Financial Services: It’s not just a numbers game

Many believe that money is at the absolute heart of Financial Services and the career paths involved remain unvaried but the OA’s recent Pathfinder article revealed that there’s so much more to the sector than numbers…

From FinTech (financial technology) start-ups to operations management and cyber security the diversity of roles means that there is one to suit anyone from a military background; the key is to match this to your skills, aspirations and values.

“The transition from Army officer to entrepreneur is not such a mad one,” says ex British Army Officer, James Hulme. As someone who can educate those considering a career in the Finance Industry on what to expect, James is also proof of how wide-ranging the sector’s opportunities can be, especially given his own interesting professional trajectory. After a period of nineteen months in the more conventional Bank of England and then onto the less commonly trodden sphere of FinTech, James may have finally found that all-new mission he has been after for some time.

James’ recent launch of the startup ‘Maintio’ Ltd’ aims to limit the amount of fraud that customers fall prey to on an all too regular basis. A victim of the crime himself, once upon a time, James says: “I can now see the technology that will reduce counterparty risk between certain buyers and sellers.” The Bank of England certainly stood him in good stead.  Although there were ‘many nebulous concepts to get to grips with’ it nurtured his innate curiosity and was ‘a very reputable place from which to analyse the industry, without overly committing to any one particular specialism’.

Ed Pashley, an ex-SNCO with the Rifles, works at Virgin Money as a Financial Analyst. He was particularly struck by the opportunities and ability to progress within the organisation. He says: “In the Army, opportunities tend to be dictated by rank but here, there is a whole new vista to explore.”

A great example of what can be achieved from the FDM’s EX-Forces Programme, Ed was granted a three month temporary position as team leader of mobile apps, which led to six months within sales and marketing. The FDM’s EX-Forces Programme offered training on core disciplines within IT and where there was a demand at Virgin Money for someone who could combine IT knowledge with softer skills to drive improvement, it seemed only fitting that Ed be named the chosen man for the job. He moved again within nine months in IT. He says: “There is far more scope in a larger organisation, if you want a new challenge there are opportunities to move.”

As one of the first women to be promoted to Commander after the Royal Navy disbanded the WRNS, Rachel Scandling’s professional achievements within the Services are more than evident.

Financial Services did not exactly jump out at Rachel to begin with; it wasn’t an area she saw herself in but she was desperate to escape her comfort zone within the Navy and take ‘a running jump into the unknown.’ As Rachel researched the sector further, she spent some time discussing transition with the Barclays AFTER programme team and began to realise that it presented many more opportunities than initially anticipated.

Rachel says: “I had no idea of the scope of the roles, or the suite of services provided by a truly global bank.”   When she took on her first role as a project manager, she was working on structural reform, specifically managing a US Treasury Government Bonds project. Although she knew nothing about this topic, she did know how to manage a project, manage budgets, manage risk and manage resources as well as engage with stakeholders and ultimately ‘get stuff done’.

Settled in her new role as Strategy and Optimisation Lead, Rachel’s aim is to optimise Global Markets operations across the investment bank. She adds:  “Again, I knew little about the operations of an investment bank when I joined the team, but I have focused on building my relationships with stakeholders, growing my wider network and developing my technical skills through an outstanding internal training programme.”

Abridged from Pathfinder May 2017

Rachel Scandling: Let your curiosity lead the way