Finding a voice in financial services

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Finding a voice in financial services

I started thinking about what I would say to my younger self if I had the chance to go back 30 odd years as I walked into the world of financial services.  

'It’s going to be scary. A big office – you won’t know where you are going or what is expected of you, and everyone (although nice to you) knows each other.

'You will feel like a fish out of water. You aren’t surprised the bosses are all blokes hidden away in glass offices. They will smile but don’t expect any of them to engage with you; they will nod as they pass you in the corridor.

'Imposter syndrome well and truly sets in. Don’t worry, it will all feel uncomfortable for a while – it will get easier.   

'You know you are young and trying your hardest not to be an obvious introvert, even though you are the new girl at the start of her first job.

I certainly never felt the urge to offer my opinion to those behind the glass offices.

"A job which took you in a career you took a punt on but haven’t exactly worked out where it is going to end up – you don’t have a big end-goal, unlike some. 

'Just know that it does work out – your career will end up shaping you as a person inside that career. There will be a series of steps – some will feel like an accomplishment and others won’t. They will feel like failure; trust me they aren’t. You are evolving into your career.

'Be strong because one day you will change direction, you will move out of the world of financial advice and into the world of platforms.

'Be prepared for what happens to you – you will feel different – somehow you have found your voice, you feel uplifted, happier and excited. Remember that step because it’s at that time you define you.'

For me, it was truly when I left the comfort of one career and jumped into a very different world that my whole persona changed overnight. For the first time in forever I felt I was able to voice an opinion.

That opinion had very little to do with the 20 years' industry knowledge and experience that came with me; it was the platform (pardon the pun) I was riding on.

A platform that gave me an official voice, an opinion linked with meaningful insight to those largely male-dominated boardrooms of large institutional businesses.

So different and completely opposite to my early career where I certainly never felt the urge to offer my opinion to those behind the glass offices.

Women leaders today are quite good at incorporating different perspectives to traditional industry values. Women are challenging the norm by co-existing in today’s corporate world – women are becoming the norm.

Support and nurture are really important yet often underestimated. One example of support and nurture in my world is finding the time (more like making the effort) to network – for me it’s the Women in Platforms group. The next session is March 9 if anyone is interested.

Chatting to one of our male attendees only a couple of weeks ago, he said this was the only event he would make time to attend. He didn’t often speak up, he listened intently and took note. That’s breaking the bias right there. 

I end with the younger me, my advice to her is: Listen for a few years as you need to know what is going on. Be open and absorb everything. Don’t be worried about questioning logic, challenge the art of the possible and go for it.

Emma Napier does the business development for Bravura Solutions