” said Lipkin. The journey and career goals may change along the way, but being open minded and an advocate for yourself will help change your trajectory. These changes may come with going to a bigger firm or exploring a new department to expand your skills.
Achieving a move internally is always the first option. As an existing employee with a good track record, it may be an easy conversation to have with management. Internal growth not only strengthens the employee, but also the employer. Willingness and ability to help guide their people through their career shows that they truly value their employees.
“Talk to your manager, talk to HR, and look at your firms job boards,” stressed Lipkin. Ensure you build your best case before going into these conversations to set yourself up for success.
This may be a challenge, however. Upper management may not want to move an employee internally because of the great work that is being done in their current role. They also may not have the opportunity you’re looking for, or the exact right role to offer you. When all internal options have been exhausted, the option to then move externally presents itself.
When moving externally to get to the next area of your career, look to lateral moves to get you where you need to you.
“It can be the same role but just a little more attractive in team and money. Then, give it time and in about a year or so, talk about internal mobility,” said Lipkin.
Bring up the idea of a move during the annual review process and have those open conversations. Moving externally builds the skills currently owned and creates new skills and experience to drive that internal move to a different area or department.
Even if you are using this new role as a steppingstone, remember to give the job your all. Excel and learn from everything the position has to offer in order to develop the tools to move forward. If you’re not bringing your best effort, your employer will pick up on the lack of motivation. This will not only reflect badly on your current work, but also dampen your opportunities for internal mobility. Be patient and take steps as appropriate.
Lipkin mentioned by making an external move, “you may find you don’t have to move totally out of what you have been doing to begin with to be happy.” Maybe the external move guides you to a position/department that was never intended to be the “dream job.” That move though, could bring all the fulfillment needed and moving up the ladder is no longer the end game.
If happy with the current firm but just not excited about the area of work, then try to explore all options of internal mobility. Once all those options have been exhausted and the passion for the current projects might not be as strong as is once was, reach out to one of our skilled recruiters to see what external moves are available.
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