My journey into Finance – Robert Allen
My name is Robert Allen, I'm 27 years old and have lived in Guernsey my entire life. I have had many different jobs in several different areas throughout my working life so far, unfortunately, most of the time I was just bouncing from job to job just to see a pay cheque at the end of the month.
When I was attending school, I never pictured myself working in an office environment, so I never really saw qualifications as something I 'needed'… I know… kids right..!
After almost 11 years of bouncing between physically straining jobs (and usually picking up some fairly impressive injuries along the way) I decided that it just wasn't for me anymore. There is only a certain amount of time you can run yourself into the ground in return for peanuts. This left me in a position where I wasn't really sure which way to turn. I had always been made to believe that because I didn't have qualifications, I wasn't able to obtain a decent job. Let alone start up a career for myself, especially considering how 'late in the game' I had left it.
In summer 2016, another job came to an end after picking up an injury that almost required surgery to correct, this is where I decided to draw the line and try to make a change. Luckily for me, a very good friend of mine had plans to start up a business in the financial industry and found himself needing an office administrator. Even though I felt extremely under-qualified to do even this, I jumped at the chance to take the job and immediately started hitting the books.
So began my new Finance career…
The first 2 weeks had passed, between filing and all of my other administrative duties I found the time to try to understand the industry I was trying to get involved in. However, I felt like I was drowning in an ocean consisting of bonds, coupons, equities, derivatives, commodities etc. I couldn't make heads or tails of anything I was reading, which made me feel as if my plans of kick-starting a late career in the financial industry were going to come to a very quick end.
I approached my boss and explained my concerns, he sat down with me and gave me a 'welcome to finance 101' talk and then handed me two books which he wanted me to go home and read after hours. The first book explained ethics and integrity in the workplace. The second book was 'The CISI's Fundamentals of Financial Services'. To my surprise, these books actually made sense to me, for the first time since starting this job, I had been given material to read that not only made sense, but also gave me a lot of 'start-up' knowledge, which really lifted my spirits and made me feel as if I had just found my footing in this industry.
Excited that I could now understand and possibly have a conversation with a qualified professional about financial subjects, I decided that it was time to make my next step… my first professional exam. After being given my exam date, I instantly felt all of my previous insecurities rushing back and felt as if passing this exam wasn't going to be an option for me… to my surprise, I was very wrong. I passed my first exam (Fundamentals of Financial Services) on my first attempt! I can remember looking at my result, in a state of shock, thinking “maybe all of this financial stuff isn't as confusing as I had first thought”.
Positive reactions & my next steps
Without delay, I returned to the office with a massive smile and a document stating I had passed my first exam (they kindly bought me some cakes to celebrate and even mentioned me on the company website – see here), and started studying for my second exam, The CISI's Introduction to Securities & Investments. I spent a good few hours every day studying for this exam (which I have still yet to take) and felt as if I may be starting to struggle again. That was until I attended the training course for this qualification that our company held at the Wayside Cheer Hotel.
Reading something you barely understand will only get you so far, but having a highly trained and extremely competent tutor help you through every topic that you may be struggling with, really did help me understand the problems I had been having. Our tutor made a statement just before Q&A opened which really made me feel as if he was there to help, rather then just relay information, that statement was… “No question is too 'stupid'. If you're unsure of something, ask me. You may be asking a question that someone else is too embarrassed to ask."