Bright Sparks Cash in on Financial Services Sector; A Diverse Selection of Graduates Are Finding Huge Benefits on the Welsh Financial Services Graduate Programme, and Look Set for Terrific Careers for Life in Roles They Enjoy

Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales), August 28, 2016 | Go to article overview

Bright Sparks Cash in on Financial Services Sector; A Diverse Selection of Graduates Are Finding Huge Benefits on the Welsh Financial Services Graduate Programme, and Look Set for Terrific Careers for Life in Roles They Enjoy


Meet the fresh young graduates breathing new life in to Wales' financial services sector. A group of bright young professionals are calling on others of their generation to "invest in their future" by considering careers in financial services. The high-flying recent graduates are all currently on the Welsh Financial Services Graduate Programme, a pioneering scheme run by the Welsh Financial Services Forum which combines intensive work placements with academic learning across two years.

With not enough graduates aware of the potential opportunities that exist in financial services, and the industry tarnished by stereotypes of "boys clubs" and rich bankers in white shirts, the scheme aims to change perceptions of the sector and show the next generation that there's a place for them in the financial world.

The programme allows graduates to experience various financial services roles with some of Wales' leading companies, including GM Financial, Atradius, Admiral, and Principality Building Society, giving them the opportunity to experience the workplace, all while studying towards an MSc in Financial Services.

Through their successes so far, a host of young sparks are helping to diversify the sector and dispel myths and preconceptions about the industry.

Sarah Parry, aged 24, from Bargoed, worked on the checkout at Tesco before securing a place on the scheme. She's currently on placement as an underwriter at Atradius.

"You definitely don't need a financial background to get into financial services. I studied mathematics at the University of South Wales and have worked at Tesco for the last five years - part-time through university and then while looking for permanent work after graduating.

"I don't think many graduates are aware of how many different opportunities there are in financial services in Wales.

Personally, I had no idea how many different career paths the sector could open up here. Having the opportunity to try out different job roles within the scheme has been a really good chance for me to find out more about the many different areas of financial services. There's definitely something to suit everyone."

Originally from Northern Ireland, Rebecca Irvine has worked on placements with Composite Legal Expenses and Finance Wales and is part of the team of graduates working to organise the 2016 Welsh Finance Conference, an event that will give a new generation of graduates an exclusive opportunity to meet and network with more than 40 leading employers from across the financial services industry.

After studying at Swansea University, the 23-year-old decided to stay in Wales rather than move to a more traditional financial services sector. A real success story of the scheme, Rebecca has already secured a full-time job with Finance Wales.

"I would encourage anyone who wants a challenging and rewarding career path to look past the stereotypes and explore the amazing opportunities in the sector. We 'millennials' have been left with soaring house prices, massive student loans and, more recently, the uncertainty of Brexit to deal with. If you want to be part of a generation who work to solve these issues and change the face of financial services, then now is the time to enter the industry.

"My experience on the scheme has been wonderful. It was a big decision to commit to a two-year scheme, but I instantly saw the benefits.

"Through my placements I've had some amazing exposure within the industry, and my project management skills have developed exponentially."

Rebecca has recently been appointed in a Strategy role at Finance Wales.

"Ultimately I have learned that I really love managing projects and have learnt a lot about assimilating to different workplace cultures. Looking to the future, I want to continue working alongside the public sector, and contribute to improving the Welsh economy. …

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