How to Succeed in Your New Finance Job

  • By AFP Staff
  • Published: 12/21/2023

Coworkers smiling in a meetingWith every new job comes a set of unspoken rules you won’t find in the onboarding guide.

Whether this is your first job out of college or you’re joining a new company, following the five tips below will help you to succeed in your new job.

1. Be respectful and ask questions.

The number of unwritten rules is numerous, and they’re different for every company, team and manager. Most of them you’ll learn by observing; however, there are two basics you can start out with on Day 1.

First, be respectful — of everyone. Every person you interact with deserves to be treated with respect and kindness, from the parking garage attendant to the CEO. “Respect goes a long way over time,” said Frank Dotro, Head of Global Liquidity Distribution for Invesco Global Liquidity.

Second, ask questions. People don’t expect you to know upon walking in the door how quickly you’re supposed to answer emails, how often your manager wants to meet with you, or how you should handle a specific situation, so ask. And make sure you understand the answer; ask clarifying questions if needed.

“Too many times in my career, I’ve seen things fail because people were afraid to ask a question,” said Dotro. “And as a manager, if someone didn’t ask for clarity, you need to understand why and fix it immediately.”

2. Educate yourself about your new role.

In order to gain a better understanding of your new role, start by asking your manager who the people are, either on the team or in partner groups, who can provide you with the most valuable insights. Once you get some names, set up individual meetings with them — and, of course, tell them why.

In the meetings, ask them about their careers, the team, and any specific details you would like clarity about. Be prepared to talk about yourself and why you joined the company. And, because learning should be an ongoing practice, ask if it would be all right to reach out to them in the future if you have more questions or need additional guidance.

Also, general information about your role can be found in industry newsletters and on websites, so be sure to subscribe to these sources. Take the necessary steps and invest the time to educate yourself.

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3. If you need help, ask.

Particularly in the beginning, you are bound to be tasked with something you don’t know how to do, or for which you weren’t given enough information. Think about a similar situation you’ve experienced in the past and try to apply the same skills that got you through that situation.

Once you’ve gone as far as you can on your own, go to either your manager or the person who tasked you with the project, and explain to them exactly what you’ve done so far, the steps you’ve taken, who you’ve talked to (if it’s a lack of information, find out who can provide further clarity), and what you do and do not understand. Ask them what they think of your approach. They can help guide you from there.

Remember, be respectful of anyone and everyone you engage with. “People want to help those they like; it’s just human nature,” said Dotro. “The more respectful you are, the more people will try to help you.”

4. Meet with these people in your first 90 days.

There are some people you should meet with during your first 90 days on the job. The first is, of course, your direct supervisor. Set a regular check-in time with them; ask how often they think you should meet — daily, weekly, monthly?

Always come prepared for your check-ins. Your direct supervisor will want to hear about the projects you’re working on, but also be prepared to ask about things you’ve heard others speak of that you’d like to know more about. Additionally, ask for feedback on your performance and whether there is anything that you should be giving more (or less) attention to.

Second, set up meetings with your teammates, and with any partners from other teams or departments with whom you’ll be working on a regular basis.

Third, see if there is anyone else who is new to the company — anyone who came on board around the same time as you. Arrange to get coffee or eat lunch together. While they may be in a completely different role and/or department from you, you still share a similar experience in being new to the company. “It’s always good to talk to people with a similar perspective,” said Dotro.

5. Find a mentor.

Mentors have valuable experience and knowledge of a role or industry and can give you advice on challenges you face. They can introduce you to people who can help advance your career, and they can serve as a sounding board. Because this is a relationship built on mutual trust, it may take time to develop — but it’s worth it.

Ask any successful person how they got where they are, and nearly all of them will mention a mentor, and sometimes more than one. Success is a team sport, so be sure to spend time building the team around you who will help guide your career, including your mentor(s).

A lot of big companies and organizations have mentorship programs. Be sure to find out if the program is focused on career development or development within the company, as those are two different goals. Both are helpful, but if you have a company-specific mentor, you’ll want to find someone outside the company (or outside the mentorship program) too.

How do you find a mentor outside of the company? Ask your manager if there is someone who has impacted their career success and how they met them. You can also ask your friends and look online for mentorship programs you can join.

“There are plenty of smart people around you who would be willing to help,” said Dotro.

Frank Dotro is the Head of Global Liquidity for the North America Institutional Sales team at Invesco. He leads a team of sales professionals in the United States who cover large financial intermediaries and institutional clients. Dotro has held multiple CFO and COO positions, including for J.P. Morgan Asset Management and the North America Institutional Business. He has worked in the financial industry since 2002.

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