Dan joined the Financial Services Graduate Programme in 2019. Having recently been offered a permanent position in a newly created role within the Treasury team at Propel Finance, he tells us about his journey into financial services and how he hopes to progress within the industry.
What attracted you to Graduate Programme Wales?
I think the stand-out point was the uniqueness of the programme. I’d been searching on and off for a couple of years after graduating and hadn’t found anything that could provide me with valuable workplace experience alongside a master’s qualification in the way that Graduate Programme Wales offered.
The calibre of businesses involved in the scheme was also very attractive. There are multiple established and well-known firms that I felt would be brilliant to work for to advance my career.
Have you always wanted a career in Financial Services?
I think there would be very few people who would answer this question as 100% yes. The same applies to me, as my degree was quite different from anything related to finance, I didn’t envisage a career in the industry.
Like many grads I’ve spoken to, I didn’t really know which industry or role I wanted to work in. The beauty of this scheme is that you’re able to ‘try’ several roles and ultimately make decisions on your future based on them.
Tell us about your journey on the Programme…
It was actually my wife (girlfriend at the time) who found the scheme and pointed it out to me. I applied and was fortunate enough to be invited to interview, followed by an assessment day. After a nerve-wracking wait, I found out I was successful and began my first placement at Lexis Nexis Risk Solutions in September 2019.
Working in Compliance I was able to get a birds-eye view on how the business operated as a whole, which I feel was key given that it was my first role in the FS industry. I worked on several projects, notably helping with the business’ preparation for the Senior Manager and Certification Regime (SMCR) enforced by the FCA.
Due to the onset of COVID-19, I was unable to move firms after rotation one. However, I was able to secure a role in the Customer Operations department at Lexis Nexis Risk Solutions, working on Management Information (MI) reporting. This role was in many ways the polar opposite of my first placement; I was able to delve into the workings of the department in detail and generate weekly & monthly reports to be used in Senior Management & Board meetings.
Currently I’m roughly three quarters of the way through my final placement at Propel Finance, working in the Treasury department. I was keen to secure a finance-oriented role for my final placement, and in doing so I’ve been fortunate enough to have experienced a wide range of roles & departments throughout my two years on the scheme. Currently I’m assisting with funding and cashflow management in particular.
What has been your highlight?
That’s a difficult question, as there have been quite a few firsts for me – but I would say in my current role, having my hard work recognised by being offered a permanent role in the Treasury team. I’ve loved the responsibility the team have given me, and I feel that this is the start of my progression within the industry.
What are your goals for the future?
I’d like to establish myself at Propel to begin with. I’ve learned a great deal in 6 months, but there is plenty that I still need to absorb to improve within my role.
Professional development is something I’ve thought about too – I’ve done some research into ACCA exams to begin after my master’s graduation. As my wife and I have just had a baby boy in March, I’ll have to weigh up any commitments with his needs too!
Do you have any advice for someone who is thinking of applying for the Programme?
If, like me, you were perhaps questioning whether financial services were right for you – or just that you’d never even considered the industry as a career option, I’d say dive in!
Financial Services firms are much more than just accountants, so if you’re passionate about marketing, customer service, HR etc. there will be a role, and more importantly the opening to a new career path, to suit you.
Having said that, if you see yourself as a future CFO I’d say that this scheme gives you everything you could possibly need to begin your journey to that goal: experience, qualifications and opportunity.
Fantastic advice from Dan and we wish him all the best not just in his new professional role but in his role as a new dad!