Transferable skills: from retail, to finance

Skills gained from a role in retail, alongside studying at university can be transferred to a role in the financial services. Chelsea Costello explains how customer service, product knowledge and hitting targets can kick start your FS career.

transferableskills280In order to begin a career within the finance industry you don’t always need to have had previous experience working in the finance sector.

In actual fact, there are many valuable skills that you can learn from working in retail, or from studying at university that are transferable over to a finance based role.

What are transferable skills?

Transferable skills are general skills that can be used in many types of occupations. They can be gained through academia, volunteering, life experience, previous jobs, hobbies and interests. Understanding that these skills can enhance your marketability is key, as they can help you open up to a larger sector of the job market.

Customer service and communication

Working in retail is a good starting point to develop fantastic customer service skills which is also an essential attribute to have in finance. In both industries, employees will be dealing directly with customers and ensuring that the customer is satisfied is essential, especially when trying to gain repeat business in order to maximise the company’s profit and to assist in the company’s growth.

Being able to interact with a diverse range of people is crucial when working in a retail role. Due to the nature of the business an employee will come across people from different cultures and social backgrounds on a daily basis, and will therefore have to adapt to suit the particular circumstance.

Being able to do this then puts the customer at ease and allows a peaceful transition of communication. Employees are then able to provide a better service if they know the needs and wants of their customers, meaning that the customer will be more likely to remain loyal and support the business.

Not only are these skills needed when dealing with customers, but they are also necessary when developing a good rapport with work colleagues in order to guarantee the smooth running of the job.

It is essential to be a good communicator within the finance industry to ensure that messages are passed correctly. This is because an employee will be communicating with both finance professionals, and also people with very little financial knowledge, meaning that they’d need to convey complex information in a way that both parties are able to understand.

Product knowledge

In both finance and retail it is compulsory for an employee to know their products and services. Knowledge is power – so the more they know, the more effective they will be as a seller – thus creating more sales. They will be more confident when answering customer questions, which will mean the customer is more likely to spend money.

Targets and deadlines

Finance is a highly pressurised environment, with there being a huge emphasis on making money, meaning that employees often have to work towards daily, weekly and monthly targets.

Many people don’t realise that retail is also very target orientated, with workers constantly having to hit sales targets. This shows how any individual that wishes to work in either sector has to be highly driven and motivated to achieve these.

Whilst studying at university you learn that working towards deadlines is crucial. Writing essays are a regular part of university life, and with any essay there is a deadline, meaning that there is a certain expectation for it to be met by a particular time and date.

The majority of students would have had to write several essays throughout their course, showing how they have to manage their time effectively and organise their workload. All of these skills are compulsory for someone who wants to work within finance due to the nature of the industry, and the fast paced setting.

Attention to detail

Attention to detail is a skill that can be picked up whilst studying for a degree at university and is paramount when working in the financial services.

At university it is important to proofread any work before submitting it. Ensuring that there are no errors could mean the difference between a pass and a fail. Making sure you have referenced properly could also mean the same.

Accuracy is critical within finance, and if this skill is not carried out efficiently it can lead to substantial mistakes being made resulting in dire consequences. You have to ensure that all financial data is input correctly into the systems so that the right transactions are carried out.

There are many job roles within the finance industry and not all of them will require the same set of skills, however if you have these basic skills then you hold the starting point to kick start your career in the financial services.

If you would like to find out any more information on the market and the roles we have available, please do not hesitate to contact us on 01273 651 500.

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