Oct 9, 2015

This is the first of a two-part article about the experience of a consultant at their 3-month anniversary of starting in financial services compared to a consultant who has reached their 3-year anniversary. Despite there appearing to be a big difference between someone with three months experience versus three years experience, we have found there to be many similarities. Among these similarities are making a positive first impression; being investigative; communicating clearly; building relationships; understanding how those around you influence you; and having confidence that you can influence change. This article describes the experience of two consultants at their 3-month anniversary.

As recent graduates, it can be rather daunting starting a career in financial services. However, we have found that, alongside the nerves, comes the excitement of a new role in a fast paced and lively environment. Although everyone has had different experiences in their first job, there are common obstacles we all face which we can learn from. From experience, we have learnt that first impressions really do count. Impressions are formed in the first 30 seconds of meeting somebody, both our impression of the person and their impression of us. Sometimes we only have 30 seconds with that person and this is what they will remember until the next time they see us, which could be some time. We have learnt the importance of leaving a positive and memorable first impression. Ultimately, these are the people we will be working alongside and forming relationships with today and in the future.

Having started the role, we found we were not expected to know everything on day one, even though we thought we should. You often have to wait a few weeks in order to get logins and all the necessary system access to be fully on-boarded. We took advantage of this ‘soft launch’ by proactively reading, asking questions and listening to colleagues, increasing our knowledge about the role and the broader financial services industry. It also provided the time to learn the new language of the office – the acronyms and abbreviations!!

The first few weeks felt rather quiet compared to what we had imagined, however, this quickly changed. Once we had all the logins and access it became clear that we had the opportunity to really get immersed in the roles that we were performing. Surprisingly, what we thought would be a rather strict, unreceptive environment turned out to be completely the opposite. We felt comfortable from the outset and were made to feel part of the team. At no time did we feel uneasy when asking questions – even as fresh graduates with little practical experience – colleagues were willing to take time out of their days to aid our progression. We learnt quickly that colleagues enjoyed talking about what they do – and we enjoyed listening to them as it increased our knowledge much faster.

We are now expected to carry out day-to-day tasks as if we had been part of the team for months. We fully involve ourselves in team meetings, by asking questions and actively contributing.  Surprisingly, our input is really valued by the team leader and other members of the team, giving us more confidence to get even more involved.

However, being fully settled in involves taking initiative. Contacting colleagues in other departments has become a regular part of our role. Understanding what we do in relation to what people do in other parts of the process, before and after us, is critical.  It helps us spot issues or notify others issues are coming, both of which make performing our roles easier and more interesting. We now fully understand the vital importance of being able to explain and communicate clearly to whomever we are speaking to. By this stage we feel comfortable on client site, but ensure to maintain the same level of professionalism as we did at the start.

In the future, we would like to specialize in a particular area within financial services, ideally one we enjoy and can play an effective role in. Gaining experience in a number of different areas, departments and roles, and learning as much as possible in the coming years, will allow us to become SMEs (subject matter experts) and understand how an organization fits together. This will allow us to make an informed decision as to where to focus for the rest of our careers.

Roles within the financial services industry demand hard work and a committed attitude, which can be stressful at times. However, we have thoroughly enjoyed our first three months and have gained a tremendous amount of knowledge already by immersing ourselves and working hard. At the same time, the social side is fun, allowing us to build strong relationships and a network with like-minded consultants sharing our experiences, listening to their experiences and feeling part of an even bigger team. Although the social side is out of office hours and office hours are already very long, it gives us useful insight into where we could see ourselves in the future. We are looking forward to seeing how we evolve and also reading how a consultant has evolved as they reached their 3-year anniversary in the next part of the series.