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.
UK delays review of business rates tax until autumn
LONDON (Reuters) – Britain’s finance ministry said it would delay publication of its review of business rates – a tax paid by companies based on the value of the property they occupy – until the autumn when the economic outlook should be clearer.
Many companies are demanding reductions in their business rates to help them compete with online retailers.
“Due to the ongoing and wide-ranging impacts of the pandemic and economic uncertainty, the government said the review’s final report would be released later in the year when there is more clarity on the long-term state of the economy and the public finances,” the ministry said.
Finance minister Rishi Sunak has granted a temporary business rates exemption to companies in the retail, hospitality, and leisure sectors, costing over 10 billion pounds ($14 billion). Sunak is due to announce his next round of support measures for the economy on March 3.
($1 = 0.7152 pounds)
(Writing by William Schomberg, editing by David Milliken)
Discounter Pepco has all of Europe in its sights
By James Davey
LONDON (Reuters) – Pepco Group, which owns British discount retailer Poundland, has targeted 400 store openings across Europe in its 2020-21 financial year as it expands its PEPCO brand beyond central and eastern Europe, its boss said on Friday.
The group opened a net 327 new stores in its 2019-20 year, taking the total to 3,021 in 15 countries. The PEPCO brand entered western Europe for the first time with openings in Italy and it plans its first foray into Spain in April or May.
Chief Executive Andy Bond said its five stores in Italy have traded “super well” so far.
“That’s given us a lot of confidence that we can now start building PEPCO into western Europe and that expands our market opportunity from roughly 100 million people (in central and eastern Europe) to roughly 500 million people,” he told Reuters.
To further illustrate the brand’s potential he noted that the group has more than 1,000 PEPCO shops in Poland, which has a significantly smaller population and gross domestic product than Italy or Spain.
The company, which also owns the Dealz brand in Europe but does not trade online, has already opened more than 100 of the targeted 400 new stores this financial year.
Pepco Group is part of South African conglomerate Steinhoff, which is still battling the fallout of a 2017 accounting scandal.
Since 2019 Steinhoff and its creditors have been evaluating a range of strategic options for Pepco Group, including a potential public listing, private equity sale or trade sale.
That process was delayed by the pandemic, but Steinhoff said last month that it had resumed.
“The business will be up for sale at the right time. It’s a case of when, rather than if,” said Bond, a former boss of British supermarket chain Asda.
Pepco Group on Friday reported a 31% drop in full-year core earnings, citing temporary coronavirus-related store closures.
Underlying earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) were 229 million euros ($277 million) for the year to Sept. 30, against 331 million euros the previous year.
Sales rose 3% to 3.5 billion euros, reflecting new store openings.
($1 = 0.8279 euros)
(Reporting by James Davey; Editing by David Goodman)
Fashion-focused livery launch reveals new colours for Gasly, Tsunoda in 2021
Scuderia AlphaTauri debuted their colours for the 2021 Formula 1 season as drivers Pierre Gasly and Yuki Tsunoda unveiled the team’s new look with the livery for their AT02 racecars. The setting was a fashion-forward launch in the all-new showroom of AlphaTauri, Red Bull’s premium fashion brand.
Salzburg (AUSTRIA) – Formula 1 team Scuderia AlphaTauri served up a stylish preview of the new F1 season with a presentation of its 2021 livery alongside key looks from the upcoming Autumn/Winter 2021 collection of Red Bull’s premium fashion brand, AlphaTauri. The launch – held at AlphaTauri’s new showroom in Salzburg, Austria and presented digitally – marked the first time that drivers Pierre Gasly of France and Yuki Tsunoda of Japan have appeared together as teammates.
After a successful first season racing in AlphaTauri colours, the Italian outfit is looking to challenge the top of the ultra-competitive midfield in 2021, and the two young drivers have been assigned clear-cut roles. Gasly is Team Leader. The 25-year-old, who made his Formula One debut with the team in 2017 under its former name, Scuderia Toro Rosso, has earned two F1 podiums. During the 2020 campaign, Gasly’s maiden win at Monza was a defining moment for him and the team under its new name.
Tsunoda, 20, is the first Japanese driver to race in F1 since 2014, his promotion coming off the back of a fast, four-season trajectory from winning the 2018 F4 Japanese Championship and finishing third in the 2020 FIA F2 Championship to entering the top-level ranks this year. Expectations are high for his rapid style of learning to complement the experience of Gasly.
“The decision to go for Pierre and Yuki in 2021 was taken because Scuderia AlphaTauri’s philosophy is still to give talented young drivers from the Red Bull Junior Program the opportunity to step up to F1 and to educate them – this is why Yuki now gets his chance,” explained Team Principal Franz Tost. “With Pierre on Yuki’s side we have an experienced driver, who can help our Japanese rookie to develop faster, but at the same time we can aim for good results. I think this pair is the best possible scenario to achieve both our targets, and I’m also confident this will be a successful one.”
In 2020, Scuderia AlphaTauri won best livery by a landslide, and the team’s all-new, matte blue and white racecar livery took center stage with the drivers at the fashion event, anticipating the 2021 model that will debut at pre-season testing in Bahrain on 12 March. The test is the precursor to an unprecedented 23-race schedule, and in preparation for the demanding calendar both drivers have spent time at Red Bull’s Athlete Performance Center for intense fitness testing.
“I’m ready to take on the role of team leader. Yuki is a very quick driver, and he will help us move the team forward – we will work together to achieve that,” said Gasly, the team’s all-time top points scorer. “I really believe last year was the team’s best in terms of the way it worked, the development, the performance and the way it managed the race weekends. I’m always hungry for more, and I’m sure we can achieve great things in 2021.”
Tsunoda, who was honored with the Anthoine Hubert Award for best Formula 2 rookie in 2020, added, “I’ve been lucky enough to spend some time with Scuderia AlphaTauri ahead of the season, so I’m already developing strong relationships and learning a lot from them – including Pierre, who is an incredible talent. My main goal is to learn quickly and deliver results as soon as possible, and I’m really excited to get started.”
The launch at the AlphaTauri Showroom not only gave Gasly and Tsunoda a preview of the AlphaTauri Autumn/Winter 2021 fashion collection, but the drivers had the chance to select their new off-grid looks ahead of the season start.
Ahmet Mercan, CEO AlphaTauri, summarized: “This is a triple reveal at a unique point of time: a new AlphaTauri Showroom where fashion meets F1, a first look at the AW21 AlphaTauri collection and the unveiling of the new Scuderia AlphaTauri F1 livery and driver pairing.”
Scuderia AlphaTauri fans don’t have long to wait for racing action: The FIA Formula 1 season kicks off at the Bahrain Test on 12-14 March, in preparation for the Bahrain Grand Prix on 28 March.
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