Top tips on moving from financial services to professional services

Alex Wilson, UK

Alex Wilson, Financial Services Tax Recruitment Adviser, offers his advice to financial services candidates looking to make the move into professional services.

In preparing yourself for a move into professional services you will spend time analysing what your strengths are but it’s worth making time to understand what skills and attributes firms are looking for in prospective candidates.

We have a set of core values at EY that underpin how we engage our clients and how we operate as a business.  When recruiting, we look for people who share these values and can demonstrate competencies that showcase these qualities.  In our aim to build a better working world the following competencies play a central role:

  • Teaming: Teaming is the engine of organisational change and drives the most successful business’ forward.  Professional services is often a problem solving-led environment and the most effective and dynamic way to thrive in that setting is through teamwork.  Think about what role you typically play in teams and how you take responsibility as an individual to ensure the success of the group.

  • Resilience: Life in professional services is fast-paced and challenging. When (not if) things go wrong, you'll need to have the resilience to dust yourself down and get going again.  Increasingly employers look for the maturity to persist and overcome failure as a key quality.  The changing regulatory landscape in financial services has required us in FS Tax to support clients in tackling these complex issues.  The ability to overcome setbacks forms a crucial component to building a successful career.

  • Commercial awareness: Professional services puts you at the heart of the business world - you need to ensure that you demonstrate good commercial acumen to keep up.  A career in the professional services sector does tend to be weighted towards problem solving so you need to have the ability (and interest) to draw conclusions from data in a commercial context.  Working with global financial services clients, we have to employ a commercial mind-set that considers the complexities of their marketplace ensuring we provide the best solution. 

  • Building relationships: Don't let the daily stats and figures dazzle you into thinking that this isn't a people-focused industry. Professional services is a very people-driven sector, which means you'll be working with clients and colleagues in tight-knit teams. You'll need to demonstrate that you can work alongside different people, with varied skill sets and backgrounds. Strong relationships built on empathy, understanding and the ability to listen is key. 

  • Adaptability: The most successful employees in any business never stand still, they drive their own development.  Like many other disciplines Tax is evolving through influences such as technology and legislative change. In a rapidly evolving workplace being adaptable and agile to change may be the most important attribute of all. 

Career summary to date

I graduated from Brighton University with a 2.1 in History and began my working life in mortgage underwriting at Britannia Building Society.  I moved into Recruitment in 2010 working for Reed as a consultant recruiting HR professionals in London.  After three successful years building my expertise in HR Recruitment, I stepped into an in-house role for a financial services provider recruiting for a much broader scope of skillsets across various hubs in the UK, before joining EY in 2014 as a Recruitment Adviser.        

I work in a team dedicated to finding the best talent for our Financial Services Tax service line.  This involves a range of tasks and responsibilities including talent mapping, head hunting, working on attraction methods alongside our branding team, managing the candidate journey and building relationships with partner groups stakeholders.

I am a huge sports fan and occasional participant.I have ran a couple of marathons in the last 2 years raising money for the Royal Marsden Hospital which is a charity close to my heart.Being new to running marathons I found the EY running club groups helpful for tips and to learn that everyone else finds the training as arduous as I do!I also enjoy playing in an EY 5-a-side football team as often as I can and getting out on the golf course. 


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