Changing careers can often make us feel uneasy. That jump into the new and unknown providing a flutter of excitement or nerves, more than likely both. It can be difficult to truly visualise the new role you'll be stepping into - wrapping your head around your new routine, understanding what your weekly, monthly, yearly schedule will look like. In an ideal world, we could try before we buy or at least sit down and pick the brains of those who have already experienced the role we're interested in. But since that's not always an option, we at Elite thought we'd pick some brains for you and give you some insight - this edition we explore fashion finance.
For every and any business to run, someone has to understand and control the financials. We spoke with one of our candidates who was recently successful placed, progressing from the role of Finance Analyst to Global Finance Analyst, and asked her a few questions about her role and how she got there:
What would you say is a typical day for you working in retail finance?
I work for a medium-sized business currently and as a result, I cover a broad spectrum of tasks, which means every day can be different and I really enjoy this variety. Certain days I work on getting the month end results and updating our management accounts model, other days I could be found speaking to our auditors in regards to year-end as it is this time of year for us at the moment. The day which typically has the most structure for me is Monday when I prepare the weekly financial results and then present them at our senior management trading meeting. This is attended by our Managing Director and Department Heads so you really need to be on top of your game to answer any questions that come along!
What are some of the challenges?
I am often approached with ad hoc queries by the Managing Director and the rest of the senior management team that vary in nature. It can be challenging to get the information they need straight away because most of the time their requests are urgent. Another part of my job is forecasting future revenue and costs, which can be difficult especially in times of uncertainty, such as the pre-Brexit vote. At the same time anticipating these changes and building different scenarios can be very fulfilling because of the excitement of checking whether you’ve hit target and managed to predict what will happen.
What are some of the educational and professional decisions you’ve made to reach your current position?
My background did not follow the traditional finance pathway most finance professionals take as I started my career in a non-finance role working for a fast-growth tech start-up. This, however, gave me the commercial experience most budding finance professionals lack and has been highly appreciated by employers, it has given me an edge I didn’t expect to have. In terms of educational qualifications, I have a first class BA Hons degree in Business Management and specialised in Finance in my last year at university, which definitely helped. Later on, I started studying for a CIMA qualification, which I decided to discontinue as it didn’t seem to be adding value to my work, and a lot of the course work was just repeating university material. This was a difficult decision to make and I would advise anyone to pursue an accounting qualification if it feels right for them as it is said to keep more doors open, however, keep in mind that even without the qualification you can progress in the field of finance, and after a few years ‘qualified by experience’ becomes more important than holding a finance qualification. Especially in the UK, I was pressurised to believe that attaining the qualification was the holy grail but it is simply an option.
What advice would you give to finance professionals looking to get into the retail industry?
Just like with any other industry, showing passion is crucial and in retail, most companies have a physical product so it is very useful to be passionate about it at the interview stage, and visiting the company’s shop if they have one before the interview. When I interviewed for a beauty brand to get my previous job, I had bought their nail varnish and wore it, which was an interesting little thing to talk about with the interviewer. Doing something like this really makes your passion for the brand shine through and it will also make you more memorable. Also doing an internship is always a great idea as many employers look for relevant experience. I worked part-time in the finance team of a charity for free during university and this experience was crucial in getting my first graduate job. Once settled in a role, don't be scared to move on if you've stopped learning - being open to new opportunities and changing jobs really helps propel your career forward, I can't stress this enough. And Linkedin – have your profile updated at all times!
What are some of the benefits you’ve found working with Elite?
I was approached by Meera from Elite on Linkedin and am really thankful because I wasn’t even looking to move from my last job. However, Meera approached me with a role that was very closely matching my profile but also promising to be a great opportunity for growth which wet my appetite and made me take the leap. Elite has been very professional throughout the whole process and the one big and important thing that sets them apart is that they are very personable. They will take the time to call you at every stage of the process, always responding promptly to any queries, and Meera even set time aside to treat me over lunch which was wonderful and an example of how all recruitment agencies should be.
If you're looking for a new position, in finance or any other area of fashion, then head to our jobs page today.