“The heart of this industry is helping clients….but often in a big business your clients are actually also within your own company.” Ian Rand, Barclays’ Head of Business Management, Corporate Banking, shares why the industry isn’t all about finance, and why losing your military finesse is the last thing you should do.
Many avenues available
Within the complex structure of financial institutions, Ian is keen to state that you’ll find many roles within the industry that aren’t related directly to finance.
In Ian’s experience, Officer leavers often think about careers in investment banking, or areas such as Business Continuity, but don’t really understand the huge number of opportunities open to them in large Financial Institutions in other areas.
Ian says: “For example, within Corporate Banking at Barclays we support nearly a million business and Corporate clients. As well the bankers who work directly with these clients, we have many more people in areas such as operations, technology, risk, financial crime, and HR, which could all be great careers for service leavers”.
For example, when managing ‘risks’ inside banks, Ian proposes ex-military can take their project management skills, relating to risk and control, and apply them to the banking environment.
Ian says: “In terms of relevant skills and experience, it’s surprising how many people can make rapid transition into complex roles and services. For example, we have seen infantry captains having great success in their first couple of years at Barclays – taking on portfolios of complicated clients and supporting them, providing you are able to learn fast, almost any role is open to you”.
Go Beyond Front Office
Ian has faced some challenges in convincing ex-military that ‘front office’ and ‘client-facing’ roles are not the only avenues open to them.
He says: “For every role that talks to a client, there are around 6 that do not, so firstly, by only considering client facing roles you are dramatically narrowing your scope.”
“I like to use this example – if you were told that a role that involved a great salary, managing 150 people, international travel, excellent prospects for promotion and development and being a key role in a crisis…you might say you were very interested… but then how many officer leavers would actually consider a job that was titled ‘Call Centre Manager’? Leavers need to be really open minded about the roles, and think about what is important to them. For example, if what you love is leadership, than there will be many better roles for you than client facing or investment banking roles.”
Change management is also an area of growth within the industry. The roles available are similar to those of project management but focus more on managing the impact on clients or staff, following a major change in an organisation.
Do you need to modify your natural military style?
This topic causes a lot of debate with leavers, but Ian advocates that maintaining your ‘military style’ is key to success in the industry, arguing that the people he has seen fail in transition have tried too hard ‘to be like everyone else’.
Ian says: “We hire you as a military officer, because of your skills and style. We don’t want you to be like everyone else.”
He adds: “If you lose the ability to be demanding and challenging (in an acceptable way within the culture, of course) you will lose your individual value. I think some struggle when they put pressure on themselves to modify what makes them unique.”
The increasingly growing world of fraud and crime
This is a very strong growth area in the industry, historically, skills within this sector have been quite technical but as this area expands, there are now more roles that ex-military could succeed in. Ian argues that there is a strong need in these areas for “leaders, who are experienced at leading in a risk environment, and can apply that experience in another industry”.
Ian asserts that these are not essential but sometimes help if you’re being interviewed by someone with little experience of working with ex-military. He says: “If, for example, if you are looking at a Project Management role and you have a Prince 2 qualification on your CV, it may give the interviewer something of a comfort blanket if they are less familiar with how your military CV could translate to their world.”
But he adds that a confident performance at interview, and the ability to talk through how you would apply your skills and experience to the role you are applying for, is equally important.
Playing to your strengths is paramount
To gauge the areas an individual will thrive in, or enjoy the most, Ian asks individuals to tell him about their ‘best’ and ‘worst’ day in the military.
He says: “If your best day was the day you took command and your worst day was the one where you handed over command, and moved into a staff job – why would you want to do a staff job in a bank where you have no leadership responsibilities?”
He concludes that being honest with yourself about what you enjoy, and then testing your next job against that, is critical to a successful transition.