Life After Finance: What You Need to Know First

Are you working in financial services, but dreaming of pastures new? Perhaps you are ready for a total career change, but have no idea where to start? Every industry comes with its pitfalls and frustrations, however if you're truly fed up with finance and need to break free, it's time to figure out what's next.

Firstly, remember you're not alone. People change careers all the time. Gone are the days of staying in the one job for your entire life; it's never too late to change your mind and try something new. Establishing a new vocation takes great patience and persistence, but if it's what you really want, will be worth it in the end.

If you're looking for inspiration, you'll find it in the story of programme manager turned artist, Julian Knopf. He spent 18 years climbing the corporate ladder within a leading global investment bank, before deciding to farewell financial services altogether to pursue his passion for pictures. He set up Gander Photography and now freelances for himself. It's been a rewarding move, and one he's proud of, but it's come with its fair share of challenges, too.

"There I was in a high-up position in banking, earning a good salary. I won't ever replace my salary, that's clearly not going to happen. You have to have a realistic attitude towards it; you've got to be brave, there are no two ways about it."

If you want to take a leap of faith and find new life after finance, here's what you need to consider:

What makes you happy?

Work is called "work" for a reason; it is supposed to be laborious at times. However, it's important to enjoy your job as well. You shouldn't loathe going into the office each day - it's not healthy. Before you make a huge career change, try first to pinpoint what is making you unhappy in the first place. Is it finance you need a break from, or just your current job?

Once you've worked out where your unsettled feeling is coming from, it's time to work out what will make you happy. If you have other interests or talents you've always wanted to pursue, do your research on different types of careers. If you feel as though you don't have the qualifications or experience for what you want to do, try studying part time or joining a relevant club / networking group outside of work hours to get you started.

What are your transferrable skills?

Working in finance has equipped you with a range of skills, from numerical analysis to budgeting and design work. Do not discredit yourself for the time you've spent in high-pressure, client-facing situations. Do not belittle your ability to create and deliver compelling presentations to senior staff, or your finesse for managing people and complex projects.

A lot of employers don't look for specific experience, but search for transferrable skills and demonstrated potential. When you are writing your CV to begin the application process, be sure to detail the responsibilities and soft skills you've developed in your finance roles to date. Highlight things like persuasive negotiation, clear communication and adherence to tight deadlines.

Employees with a financial services background tend to have structured and thorough approaches to tasks, which is something new employers will value. A lot of finance workers are also well-placed to set up their own businesses, due to their planning and budgeting skills. Perhaps this is something you could look into doing for yourself?

What will the financial implications be?

Money makes the world go around, and it is an important factor to consider when making a career change. Finance salaries are known to be very competitive compared to other industries, and often come with generous bonuses on top. A career move would likely mean a drop in your salary. Are you prepared to make a monetary sacrifice?

It's important to have a clear view of your own expenses, saving goals and financial needs. Ask yourself what your threshold is; what you need to be earning in order to live comfortably. How much cash can you realistically trade in for flexibility and fulfilment in your career?

Decision time

If you know finance isn't for you, a career change could be exactly what you need to find your motivation again. Seeking a new vocation requires effort, sacrifice and commitment, but can also be extremely rewarding. Are you up for a challenge?


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