What I’ve Learned Working In Finance For Six Years (Hint: It Applies To Everyone)

Tim Denning
Apr 27, 2018 · 13 min read

Here’s what I learned working in finance:


1. The grass is never greener.

Over the years, many of my colleagues have left finance to start their own thing or join some new age fintech that apparently has all the answers — that is, until they come up against credit risk or accidentally fund terrorism through their products and services. The grass is never greener.

“Every company, whether it’s a large bank or one you started yourself, is going to have challenges. It comes down to which flavors of challenges you like the most”


2. There are mediocre people everywhere we go.

In finance, like any industry, there are mediocre people.

“What I’ve learned through my years in finance is that it’s not that people are mediocre or dumb; it’s that everyone has different priorities”

Some people want to leave at 5:01 pm to be with their kids and that’s okay.


3. There are good leaders and bad ones.

Don’t get emotional about it, just spend as much time as you can with the good ones.


4. Your career is never going to be full of highlights.


5. The need for a side hustle.

Our career can’t always be full of highlights, which is why we need a side hustle. Think of it like another avenue that we can use to kick goals, grow and broaden your skills.


6. Once we understand people, we’re set.

People go through a range of emotions every day. Once we understand that what’s happening in business could be entirely down to the fact they’re human, and nothing to do with business, we see the business landscape differently.


7. We’re all constantly growing in secret.

I always thought that GM’s, CEO’s, etc, had it made. I always thought that they woke up each day and came to work with a killer instinct. The finance industry taught me I was wrong.


8. Your happiness doesn’t stay the same.

At the start of a new role in any industry, we’re loaded with energy. We come to work with new strategies and different ways to acquire customers.


9. Innovation is much harder than we think.

Geez, if there’s is one thing I have seen a lot of in many financial services businesses it’s innovation.

“Surprisingly, one thing that makes innovation really challenging is an abundance of resources”

Large businesses can afford to throw lots of money against the wall at innovation whereas startups can’t.


10. It’s not about networking: it’s about helping.

Someone emailed me yesterday and said, “Hey I’d like to network with you.”


11. We all experience bad publicity. It’s how we handle it.

Even monster success stories like Facebook have bad publicity. Working in finance can have some ugly moments. Not everyone is honest and there will be times where the business you work for or even your own business may face negative publicity.


12. Listening to customers is not easy but it works.

Working in finance has allowed me to see my fair share of angry customers. For years, I tried to defend my position and this caused me to miss what the customer was saying.


13. What you have for lunch matters.

I was eating chicken nuggets in a bread roll for ages and it caused me to be sleepy in the afternoon. This killed my productivity and my desire to work effectively so I would cram all my challenging tasks into the morning.


14. Kindness and compassion are superpowers.

Your humility separates you from the pack. Trying my best in my finance career to show compassion and be kind to people has helped me immensely. These two traits are rarer than you think.


15. Taking off the mask is freeing.

For the first half of my career in finance, I wore a mask. It’s hard to admit but it’s true. I used corporate language like “revenue targets” and “customer value proposition” and took a notepad to meetings to look smart. I wore the nicely ironed suit with the cute little cufflinks.


16. Scheduling holidays in advance provides additional motivation.

Let’s not pretend we’re 100% motivated each week at work. Some weeks will suck and that’s normal. Booking holidays in advance gives me a permanent memory of yet another thing that’s great about life: taking breaks.


17. Working really long hours means there’s a problem.

There have been a lot of times I’ve encountered people in finance working their butt off. I used to think it’s cool; now I see it as a problem.

“Productivity is the opposite of working long hours”


18. You’ll have to speak in front of others.

That’s why I tell everybody to get their arse to Toastmasters and learn how to speak without having a thousand Ums and Ahs between every word.


19. Most people have no idea about business so don’t feel so bad.

Yep, that’s the truth! All these people you meet in business that sound like they know what they’re talking about often don’t.

“The greatest challenge and complexity with business is understanding its simplicity”


20. Change is guaranteed. Why not embrace it?

And here’s the final thing I’ll say: whether you work in finance like me or in another industry, change is guaranteed. One of these will happen to you:


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Tim Denning

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Viral Blogger - Inspiring the world through Personal Development and Entrepreneurship. www.timdenning.net

The Mission

A network of business & tech podcasts designed to accelerate learning. Selected as “Best of 2018” by Apple. Mission.org