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How to develop a career in banking and finance

22 October, 2021Gordon Reid

Every area of the finance sector is rapidly evolving – offering more opportunities to progress and learn. But how can you plan effective professional development? And what should you consider? Gordon Reid sets out his three-step plan.

Car lights on a winding roadChange brings opportunity. By developing your professionalism and skills, you’ll be in a good position to seize that opportunity.

This three-step approach will help you progress – whether you want to do better in your current role, move into a new advice area or embrace a challenge.

1. Work out what you need to achieve

Look at successful individuals in the role you’d like to get to and ask yourself what they have that you don’t. Is it a qualification, a skill you need to develop or perhaps a working method you’ve not tried?

Even if you’re happy where you are, you need to consider your continuing professional development (CPD) because the industry – and the roles within it – are always evolving. 

Where are the gaps in your knowledge? And how can you upskill?

2. Prioritise your development needs

The next step is to think about prioritising your learning. That means pinning down detail. Ask yourself:

  • what’s the biggest gap in my knowledge or experience?
  • which learning would make the biggest difference to my working life or future career?
  • what am I most passionate about developing?
  • what do I have time for?

The answers to these questions, will help you spend your time on worthwhile development that you can commit to and that will help you progress.

3. Identify what you need to learn – and how

Now you’ve prioritised your development needs, you need to identify the best learning solutions.

We all learn in different ways. You may have one preferred learning style or you may find that combining two or three methods works best for you. In any case, if you understand how you absorb information most effectively, you’ll make better decisions about your professional development.

To get a better idea of how you learn best, ask yourself:

  • will I benefit from shadowing someone skilled in the area I want to learn?
  • how can I make the most of feedback from my colleagues?
  • do I learn by reading and then applying theory in practical situations?
  • am I an audio-visual learner? How much do I absorb from videos and podcasts?
  • is a group workshop or one-to-one coaching session what I need?

Knowing your learning style can help you organise your CPD time so that you get the most out of it. It will help you decide whether to prioritise podcasts and webinars, for example.

If you’re considering a qualification, it’s worth looking at the materials that come with it and the platform it’s hosted on. Will the study materials be enough or should you consider additional learning materials? Perhaps you’d prefer to have someone to guide you through the syllabus, through a tuition video or even a live workshop.

Once you’ve completed this three-step approach, you’ll be better placed to research CPD activities and qualifications and to make the most of opportunities for development in your day-to-day role.

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