by Emma Wallis

The financial services industry is reaching out to people who have taken career breaks to encourage them to return to work. Companies are proactively trying to hire and promote more senior women and to improve the overall diversity of their leadership. There is a growing recognition that businesses with cognitive diversity (people who think differently as opposed to merely looking different) make better decisions.

So if you used to work in financial services and have taken time out to raise children or for other reasons, this is a great time to make a comeback – employers want to hear from you and are keen to make the most of your skills and expertise. What’s more, companies have put support structures in place, from career coaching to flexible working arrangements, to ease your transition back into the workplace.

The investment and savings sector, in particular, is offering a range of opportunities for ‘returners’ (i.e. women and men looking for work after having taken a voluntary career break lasting a year or more.) Specific returner programmes at companies including Standard Life Aberdeen, Old Mutual Wealth and consultancy Redington, among others, offer short-term work experience placements, accompanied by mentoring and support.

Elsewhere, firms are encouraging returners to apply for permanent positions. For example, M&G Investments states that it welcomes applications from individuals who have taken an extended career break and is willing to consider flexible working arrangements.

Beyond their individual efforts, financial services companies are collaborating with each other to reach out to career returners. The Returners to Financial Services Scotland Programme  is offering paid three-month placements at a variety of firms including BlackRock, Hymans Robertson and Standard Life Aberdeen.

The Returners Database is a cross-company initiative to connect returners with job opportunities at asset managers and associated companies, such as investment consultants. People on career breaks who have prior experience in the investment sector can register with the database free of charge and upload their CVs.

Asset managers and other associated companies will then use the database to seek suitable candidates for vacant roles and returner programmes. The database was developed in association with the Diversity Project, a five-year initiative to accelerate progress towards an inclusive culture in the investment profession, and is powered by The Buy-Side Club.

You can read more about individuals who have successfully re-entered the financial sector after a break, on the Diversity Project’s website. Interviewees offer tips for people currently seeking opportunities, the main themes being “network, network, network,” and be confident in your abilities and your value to prospective employers.

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Emma Wallis brings 12 years of financial media experience to The Buy-Side Club. She learnt the ropes as a journalist with Euromoney Institutional Investor in London, writing about pension funds and asset management for Global Money Management. She then moved to New York, spending four years as editor of Money Management Letter and Foundation & Endowment Money Management newsletters, covering the investment strategies of pension plans and non-profits, respectively. From there, Emma returned to London with Quill PR, where she advised a range of institutional, retail and wealth managers on media relations and strategic communications. She holds the Investment Management Certificate and is a trustee of Accomplish Children’s Trust, a charity providing education and medical care for children with disabilities in Africa.

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