‘Joining the Armed Forces doesn’t hold you back in your career – it makes you more marketable’

Within five minutes of speaking to Francis, you quickly realise that he isn’t your archetypal private banker. Certainly he is well spoken, erudite and passionate as you would expect, but it’s around helping others to recognise their strengths and abilities to make the most of translating their military skills, that really gets him engaged.

Francis started his working career in the Army having gained an insight into the structure and discipline of military life by joining his school Combined Cadet Force (CCF). He speaks fondly about his days on the school parade ground and comments that the CCF was the, ‘perfect recruiting tool’ for him as it sowed the seeds of a military career and enticed him with glimpses of what lay ahead. Francis joked, “The idea that I could do this forever and get paid for it, meant it was a no brainer for me!”

His childhood expectations didn’t fail him when he went on to serve eight and a half years with the Queen’s Royal Hussars. Having trained as an infantryman, Francis saw active service in Afghanistan and Iraq, where his ability to pick up Arabic and Persian stood him in good stead, and where the experience of living in a culture “so completely counter to my own” left a lasting memory.

Bastion Ranges 2012

Kandahar, the location of one of Francis’ final and most exciting of tours, presented new challenges destroying local heroin factories, and eventually led him to make the decision to leave the Services with his new wife in mind and an additional job offer from German defence manufacturing company, Heckler and Koch. Helping to develop the company’s international market, Francis, who also speaks Spanish, spent eighteen months working in South America.

Francis, now a private Banker with Citi, has found his feet, especially when it comes to building strong relationships and developing his people skills. Unsure at first of his own ability to deal with the level of responsibility involved, his confidence grew and his objective to win personal clients has become his core focus.

He passed his IAD (Investment Advice Diploma) and is undertaking PCIAM exams (Private Clients Investment Advice & Management). Citi, who have demonstrated much support to employees coming from a military background, are happy to grant Francis, who is a firm proponent of the Reservists, a fortnight’s leave every year to complete specialist training with the Parachute Regiment.

When asked about what has helped his progress to date, he says his numeracy, though he has drawn on his operations based background in the military to help him tackle things he had little to no experience in.

Francis was one of the early founders (and is currently Secretary) of the rapidly growing and valued City Veterans Network (CVN) which was set up in 2014 to address the lack of continuity between the Services and the financial services industry. Whilst entering the world of banking can be considered something of a traditional path for officers, it still isn’t that easy to break through. The CVN aims to provide former servicemen and women with an insight into the way the City works which ultimately helps to break down barriers between the two sectors and gets more servicemen and women hired in an intelligent fashion.

Francis’ specific advice:

– Joining the Armed Forces doesn’t hold you back in your career, in fact, it makes you more marketable.

– Attend as many company insight events as possible. This will give you a good idea of what you want (and don’t want to do!)

– Consider a graduate programme or internship to become a ‘known quantity’ as this experience will make you more attractive to employers when featured on your CV.