You don’t have to be pale and male to have a career in money

City AM - August 2019
Today, young people across London will be, with hearts pounding, receiving their much anticipated A-level results. Many will be taking up university places, but others will be looking to take their first steps into full-time work.
Traineeships can offer school leavers the opportunity to gain paid and purposeful experience that can lead them, debt-free, into full-time employment.
Sadly too few young people know about the great career opportunities the investment management industry has to offer. Part of this is down to us doing more to change perceptions about who we are and what we do as an industry. When we’ve spoken to young people about how they view jobs in financial services, the words they used often included ‘stressful’ and ‘stuffy’. Worryingly, a third said they felt they would not fit in, with the majority identifying the typical employee within financial services as a male, white undergraduate. Only a handful thought they could find a job in financial services straight from school.
Busting these myths and challenging perceptions is something the IA, the investment management industry’s trade body, is working hard to address through Investment20/20, our industry’s grassroots careers service. Over the past six years, Investment20/20 has helped more than 1,400 trainees start their careers in investment management. Half of those have done so straight out of school.
It is not necessary to have gone to university or be a maths whizz to find a job in the investment management industry. And you certainly don’t need to be white, male or privately educated. In fact, last year half of the school leavers who took part in our traineeship programme were female, a third were black or from an ethnic minority and over 80% were from state schools.
Firms also benefit from hiring young people from a variety of different backgrounds. From a commercial perspective, we know that a diversity of thought leads to better decisions from the investment floor, to the way our businesses are run. Ultimately, it’s also important that our industry looks more like the people we ultimately serve – Britain’s savers and investors.
That means spreading the net further than most industries currently do to reach those young people from different backgrounds, who have the potential to flourish in financial services. London is an extremely multicultural city with a diverse talent pool at our finger tips ready for the taking.  
To tap into this talent and hire for potential, firms need to examine the way they recruit, from the wording of the job advert through to the final interview. That means looking again at the language used in job adverts to ensure it is jargon-free. It also means going beyond the script in interviews to understand the skills a young people can bring to a role besides relying purely on their academic achievements. 
Life experience can also be an indicator of future success, equivalent to grades. Young people who’ve managed to juggle a part-time job alongside their studies or have overcome difficult circumstances at home, have the eagerness to learn and resilience to succeed in our industry. A university degree is certainly not a prerequisite for business success.    
As parents and employers watch images of young people up and down the country celebrate, or commiserate, their A-levels results, let us make sure that we are nurturing the talent of young people in modern-day Britain by looking beyond perceived traditional routes into financial services. And for students getting their results today, there is #NoWrongPath into your future career, so why not consider a traineeship with Investment2020.
Front cover image of Investment2020 quick brief


A future in finance for young people
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