The attitude to succeed in financial services

Having a positive attitude is vital to being successful in financial services, something which can be said of many careers, but getting results for your employer and for yourself in finance requires nothing less than an exceptional attitude. To be passionate and focused;  resilient and adaptable and above all decisive in your daily working life will help you go further and increase your standing within any organisation.

Demonstrating your determination from day zero

Some people decide that they want to go into finance at a young age; successful attitude finance industrywhile others enter the profession from a variety of different backgrounds having gained experience elsewhere. A career in financial services provides some unique challenges. Commercial finance requires an intrinsic understanding of different industries and the associated risks and carries with it a need to be flexible and agile. Finance is also very much about cohesion and working as a team, every part of the organisation influences and in turn relies upon the efforts of multiple departments, from Credit through to New Business Administration. Everyone needs to be determined to move in the same direction to accomplish the overall goals.

Wesleyan Bank’s staff work together across three sites; each employee has followed a slightly different path and has their own story to tell. So we asked some of them to do just that and share their experience of working together in this way, but also to share their tips and advice about the attitude needed, to not only survive in finance, but to flourish.

Excelling in finance

Some people embark on a career in finance and leasing at a young age, and learn about the intricacies ‘on the job’. In contrast, others only join after gaining considerable experience elsewhere, both sorts of people bring with them unique perspectives. But from changing regulation to the acceleration of technology, the needs of clients in the financial services industry can be varied which provides its own set of challenges.

Commercial finance requires an ability to adapt to clients’ bespoke requirements and identify tailored solutions which can support their business’ short-term and long-term goals. This could range from asset finance solutions to support an investment in the latest technology or an acquisition of another business to strengthen their competitive advantage, or even short-term cashflow centric products to spread the cost of tax liabilities or unexpected expenditures.

Being able to adapt to different approaches, scenarios and understanding a client’s position is key.  This means staying open to new ideas, information so you can learn about different industries and understand different risks. Finance is also very much about cohesion and working as a team, every part of the organisation influences and in turn relies upon the efforts of other departments.

Finance is extremely competitive, fast paced and demanding so remaining calm and fleet-footed under pressure is invaluable, particularly when it comes to managing the expectations of others.

Knowing what you want when opportunity knocks

Being decisive is decisive when it comes to being picked for an important job or opportunity. Sometimes it’s easier to delay making a decision than it is to make the decision there and then. Unfortunately this means that sometimes the opportunity can pass you by if you are indecisive. Laura O’Connell, Commercial Account Manager, joined Wesleyan Bank in 2016 from another financial provider highlights the importance of decisiveness: “if you’re thinking about a career in finance or applying for a new role then don’t be afraid to go for it. You won’t know if you will like something until you try and employers will want you to clearly explain the reasons for your decision [to apply].  You just have to remember to take one step at a time.”

Companies will look at your CV and want to understand your qualifications and your relevant experience, of course, but also who you are, your interests and how you work with others. Employers will often read between the lines so be careful what your CV says about you. Words like “enthusiastic” could be interpreted as inexperienced and “thoughtful” perceived as a daydreamer or someone who is a walkover. Explaining clearly what you want to get across and who you are will form part of their assessment of your communication skills.

HR is a department that sees lots of applications. Our very own HR Operations expert Juana Leacock an experienced HR professional in her own right expanded on this, that “growing quickly we value people who have are flexible in their approach and have the ability to put the customer first as well as being accountable and focused on delivering tangible results”.

Your attitude when in your daily working environment plays a big part as to how others see your performance. Being adaptable and having an ability to take on new tasks and disciplines is important. Carl Hodgetts, Application Support Manager at Wesleyan Bank, recently moved into a new role and talked to us about this experience and his philosophy, “it’s important to understand the technical and analytical requirements but at the same time always remain customer-focused”

Most thought leaders agree that contentment at work is something that is beneficial on an individual, departmental and organisational level. Being proactive tends to help boost career opportunities in finance even more so than other industries. Happiness at work can lead to enhanced performance and productivity levels as well as greater energy, better reviews and is more likely to result in promotion or quicker exposure to exciting opportunities[1].

Paul Slapa, Head of Direct Sales, added “If you concentrate on developing your skill set, learn to accept feedback, and on occasion criticism, then opportunities will present themselves to you.”

Progressing, both individually and as an organisation, is about challenging yourself to do better: staying up-to-date and actively seeking out opportunities to improve the way things are done. Paul agreed that “as an industry we are often slow to adapt to change – for example, we haven’t really embraced some of the advancements in technology. So you should always be prepared to challenge upwards; to challenge the status quo, but be prepared to accept that you won’t always be right. Equally be prepared to listen to others. I accept that I could learn as much from a young graduate who has never worked in leasing, as I do from a 20 year industry veteran.”

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[1] SOURCE “Happiness at work is closely correlated with greater performance and productivity as well as greater energy, better reviews, faster promotion, higher income, better health and increased happiness with life. So it’s good for organizations and individuals, too.”