Secrets to success

Top tips from sector professionals on where to start and how to get ahead early in your career
by Lauren Johnson, CISI copywriter

study tips - 1920

When it comes to progressing our careers, we can be self-centred in our approach. We think about what additional responsibility we can take on, how many more hours we should work or what other projects we should lead on. We may think this is the best way to get promoted, but one professional turns this idea on its head. 

Jane is one of the many inspirational figures in the financial services sector who we’ve had the pleasure of speaking to over the past few years. We usually ask our interviewees to pass on any top tips they may have learned for the benefit of younger members, or those looking to change or advance their careers. Here we’ve collated a few. 

Jane Fuller FCSI(Hon), director at Fuller Analysis

In 2020 Jane was awarded a CISI Honorary Fellowship for her contribution to financial services, which included 19 years at the Financial Times. She reveals to The Review a particularly useful tip for those who are trying to advance in the financial services sector: “Focus on the customers, not on your own career”. 

Jane used chances to learn early on by doing an eight-week training course during her first role in journalism, for example. “Take advantage of any training opportunities. ... There is no such thing as a stupid question – if you don’t know or understand, ask. Live by the motto: ‘Without fear or favour’.”

he-hamid-alzaabi - 300Hamid Al Zaabi, director general of the United Arab Emirates executive office for Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism

Hamid, who we spoke to about his experience in financial law enforcement, agrees with Jane and others that asking questions is an important thing to do, especially when you are new to a profession or industry. He provides an employer’s perspective, saying that he looks for new recruits who have an ‘inquisitive mind’ as they are willing to do more to further their learning and contribution to the role. He also acknowledges that everyone has a different journey. “Follow your passion with determination, that’s the best way to succeed.”

Thalia Chryssikou, partner at Goldman Sachs

Many of us think progression is linear, but this is not always the case says Thalia, who we spoke to about dealing with adversity in the sector. Her advice: “Enjoy what you do, give back, have grit, realise it's not going to be a straight line because it never is, right? And handle disappointment as constructively as you handle the successes."

Criticism and setbacks are as much a part of the journey as praise and promotion. The ability to adapt during difficult times can be the difference between performing well and performing excellently.

Noel Maye, former chief executive of the Financial Planning Standards Board (FPSB)

You may find dealing with difficulties much easier when you care about your work – a point that Noel made in an interview with us where we learned about his journey to becoming the chief executive of the FPSB: “Whether it’s to young financial planners, or to people like my nephew and nieces launching into nursing, veterinary and teaching careers, my advice would be the same – figure out what you love to do and do that, even if lots of people are telling you it’s not the right thing to do. Find something you care about, work hard at it, be a force for good in the world, and you'll have an amazing career and a rewarding life.”

Sir Jon Cunliffe, deputy governor for financial stability at the Bank of England

Finally, curiosity will get you far, says Sir Jon Cunliffe, who we featured in our February 2021 print edition of The Review. “The most important thing is to be curious and to learn. The world has moved, quite rightly, towards professionalism and training, but human beings have the ability to learn and to translate skills from one area into another. If you are curious and have the will to learn you can take the skills learnt in your professional training and apply them elsewhere.” 

Further, you shouldn’t limit yourself by focusing on just a few skills specific to one role. "Don’t just have narrow, vertical ambitions, have broad ambitions and take opportunities. That will take you into new areas where you can develop your career. I would say that, given my CV, but there is a benefit in people having a range of experience where they can bring different perspectives and experiences into play – and you need a mix of the two." 

You can follow advice from sector professionals with our range of learning materials to help you develop your skills and broaden your knowledge. You can watch talks with sector specialists about current concerns in financial services on CISI TV. Additionally, sign up for our mentoring scheme to be paired with a mentor who can guide you through your career journey.  

Published: 13 Apr 2023
  • Training, Competence and Culture
  • advice
  • YPN
  • young professionals
  • tips
  • professionals
  • financial services

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