A position in operation and strategy consulting in the financial industry
Dear Career Doctor,
I would like to go for a career in operation and strategy consulting related to financial industry and would like to know the best step forward. (e.g.
what company to go for and how?)
I graduated from a well known university in HK 4 years ago and since then work in auditing (big 4 firm), Finance and IT (a small company) and have tried to start a business with friends (finally does not start due to financial reasons).
I am currently working on a contract basis in the Finance department of an insurance company helping on system revamp.
I understand my resume looks jumpy but now I am determined to go for FI operation and strategy consulting. I have completed the HKICPA exams and hopefully will be qualified by Sep. I have also passed all 3 levels of CFA and have excellent Excel, VBA, SQL and some financial modeling skills.
What could be my step forward.(e.g. what company to go for and how?)
Thanks a lot in advance.
Posted Wednesday 27th November 2013 05:37:34 AM
Dear Career Doctor, I graduated with a degree in business in a reputable university overseas last year. I majored in HR and marketing. After graduating, I took up a role in a financial services firm in client services. With little interest in their services, I left the job after 3 months and secured a 3-month graduate internship in human resources. The job went well and I liked it. The firm offered me a permanent role by the end of my 2nd month. However, I turned down the offer and left the role because the offer was below market rate. At the same time when they offered me the permanent role, I got another offer from a branding agency. I accepted their offer instead and have worked with them for 3 months now. I am enjoying the work. Yet, it is a small branding company in Hong Kong. Even though it has operations around the world, I am worried that the exposure I gain here may not enable me to progress fast and may fall behind when compared to other recent graduates. I know that my resume looks jumpy and I should not look for another job in a short while. However, a marketing role from one of my favorite companies is now accepting applications (a management trainee position). The job function is appealing and I am very interested in the services that the company provides. I am struggling if I should apply. As it is with a reputable company, the role offers great exposure and attractive package. At the same time, as it is a management trainee position, if I missed the opportunity this year, I will not be qualified to apply next year (they only accept applications from recent graduates). The interview procedure is lengthy, so by the time all stages of the interviews finish, I would have stayed in my current role for 8 months at least. Should I take another move again and apply the position?
Desperate Job seeker
Posted Saturday 22nd September 2012 04:17:00 PM
Dear Louisa, Thanks a lot for your detailed reply. Below are my further questions: (sorry this may be a bit long) 1) Short-Term Action My manager is negotiating the budget for an extension or conversion to permanent for me. I have also been searching for internal roles on strategy and operation. Nevertheless, the contract will end by the end of this year and it all depends on the budget. To play safe, I have begun searching for jobs. Given the tough market right now, what advices (e.g. types of role/company) would you give? For example, if there is a permanent opportunity with a non-FI company or non- strategy and operation role, would you recommend me to try? 2) Negative impact of CFA on my CV Will the completion of CFA exams have negative effect on my CV as many employers seem to think it is not relevant to my career goal and will think I am not focused? (People always think this exam is for investment/research role) The reason I took it is because I think strategy and operation consulting is very board and includes strategy, operations, research, financial modelling and IT strategy and CFA will help especially in the FI sector. 3) Further education I am thinking of pursuing further education. What is your suggestion given my career goal? Is PMP or FRM suitable? 4) Long term In my current role I have the opportunity to expose to different departments and the entire operation of the company as the project re-engineers almost the whole operation. I also try hard to keep myself abreast of industry development like Solvency II, Basel III and industry news. a) To be a consultant, is it better to focus on one type of FI companies (e.g. insurance company) before breaching to others? b) What networking channels could I employ to help? c) Are there any other things I can do to accelerate my path to my final goal? Thank you very much again for your assistance and patience. I look forward to your professional advice. Regards, Career Seeker
Louisa Yeung - Career Doctor
Posted Wednesday 12th September 2012 11:35:00 PM
Hi, You said that you are looking for a career in Financial Institutions (FI) so firstly, we need to define FI. In broader terms, FI includes deposit taking companies, banks, insurance companies, pension funds, investment banks, etc. Considering this, as you are working on a contract basis in the finance department of an insurance firm you are already on the right track — congratulations! However, I understand there is still a gap between working on system revamps and operation and strategy consulting; therefore you will need to take a few small steps before you can reach your final destination. As I have always said in this column, building a long term career takes time and no one can do it overnight. You have an excellent CV — qualified accountant, passed three levels in the CFA exam, well versed in different system software and financial modeling. You are also definitely in a very good position because you are already working within the FI area. So, if you do a fantastic job in your current role you can build your experience and knowledge of the sector to move into an operation and strategy consultation role later. It’s also important that you don’t just think of your current position as a contract role. I have seen a lot of employers, especially large, reputable organisations appoint contract employees into a permanent position. You can also explore internal operation and strategy consulting roles in your current company and apply for them via HR or network and form relationships with the key decision makers (i.e. the manager of the department you want to transfer to). If you can obtain a role with your current employer and spend some time in that position, you can then look at branching off into other firms within the FI sector. With a proven track record in the industry, you should find it easy to move around within the FI sector. Best of luck with your career and if you have any other queries, please leave a comment below. Regards, Louisa.