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Boost your chances of getting a top financial position with these tips

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Boost your chances of getting a top financial position with these tips 1

It will come as no surprise to most of us in the financial services sector that the uncertainty of Brexit has put a dampener on new job opportunities, with many firms favouring increasingly cautious hiring policies. So how can you stand out from the crowd and secure your ideal role? Chris Stappard, Managing Director at Edward Reed Recruitment, shared what recruiters and employers are looking for in this difficult employment market.

There can be little doubt that it’s currently a tough employment market for the financial services sector. Amid the turmoil of Brexit, new vacancies dropped 39% in 2018, according to research published in the Independent, making competition for top roles fiercer than ever before.

While there might be less opportunities, the good news is that many companies are still looking for top talent where it counts: they just have higher expectations than ever before. And, employers are willing to offer excellent incentives to find the best hires, with firms offering 21% higher pay packages to the right candidate (Independent).

In such a tough employment landscape, you need to demonstrate a varied skill set, stellar interpersonal skills, and highly relevant experience. Here, I’ll tell you how you can boost your chances of getting a top financial role.

Interpersonal skills are key in all roles

It used to be the case that many financial roles required less in the way of interpersonal skills. As long as you had the analytical ability and the qualifications and experience to back it up, communicative skills were put on the backburner, or seen as a mere bonus. But these days, companies are looking for the whole package — particularly at senior or middle management level.

Employers want someone who can project a great image of the company in all interactions and build excellent relationships with clients. This can really make or break your application: when looking at two equally qualified candidates, it’s very likely that recruiters and employers will go for the candidate with stellar interpersonal skills. It’s all a matter of ‘faking it until you make it’ — particularly at the interview stage.

While many people assume that great interpersonal skills are something that can’t be taught, there’s certainly a lot you can do to improve them. Putting yourself out there and attending seminars and networking events can work wonders for your confidence, as can volunteering for more hands-on client-facing work in your current role.

Show your skillset in action during interviews

During the one-on-one interview stage, employers want to test how relevant your qualifications and skills are to the role you’re applying for, so try to be as specific as possible. Instead of speaking in broad terms, use the STAR method (situation, task, action, result) to demonstrate how your skills work in practice.

For instance, instead of just claiming you have strong analytical ability or can work well under pressure, give a specific example. Explain the situation, describe the problem, and then tell the interviewer how your skills were able to solve it. Remember to detail what the outcome was, and how your action benefitted your employer.

One of the best ways to excel at job interviews is to attend as many as you possibly can. Apply for jobs that you may not want to take, or don’t think you stand any chance of getting, and let the interview process be a chance to practice and refine your skills. This can work wonders for your confidence and technique, and you never know — it could lead to a fantastic role you never dreamed you’d land.

Prepare for group interviews and practical assessments

More and more often, recruiters and HR teams are using group interviews and practical competency tests to screen out the best candidates. You might be asked to solve a problem as a team, or collaborate together on a project or pitch. This is more than a test of your skills and qualifications (although these are important, of course). It’s a chance to see how you work as a team, how well you communicate, and whether you can think on the spot in a fast-moving group situation.

Be warned, impressing during a group interview isn’t just about being overconfident and talking non-stop. You won’t score any points for dominating the conversation and talking over the other candidates. Instead, it’s all about showing you can collaborate and communicate effectively and respectfully. You can practice this in your current role — treat each day as if you were being screened for a new role and watch your skills improve.

Refine your CV

If you struggle to make it even to the interview stage, chances are your CV needs work. Remember, your CV shouldn’t be an exhaustive documentation of every career move and success you’ve ever had: it should be a focused highlight reel, demonstrating only the skills and experience that are relevant to the job at hand. You want to pique the employer’s interest enough that they’ll invite you to an interview.

If possible, it can help to ask someone who is already in a senior role, or who works in recruitment and HR, to look at your resume and offer some constructive feedback. There are also professional vetting services who will look at it for you for a fee.

Get additional qualifications

Even if you already have a relevant degree, chances are, you’ll be competing against a sea of other candidates who are similarly qualified, and may have more experience with a particular field or software. That’s why it can help to get an additional, specialist credential. If listings for the job you’re interested in keep specifying that a particular software or skill is ‘desirable’, then take a course or qualification and get up to speed. This will really set you apart.

A high-level career in the financial services sector takes more than a degree qualification and a few years of experience: you need to prove that you’re a brilliant all-rounder and that you have highly relevant experience. Use the tips I’ve shared here to refine your CV, impress during an interview, and give yourself a competitive advantage in this tumultuous employment market. 

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Research exposes the £68.8 billion opportunity for UK retailers

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Research exposes the £68.8 billion opportunity for UK retailers 2
  • Modelling shows increasing the proportion of online sales by 5 percentage points would have significantly boosted retailers’ revenues during the first lockdown
  • 72% of Brits want retailers who started an online service during the pandemic to continue operating it full time

New data released today by global payments platform Adyen, outlines the economic gains that could be accessed by getting more UK retailers online.

Economic modelling conducted by Cebr for Adyen indicates that if the retail sector increased the proportion of turnover stemming from online channels by 5 percentage points, £68.8 billion would have been added to the economy during the first lockdown.

While retail turnover stemming from online sales has grown significantly during 2020 – from 19% to 28%[1], there is still considerable room for growth.

Myles Dawson, UK Managing Director of Adyen comments: “The UK retail sector is facing an incredibly tough quarter, so creating the link between physical stores and online channels is more important than ever. With the festive period approaching and many shoppers unable, or uncomfortable leaving their homes, establishing and maintaining a positive online experience is a billion-pound opportunity for retailers.”

The research[2] of 2,000 UK consumers found that 31% are less likely to shop in physical stores now because of positive experiences shopping online during the pandemic. Furthermore, 72% of these consumers want retailers who started an online service during the pandemic to continue operating it in the long term.

However, making the process of shopping online as frictionless as possible will be key to unlocking the opportunity presented by online channels. 70% of Brits say that when shopping online, the ease of use is as important as the quality of the product, and 72% won’t shop with a retailer whose website or app is difficult to navigate.

Myles Dawson concludes: “Many retailers did amazing things during the pandemic in terms of adapting and creating new experiences – it’s a testimony to their agility that 57% of Brits said their expectations of the retail sector has improved during the pandemic. The challenge now is to consistently meet these expectations going forward. With local lockdowns in place, online channels will be key to serving many consumers in the short term. However, retailers need to see the shift to unified commerce as a long-term trend. The sooner they can demonstrate agility and jump on board, the longer they’ll reap the rewards.”

[1] https://www.ons.gov.uk/businessindustryandtrade/retailindustry/bulletins/retailsales/august2020

2 Research conducted by Opinium Research LLP

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Want to serve your customers better? An effective online strategy is what financial institutions need 

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Want to serve your customers better? An effective online strategy is what financial institutions need  3

By Anna Willems, Marketing Director, Mention

A strong online presence matters.

Having a strong online presence, that involves social media is now a crucial part of all business strategies. Whether they are retail brands, sports teams, libraries or even restaurants, most companies are investing more and more in developing their digital brand image and online presence – financial institutions are no exception.

When it comes to market trends and innovation, financial institutions are first on the line. After all, we — people and companies — trust them to manage our money to the best of their abilities. And even more so than any other market, we demand secure, trustworthy, fast and user-friendly services.

Reaching such high expectations is not a given. To this point, banks and other financial institutions have no other choice but to have a perfect understanding of their market, their audience, and their needs. What they need to get there is a fail-proof online strategy.

Gaining a deep understanding of your market

One of the best things about using social media to learn about your audience is that people give unsolicited opinions. They speak their mind and share their thoughts candidly.

This is the key to help any business to learn about themselves. They get to analyze their audience’s challenges and aspirations without having to ask them directly or serve them time-consuming surveys and polls.

UK-based Asto, a company that is part of the Santander Group, is committed to helping small businesses have access to financial and non-financial tools. Asto was looking for something that could help them discover what their target audience was talking about and find opportunities to add to the conversation. Mention enabled Asto to keep on top of reviews and customer comments, which has helped us provide a better service for our customers.

Which platform suits your offering the best?

There’s no point choosing to create campaigns on TikTok if your customers don’t use it – you need to think about who they are and work back from there.

You do this by automating the process using a social listening tool. A social listening tool will help you to view your market as a whole and identify where the key conversations are happening — and, therefore, where you should be. What’s more, you will never miss any relevant mention of your institutions, products, services, or competitors.

Handling a crisis

Financial institutions need to watch carefully for negative press – social media is the first place people will go to if they feel they’re not getting the service they need. In theory, rogue employees or unhappy clients can post anything they like online to try and hurt your brand. And if their messages gain traction, you’ve gone from one person saying bad things, to thousands.

That’s why listening needs to be part of any crisis management plan. Now, sometimes, there are crises you cannot prevent. And those usually hit pretty hard.

Power of influencers

For an influencer marketing campaign to work for your financial institution, partnering with nano content creators may well be the best way to go. They’re ability to play a part in how they shape your brand story can make a huge difference when it comes to engagement and reason to believe in your service.

Many financial institutions are already leveraging influencer marketing. It’s an efficient strategy to: Build trust and gain credibility, reach out to new audiences and share engaging stories.

The online review conundrum

94% of consumers check online reviews before they decide to buy something or subscribe to a service. They need what we call social proof. It says that the more people say they use your service, the more it will look like a good service. In short, you need to show how happy people are using your service. But not all online reviews are positive.

Having said that, we find that financial institutions shouldn’t ignore negative reviews. Instead, embrace them as an opportunity to rebuild trust in your brand. Less delicately put, take the bull by the horns and turn them to your advantage. Always respond to relevant complaints (and as fast as possible). Take responsibility for what happened. Be helpful.

And ignore trolls.

Learn from the competition

Over the last two decades, a marketer’s daily life has greatly evolved. Most importantly, we now can measure everything we do, including the consequences of our actions on our business. Having said that, you can’t evaluate how well you’re doing without comparing against

others.

Truth is that 77% of businesses rely on listening to keep an eye on their competitors. What this means is that 4 in 5 of your direct competitors are likely watching each and every single step you take. And you should do the same.

Setting the trend

From staying up to date with the latest industry trends and innovations, to keeping an eye on the competitors’ newest services, to being the first to know of potential brand crises – tracking relevant online conversations lets marketing and communication professionals working for financial institutions to stay one step ahead in an industry that is leading change and innovation.

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Why the Boom is Long Overdue (and Here to Stay)

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Why the Boom is Long Overdue (and Here to Stay) 4

By Roger James Hamilton, CEO, Genius Group

Virtually every aspect of our lives has been taken over by tech, so why is it that our schools, that are educating the business leaders of tomorrow, are still operating in much the same format as they did 100 years ago?

The global pandemic put digital learning in the spotlight and an Edtech boom has ensued, with companies like Coursera, Quizlet and Udemy seeing unicorn style growth. And the market is not slowing down. The education technology (Edtech) boom will continue.

Resilience and Growth

Unicorns are defined by rapid growth. Traditionally, these companies are not overly concerned with early profitability, long-term sustainability or value creation as much as with putting their competitors out of business.

But something different is going on in the Edtech market. The unicorn has lost its appeal. When learning platform Quizlet achieved unicorn status this year, CEO Matthew Glotzbach was keen to play down the moniker reserved for start-ups valued at $1 billion or more, preferring to liken his company to a camel.

Unlike unicorns, camels are real, hardworking beasts. Respected for their adaptability to various climates, resilience, and abilities to survive for long periods without sustenance. These are all traits much better suited to weather the economic storms created by the pandemic.

Despite their considerable abilities to adapt to challenging conditions, the climate is looking particularly sunny for camels within the Edtech market. In fact, all creatures great and small have the potential to capitalise on unprecedented growth in this sector.

The nature of education makes it a traditionally slow-moving area, which renders it unattractive to some investors. Yet, the coronavirus outbreak and subsequent surge in remote learning this year triggered a flurry of uptake in e-learning platforms.

We’ve seen the adoption rate for new technologies be accelerated by events like this before. For example, the SARS crisis of 2003 contributed to the boom in China’s ecommerce industry, as quarantines lead consumers to shop online. Of course, this market trend did not slow down once quarantine restrictions were lifted. Ever since, global online sales have risen exponentially. The same is set to happen in the Edtech market.

Providing a Solution

As with ecommerce in 2003, the demand for Edtech in 2020 was already there. It has been there for years. For the past decade at least, there has been a notable need in recruitment for qualified talent in data science, coding and digital. Edtech can bridge the skills gap, not only within formal education but also for adult learners upskilling and reskilling for today’s digital world.

Similarly, the financial crash of 2008 had the effect of fast-tracking the rise of the gig economy, requiring millions more to learn entrepreneurial skills. The idea of a job for life is now a distant memory. The Edtech sector can deliver the tools to equip students of all ages with the skills necessary for creating their own opportunities, as well as exchanging knowledge and collaborating in a digital economy.

Rising unemployment, as well as competition for jobs and government furlough schemes has seen interest in digital learning courses for adults also soar during the past few months. Figures show that the corporate e-learning market is set to increase by as much as $3.09 billion between 2020 and 2024.

Roger James Hamilton

Roger James Hamilton

The Edtech boom kickstarted by the pandemic is just the beginning in a paradigm shift in how we view education and work.

Over the next 10 years, with the rise of artificial intelligence, automated technology, and augmented reality, traditional, manual and customer service based roles will diminish and there will be less need for a large workforce when computers and machines can do the role equally well.

The need for a truly 21st century education system that reflects the needs of the job market is long overdue. Edtech companies are offering solutions to many of these issues that have troubled the economy for the past decade or more.

A Different Animal

Enter the zebra (back to our animal analogies). These types of Edtech businesses will be the ones to watch within the sector. With zebra companies, there’s a sense of community and collaboration, rather than competition. They understand that there’s room for more than one superstar in a market. Zebras are herd animals after all. The zebra believes that competition is healthy for everyone involved—something to watch and use for motivation and growth. It closely observes consumer trends and continually strives to solve new and developing problems for those consumers.

For zebra companies, profit margin is vital because it is necessary for steady growth and sustainability. Revenues hover between $5M and $50M, it serves customers within a specific niche, requires annual growth capital of $100K to $1M, and generally has more than four streams of revenue.

Zebras are both black with white stripes and white with black stripes – they have a fluidity in their approach and are camouflaged at the same time. This creates a double bottom line: Zebras want to conduct real business, by solving a pressing problem in a sustainable way, whilst reacting to contemporary challenges. This too could be said of the Edtech industry as a whole.

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