When you envision a career in finance, what do you imagine? The traditional image is lots of men in suits, who’ve probably studied accountancy or economics at university, spending their days up to their eyes in spreadsheets.
But at a company like EY, it’s completely different. They welcome candidates from all backgrounds and degree disciplines, from History to Biology, and are widening their application criteria to diversify their workforce.
To find out what a career in finance really looks like, we sat down with three EY employees to get an insight into their career paths and the kind of work you could be getting involved with. Elizabeth Brown, a Senior Financial Services Auditor, Rachel Jones, Corporate Finance Analyst, and Rozalie Boyle, Corporate Restructuring Analyst, all provided some insider tips on life in the finance industry, and how women can make their voices heard.
It’s not as male-dominated as it might seem
We all think of finance as an industry dominated by men, but as these three women from EY proved to us, this isn’t the case. A number of finance firms are actively seeking more female employees, and working hard to provide the support women need to excel in their roles.
Rozalie says: “One of the biggest challenges I’ve faced is not believing in myself. It does sound cliché, but often women are their own biggest obstacle to success.
“There is a saying that ‘A woman will not volunteer for a job that she is 95% capable and qualified to do, where as a man who is 40% capable and qualified, will.’ I see this time and time again, though EY and the women in EY are working very hard to change that. Even in the last 12 months I’ve seen real progress.”
Finance is actually pretty exciting
For those outside of the industry, finance can seem all numbers, spreadsheets and data. But finance actually incorporates a wide range of tasks, such as liaising with clients and managing projects, along with the more technical aspects including diligence and advisory.
Rozalie admits that a career in finance had previously never appealed to her: “I always detested the idea of becoming an accountant. I thought it sounded dull, detailed and you had to be a very boring person to be one. I couldn’t have been further from the truth.
“I feel like I’ve become more interesting and lively since working here, as you’re having to solve problems and challenges every day, interacting with people and working with some of the biggest companies in the world.”
You’ll get the chance to work on some big projects
Finance is a fast-paced industry where you’ll be expected to throw yourself in straight away, and you’ll be given the responsibility to work on some pretty major projects. I mean, no one likes being sat around all day, right?
Rachel told us about her biggest achievement since starting at the company: “I worked on the merger of two large asset management clients. This was an £11bn transaction that was closely followed and reported on globally. They are now one of the largest investment companies in the world.”
You get lots of support
While you’ll be given the chance to work on some major projects, you won’t just be thrown in without the necessary support or guidance. EY will be with you every step of the way, providing you with the tools you need to make the right decisions and do well.
Elizabeth talked about how her “self-confidence has increased significantly since joining EY”, and how she has “constantly been given opportunities to push myself within the firm, and this has aided my personal development.
“I was given exposure to clients within my first few weeks at EY and this has greatly improved my communication skills, so that I am now comfortable in leading client meetings and discussions.”
Golden advice you need to know
So what would their main pieces of advice be for those seeking a career in finance? Listen up, because there are some gems here…
Elizabeth: “It is important to maintain a healthy work-life balance and I would therefore advise those going through this stage to continue with outside hobbies and interests, whilst also working hard to build the foundations of a successful career.”
Rachel: “I think it’s very important to always ask questions when you first join, as it will allow you to learn and manage expectations. It’s important to make yourself heard.”
Rozalie: “My biggest tip is to take a chance and go for that job that you may not think you will get, as you will amaze yourself as to your capability.”