In the course of our careers, it’s not uncommon to reach a crossroads where the path ahead is less about ascending the ladder and more about seeking a fulfilling and rewarding professional journey. Drawing on our experience, we understand that you might be contemplating a career change from banking, looking for something different but unsure about where to start or what to do.
Why a Career Change?
Banking has long been considered a stable, well-paying industry that offers excellent opportunities for growth. Yet, despite its myriad benefits, many people have chosen to leave banking for various reasons, from a desire for a better work-life balance to the pursuit of a passion or calling.
In a study by Lee, Kim, and Koo (2011), it was found that one of the primary reasons for a career change, especially among mid-career professionals, is a lack of job satisfaction. In the banking industry, this lack of job satisfaction might come from the high-stress environment, long hours, or the often transactional nature of the relationships.
This trend is backed by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, which reported that workers between the ages of 25 and 34 are more likely to change jobs than any other age group. Banking professionals are not immune to this trend.
Identifying Your Transferable Skills
Thanks to our practical knowledge, we know that the first step in any career change is identifying your transferable skills. For those in the banking industry, there are many. Transferable skills are those abilities that are valuable in many different contexts. They include hard skills, such as proficiency in a foreign language or the ability to use certain software, as well as soft skills, like communication or leadership.
Banking professionals have honed various transferable skills during their tenure, which can be invaluable in different industries. These include:
- Financial literacy: Knowledge of financial markets, products, and the economic landscape is a valuable asset in many sectors.
- Risk analysis: The ability to assess and mitigate financial risk is a sought-after skill, especially in sectors like consulting, insurance, and tech.
- Client relationships: Building and managing relationships with clients is a critical skill in any client-facing role, across numerous sectors.
- Data analysis: Banks are data-driven organizations, and employees often become adept at analyzing and interpreting complex data sets—a valuable skill in today’s data-driven economy.
- Project Management: Many roles in banking require juggling multiple projects at once, making project management a highly transferable skill.
- Sales and negotiation: Whether selling a banking product or negotiating a deal, these skills can be highly valuable in roles like sales, procurement, or business development.
Understanding your transferable skills will help you assess which industries and roles might be a good fit for your skill set.
Exploring Career Paths Outside Banking
Drawing on our experience, several professions offer viable and rewarding opportunities for banking professionals seeking a career change.
1. Financial consulting: Consulting firms value the analytical skills and deep understanding of financial systems that bankers bring to the table. The work often involves solving complex problems, strategizing, and advising clients, making it an attractive option for many former bankers.
2. FinTech: The financial technology sector offers a dynamic, fast-paced work environment. Bankers’ inside knowledge of the financial system, combined with tech skills, can lead to success in roles from project management to product development.
3. Non-profit sector: Many non-profit organizations require financial expertise to manage funds effectively, offer financial literacy programs, or perform impact analyses. This path can be fulfilling for those seeking a more meaningful application of their skills.
4. Academia: Some banking professionals may be drawn to teaching. Sharing your knowledge and experience with the next generation of business students can be incredibly rewarding.
5. Entrepreneurship: Many ex-bankers opt for starting their own businesses, using their financial expertise to ensure the financial health of their venture. Entrepreneurship allows you to be your own boss and offers enormous personal and professional growth potential.
Preparing for the Transition
Career transitions are significant undertakings that require careful preparation. If you’re considering a career change from banking, here are some practical steps to get you started:
1. Self-assessment: Reflect on what you want from your career, your values, passions, and lifestyle preferences. Career assessment tools like the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) or Holland’s RIASEC model can provide valuable insights.
2. Research: Investigate potential roles and industries, job responsibilities, required skills, and potential career paths. Informational interviews can be a valuable source of insider information.
3. Training and upskilling: Based on your research, identify any skills gaps you might need to fill. This might mean taking a course, gaining a certification, or learning a new software program.
4. Networking: Start building relationships in your chosen field. Networking can lead to job opportunities and provide valuable support during your transition.
5. Transition planning: Develop a realistic transition plan that includes clear goals and a timeline.
Conclusion on career change from banking
A career change from banking can be a profound and rewarding professional journey, offering new challenges and opportunities for personal and professional growth. Remember, you’re not just leaving banking—you’re heading towards a career that aligns more closely with your goals, values, and lifestyle.
Believe in your ability to adapt, learn, and grow. You’ve already demonstrated these skills in your banking career. Thanks to our practical knowledge, we’re confident that these attributes, coupled with a robust transition plan, can carry you successfully into your new career.
Remember, career changes are becoming increasingly common, and the skills you’ve gained in banking are valuable in many other fields. Whether you choose consulting, FinTech, the non-profit sector, academia, or entrepreneurship, your future is bright. Embrace the change and look forward to the opportunities ahead. Your career journey is just beginning!
 Lee, Y., Kim, Y., & Koo, J. (2011). Career Decision Status and Career Development Tasks of Nursing Students and their Relation to Perceived Career Barriers. Asian Nursing Research, 5(2), 95-102.
 U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2019). Employee Tenure Summary.
 Sherbin, L., & Rashid, R. (2017). Diversity Doesn’t Stick Without Inclusion. Harvard Business Review.
 Kharpal, A. (2017). Fintech is ‘resilient’ in a way tech isn’t, says Morgan Stanley. CNBC.
 Bregman, P. (2016). The Best Way to Use the Last Five Minutes of Your Day. Harvard Business Review.
 Sokan, A. E., Leverett, P., & Peake, J. (2013). The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator: A Tool for Understanding Your Approach to Leadership. Journal of Extension, 51(6), 1-4.
 Casciaro, T., Gino, F., & Kouchaki, M. (2014). Learn to Love Networking. Harvard Business Review.