5 Tips For a Smooth Career Jump: Kevin Brockie, CA

As Chartered Accountants, it is important to remind ourselves that our designation is a highly recognized brand, both in the finance world, and in the business world in general.  Chartered Accountants are not only trusted for their financial knowledge, but also for their integrity, ethics, rigor, transparency, thought processes and problem solving skills. Because of these characteristics, CAs have the ability to change their careers and thrive in almost any industry.  There are many CAs in non-traditional roles such as wealth management,, marketing, insurance, general management, consulting, real estate, banking, recruitment, or small business ownership.  As a CA who has worked in finance, been an executive recruiter and who now works in wealth management at RBC Dominion Securities, I can honestly say that there are five things you can do to help you successfully transition into a different career.

Chartered Accountants are not only trusted for their financial knowledge, but also for their integrity, ethics, rigor, transparency, thought processes and problem solving skills.

Know Your Transferable Skills – When I was contemplating leaving my finance job. I sat down, and thought about what I had accomplished in my career. I then made a very specific list of the various skills I had acquired.  My list included such things as problem solving, communication, leadership, the ability to work in a team, research, the ability to influence others, issue identification and resolution, selling, and understanding risk and how to mitigate it.  These were all highly sought after transferable skills. Perhaps the most important skill I brought to the table as an experienced CA, was the ability to understand financial matters and translate that understanding to others not so well versed in accounting/finance.

After I had listed my skills, I wrote down examples that illustrated how I had used each skill successfully and the benefit my employer had gained as a result.  Finally, I culled the list based on the industry I was going to enter.  I asked myself which skills were going to be most valued by my prospective employers and then took some extra time developing examples of successful application of those skills. I believe it was this preparation that allowed me to successfully transition out of finance and into executive recruiting and eventually into wealth management.

I asked myself which skills were going to be most valued by my prospective employers and then took some extra time developing examples of successful application of those skills.

Leverage Your Network – I cannot stress this point enough – understand the value of your network and how much effort people should put into networking.  Over the course of your career you will meet numerous people who know you, trust you and are willing to help you.  They will come from all walks of life.  They might be colleagues, clients, classmates, or other professionals.  It is very important to keep in contact with your network and keep track of who and where they are.  This is one of the reasons for such tremendous growth in social media and websites such as LinkedIn.   If you haven’t already, I would strongly encourage you to set up a profile on LinkedIn and begin to build your professional network.  You will be amazed how quickly it can be done and how many people are actually in your network.  Now let people in your network know what it is you want to do.  Leverage your network by seeking out contacts in the industry you want to enter and ask for a meeting.  Go to the meeting prepared to ask thoughtful, intelligent questions. If you feel that the timing is right, ask to be connected to a decision maker in the industry.  You will be shocked at how many people want to help and how, down the road, you might be able to help them in return.  If you land a job because of that person, make sure to thank him/her – a little gratitude goes a long way.

Now let people in your network know what it is you want to do.  Leverage your network by seeking out contacts in the industry you want to enter and ask for a meeting.  Go to the meeting prepared to ask thoughtful, intelligent questions.

Quiet Confidence – It is one thing to understand your skills and quite another to feel confident that you can apply them in a different context. For some of us, this can feel quite daunting, which is why it is so important to understand how you have successfully used your transferable skills in the past.  It is this knowledge that will allow you to communicate with confidence in any meeting with a prospective employer.  Your potential employer will be able to see the value that you bring to the table, particularly if your demeanor errs on the side of quiet confidence, and you do not oversell yourself.

Your potential employer will be able to see the value that you bring to the table, particularly if your demeanor errs on the side of quiet confidence, and you do not oversell yourself.

Selling Yourself Into a New Role – Once you have managed to secure the meeting, it is time to close the deal and get hired into your new role.  Before going to the interview, take the time to research the company and new job in depth. Do your research, talk to people and determine what skills are important to the industry and the company.  Once you have done this, create a story that pairs your skills with the needs of the position and company.  Build the story around how you have used your skills to create success in previous roles and how those same skills could be used to foster success in your new role.   Practice your delivery and perfect it.  You must tell the story with conviction and instill confidence in the hiring authority. Once they feel confident that you are a fit, he/she can recommend you for the position.  The extra time you take to understand your skills, and connect them with the core values and needs of the company/role, can be the difference between getting you hired, or going home disappointed.

You must tell the story with conviction and instill confidence in the hiring authority. Once they feel confident that you are a fit, he/she can recommend you for the position.

Invest in Yourself and Get Prepared – Let’s face it, changing careers is not easy.  Fear can get in our way and we may feel like we are starting all over again.  Take some time to invest in your new career before you even start it by taking courses that highlight the skills and knowledge you will need to be successful. This not only makes you feel more comfortable about changing careers, but also shows the hiring authority that you are serious about succeeding and being a valuable contributor to the organization. You can never have too many skills in your toolbox, so continue to take courses and grow your knowledge, so that you can position yourself for any promotions or opportunities for career advancement.

Take some time to invest in your new career before you even start it by taking courses that highlight the skills and knowledge you will need to be successful.

A career transition should be viewed not with trepidation, but with confidence that comes from being well-prepared and knowledgeable about our skills and successes.  It’s a confidence that is born of the knowledge that a CA designation is respected not only in the world of finance, but in the business world in general.  As someone who started as an accountant, transitioned into a role as an executive recruiter and now works in wealth management, I can assure you that working as a CA builds a formidable transferable skill set that is truly in high demand.

Kevin Brockie, CA, is an Investment Advisor for RBC Dominion Securities Inc. and loves it.