Since joining the Insurance sector a few years back, a common topic people discuss when it comes to their career is personal development and continuous progression. I converse with candidates daily from entry to senior levels and the one question I always raise is where do you see yourself in 10 years?
The standard answers I get to this question are “oh I have never thought about that or I haven’t thought that far into the future.” Within companies nationwide you have the overachievers – they are the people who have received a promotion within 2 years but that is the only progression they will see for the next 10 years. Alternatively, you hear of people who may not receive a promotion for four or five years but will receive three promotions within that 10-year period. That’s why it is important to have long term goals and not get trapped in the moment imagining you are untouchable. If you are searching for a career within financial services, I believe It is imperative to sit down, look in the mirror and visualise where you want to be in 10 years?
Of course, this will vary depending on what level you are on which will be outlined below.
At entry-level, it is very easy to jump into the first opportunity that becomes available whether it be a Trainee Financial Advisor or a Junior Life and Pensions Administrator. Evidently, it is important to get your foot in the door although it’s equally important to understand what the role will involve and which path is best suited for you to continuously grow and develop. Entry-level is the most significant stage to have long term goals set in place. For example, one employer may offer a higher starting salary and free lunches on-site and the other will offer a slightly lower salary with full educational support to achieve your QFA qualification, but unfortunately, the free lunches would be gone. Is that important in the grand scheme of things? Absolutely not! In this situation, if you realise that Rome wasn’t built in a day but in two years when you complete your QFA exams you will be fully qualified, and your career progression then has no limits. Most candidates will complete their initial career qualification in one company and then look elsewhere as their career progression opportunity presents itself. Most employers will fund your exams and pay a bonus on completion of each module. When you receive your APA application you will receive a salary increase and when you receive your full QFA you will receive a further increase. However, it is easy to assume that a pay rise is a form of progression and of course it is in some aspects, but you need to consider the bigger picture. Most people when they imagine progression, they think of responsibility and that is the mindset you need to grasp if you want to achieve your career goals as we will discuss further in the mid-level sections.
Mid – Level
When you receive your first professional qualification naturally your options to move forward will open. You find yourself in a position where you have two years’ experience and professional qualification. This is an excellent position to be in and most companies are eager to talk to these kinds of people. At this stage in your career, you will be on a competitive salary and you will have high expectations for your next career move. Understand what your next goals are professionally, and progression will play a vital part in this move. In many cases, people I deal with are reluctant to move sideways and definitely not backwards however this goes back to the point that an increase in salary is not necessarily progression. In order to earn €50,000 in 5 years, you may need to accept a pay cut from €30,000 to €28,000 to achieve this. Naturally, salary plays a key feature, but you need to be realistic about your progression. From personal experience, I placed a candidate who was earning €35,000 a year in a role where the progression was limited. That candidate identified the bigger picture and moved to a competitor on a base salary of €30,000 and within 18 months later they were earning €45,000 a year. They went into a role with endless progression and not just short-term salary increases but with potential long term. My argument is that you need to have your 5 or 10-year plan prepared and firmly sticking to it. If you can plan for the future and set long term goals, you will be in a significant position 5 years down the line.
At a senior level, it is not that simple to just pack up and move jobs as you have built that responsibility in your role. Knowing what to do next in your career can be tricky to understand but I always find speaking to market experts to discover market trends is always a reliable place to start. If you are searching for your next move at senior level, you need to consider and reflect on what you have achieved so far in your career and what you want to achieve moving forward. So, you may have completed your first 5/10-year plan so why not create a new one. Life is always about improving and there are endless opportunities out there if you genuinely want it.