Getting on in Financial Services – Is it all about qualifications?
Last updated on September 25th, 2019 at 4:36 am
In striving to achieve qualifications in financial services, we can overlook other areas that can make a difference to whether or not we are offered that next opportunity. This article discusses the importance of honing communication skills and devoting time to outside interests.
Qualifications, qualifications, qualifications. Is that what it is all about? Or is there more to progressing your career? We are contacted by many individuals trying to ‘get into’ financial services as well as those in the early years of their career who are looking to progress, asking about qualifications and what they should sit to get to wherever it is they want to be. Career progression seems to revolve around qualifications – what exams have been passed, when were they passed, what exams are you planning to sit in the future, what qualifications do you already hold? Certainly having and working towards qualifications is very important for entering the profession and moving forwards, but isn’t there more to it?
It has been said by many in the medical field that today medical students lack basic skills such as having a good ‘bedside manner’ and being able to communicate with patients. It’s all about sticking your head in a book and coming out with a qualification. Is this also true in financial services? Is the focus on getting the knowledge, the understanding, the pieces of paper that say ‘Pass’? Are we forgetting about the soft skills that are essential too?
Holding qualifications is a ‘must have’, but other skills such as being able to communicate verbally as well as in writing, listening and researching have to be just as important. Areas to look out for include grammar and spelling, as well as the tone of communication, depending on the content and the relationship that exists between you and the recipient. Here at Brand Financial Training we like to be friendly and relaxed in our communications, but we hope we achieve a good balance with remaining professional and respectful. Look out for ‘text speak’ – For a personal email it might not matter, but it doesn’t look good in a communication with a client or manager. It’s akin to seeing your boss in the street, giving them a High 5 and asking ‘what’s up?’. It would be weird.
I’m sure many of us remember our parents banging on about saying ‘please’ and ‘thank you’. Annoying at the time, but so important. Emails can come across as abrupt and demanding without them. Nearly everyone would be more likely to go the extra mile for someone if they’re polite.
Recently one of our recruitment contacts was saying how they couldn’t quite believe the CVs and covering emails they receive. There seems to be a great deal of grammar and typo issues alongside a far too laid back approach to communicating with someone who may just have the right opportunity for their next career move. Is it that the need for soft skills has been forgotten?
A while ago, Martin Bamford wrote an article on adviserlounge.co.uk about his recent experience trying to recruit. He commented that he saw very little in terms of ‘interests or passions’. He wondered if people have the ‘substance to back up your experience, qualifications and enthusiasm’. Qualifications are important, as is experience – whether that be experience in financial services or other experiences – but being able to display enthusiasm, motivation and general all-round ability to communicate is just as important.Being able to communicate well is just as important as holding qualifications. Click To Tweet
What does playing a team sport have to do with winning a position in financial services? It suggests an ability to work with others towards a common goal as well as demonstrating a level of competitiveness.
What does loving to read educational and thought-provoking books say about someone? It says that person is keen to learn, to expand his or her knowledge base and to be self-motivated.
What does helping out on your kid’s school PTA and taking part in fund-raising events tell people about you? It shows that you are willing to devote time to things that matter to you.
Having interests outside of work can make an individual stand out from the crowd and be interesting.
Surely, it shouldn’t be all about qualifications, but about being well-rounded with good communication skills and providing a lot more than the knowledge studying for exams provides.
Over to You…
What are some of your outside interests that you feel help your career prospects?
The original version of this article was published in Money Marketing.