Rob S.

Director of Administration / Compliance Officer
Happy to mentor
Happy to be contacted

About me

Rob S.
Social Sciences then Sociology
United Kingdom

My employment

Director of Administration / Compliance Officer
United Kingdom
Finance and consultancy

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A day in the life of a Director of Administration / Compliance Officer in the United Kingdom

How I looked for work

I took a job selling insurance for about a year to get some basic experience in Financial Services. I then registered with a recruitment agency specialising in Financial Services placements, and eventually got a job on a graduate trainee scheme. When changing jobs later on in my career I was helped by having built up a network of contacts.

How I found out about the job

Recruitment agency

The recruitment process

During my career the recruitment process typically consisted of an interview with the recruitment agency followed by 2 or 3 interviews with the company. At that time assessment centres were not used, although I have subsequently been involved with assessment centres as a recruiter rather than as a candidate.

My career goals when I graduated

Initially I had no specific industry or role in mind when I graduated, and was willing to consider anything that appeared to offer good career prospects.

My career history

I was fortunate to make quite quick progress when I first began working in Financial Services, progressing from graduate trainee to manager within 5 years and to director level within 10 years.

What has helped my career to progress

I would say that the two biggest factors were: (1) delivering on any commitments I made, even if this required putting in long hours and (2) the ability to work constructively with people regardless of personal differences.

Courses taken since graduation

When I first started in Financial Services I studied for 3 years to become an Associate of the Chartered Insurance Institute, then a further year to become a Fellow.

How my studies have helped my career

I studied social sciences at York for 4 terms then specialised in sociology & social psychology for the remaining 5 terms. Some of knowledge that I gained of economics and statistics was of general use throughout my career, whilst there were aspects of sociology and (especially) social psychology that were of benefit in terms of managing staff and negotiating with colleagues.

What surprised me about my career so far

Although certain aspects of Financial Services changed massively during my career, certain core skills remained highly relevant, especially people skills, numeracy and the ability to communicate clearly both verbally and in writing.

Where I hope to be in 5 years

I would like to continue to work part-time in a variety of different roles that I find interesting and challenging.

My advice to students considering work

Unless you particularly want to pursue a specific career (perhaps one related to your degree) then keep a broad mind in terms of what industries you are prepared to consider. There are some amazing jobs in industries that may seem a bit boring and conventional when viewed from outside - and some unattractive jobs within industries that appear glamorous.

My advice about working in my industry

Recognise that a significant proportion of the job opportunities in Financial Services are within companies' head offices, and that these tend to be concentrated in certain areas of the country, especially London and the south-east. So choosing a career in Financial Services may well determine where you live.

Other advice

In my experience when it comes to promoting staff the attributes that managers particularly value are people who work hard and deliver on their promises, who are good team players and who are low-maintenance in terms of the amount of emotional support that they need

Contacting me

I am happy to answer questions and also to act as a mentor. I can probably be of most use to someone considering a career in Financial Services or as an administration manager. Over the years I have had a lot of experience of recruiting staff, and am happy to conduct dummy interviews to give experience of the interview process and also to provide coaching on assessment centres.

What I do

I am now semi-retired but previously worked in Financial Services for 30+ years. I had a variety of roles during that time, including selling insurance, branch office supervisor, and project management, but my main two roles were (1) Director of Administration responsible for 150 staff who provided service to the company's customers then (2) Compliance Officer, responsible for ensuring that the company complied with all relevant regulations relating to its business. Since retiring I have worked part time as a pension trustee and mystery shopper, and also do occasional work for the University of Cambridge.

Skills I use and how I developed them

As Director of Administration my main skill-set related to managing the staff reporting to me, and also negotiating with and influencing senior staff in other areas of the company, including Sales, Marketing and IT. As Compliance Officer I required a good level of knowledge of relevant regulations and the ability to negotiate with other senior managers to ensure that their areas complied with the regulations. I also liaised with staff at the various external regulatory bodies.

What I like most

The work was varied and challenging, and involved dealing with other staff at all levels. Although annual objectives were set for myself and my area, working in a senior role I was largely able to manage my own time and decide my own priorities provided the objectives were met. I had the opportunity to travel extensively in the UK visiting the company's branches and also had numerous trips abroad. As an industry Financial Services pays well and offers good benefits in terms of pensions & health care etc.

What I like least

Workloads could be heavy and require long hours to achieve deadlines, especially when hosting visits by regulatory bodies.

What surprised me most

Different areas within a company can have quite conflicting aims and objectives and negotiating plans with other areas can be a challenge. Companies in the private sector can be quite ruthless when it comes to implementing changes, including cutting jobs to save costs.

Next steps...

If you like the look of Rob’s profile, the next steps are down to you! You can send Rob a message to find out more about their career journey. If you feel you would benefit from more in-depth conversations, ask Rob to be your mentor.

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