Career story: becoming Chartered in Banking through the PER

20 September, 2021James Hobbs

If you're a banking professional with over ten years of industry experience, you can now achieve chartered status with our new Professional Experiential Route (PER). James Hobbs, Senior Digital Portfolio Manager at HSBC, shares his experience of studying and learning by reflecting on his own career.

James HobbsHaving completed several qualifications, I was considering the next step on my journey to chartered. I was about to start the Advanced Diploma when a conversation kicked off about going through the Professional Experiential Route (PER) route.

A bit naively I thought that writing four essays about the things I’ve done would be easier than sitting more exams.

Spoiler: it isn’t!

Not only do you need to reflect on years of experience, but you also need to frame everything academically – to demonstrate the same level of understanding as required by exam-based qualifications.

What makes the PER  different to other professional courses?

It’s more self-directed. No one hands you a textbook with all of the material and answers. There is a much greater requirement to be self-motivated and to proactively look for information.

That said, the course signposts a wealth of material to read and lists learning outcomes and topics.  

The process has been stimulating. You need to plan how you are going to learn and what you are going to spend time thinking about and researching.

The PER was my first experience of using ‘reflective practice’. That forced me to consider the catalysts in my career – an article I read, an event at work, a conversation with a colleague – and the decisions they prompted me to take.

What I hadn’t expected was that so much of my professional memory and experience was not only practical, ‘I did…’, and academic, ‘I learnt…’, but also emotional, ‘I felt…’. There was my pride in my work but also, with hindsight, a sense of naivety.

That careful reflection, alongside my further reading, has given me a sense of where I am in my career – armed with plenty of knowledge but with lots of room to learn more.

How has PER changed the way you work? 

When I’m working, I can become engrossed in the moment – what am I trying to achieve now? How do we get from A to B?

The PER has made me reflect more on the spirit of a task. It has also made me check my own ignorance  – what don’t I know that might result in a different decision?

How did you juggle study with full-time work?

I went into it a bit naively! I was used to structured, traditional study where there are modules and the work is presented clearly, in a largely linear fashion.

The PER is more free-flow. You have four essays to write, but a whole host of options in terms of focus and lots of different places where you could start.

You’re not left to sink or swim, however, and I owe a big thank you to Rachel Banfield, my tutor. Early on we talked through the topics I might write on based on my experiences and areas of focus. She signposted further reading and practical examples of reflective practice.

In terms of cramming it all in, I found a bit of time in the evening and weekends to read and write.

What advice would you give to others embarking on the PER?

Plan better! And start typing.

I spent a lot of time thinking about the ‘perfect’ examples and throwing around lots of ideas. But I found once I actually started writing, the ideas took shape and became further refined in editing.

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