On Thursday, June 22nd, the Young Leaders Group assembled a highly distinguished panel of speakers from different parts of finance – Valerie Bannon of BlackRock, Sanjay Arora of Raymond James, Carly Levin of JPMorgan, Veena Ramaswamy of CommonBond, and Morgan Downey of Money.Net. The discussion was moderated by Mary Catherine Macaluso, VP of Executive Communications at Oppenheimer. The keynote speaker, Valerie Bannon started off by discussing major changes and dilemmas faced by millennials when trying to develop a meaningful career. Today, career and business is more about making the difference. Profit is no longer the only way to measure a success.
From a recruiting perspective, the financial industry is going through a transformation as well. BlackRock and other firms had to adapt in order to deal with the brain drain to technology companies. Liberal arts and science majors are now more welcome to apply and earning an MBA is no longer a prerequisite to advance. Internal drive, quality of work experience and ability to adapt are the key ways to succeed.
During the panel discussion, a few additional themes were discussed. The technology has drastically impacted the pace of change. Many financial institutions embraced it, and view it as a key to increase efficiency, lower cost and develop better financial products. Morgan Downey of Money.net noted that every firm needs to innovate in order to remain relevant. Competing only by price is no longer an option. In addition, financial data is now more readily available. The key to success is the ability to make sense of that information in an efficient and unique way. Application of artificial intelligence (that removes human element from the equation) might allow us to draw unbiased and more meaningful conclusions.
As for the career advice, panelists mentioned that the sooner you can find out what you’re passionate about, the better. Secondly, get as close to content as possible. Third, be willing to embrace negative feedback. Lastly, demonstrate how you can add value rather than asking what the firm can do for you. It is important to remain humble and adaptable in order to succeed.