Last year, our Young Professional Brendan moved from South Africa to the Netherlands to start a new job here. He wanted to go overseas to expand his career, travel, and see what Europe has to offer. He loves The Netherlands and enjoys every moment of it. Brendan is currently working for more than a year as a Junior Investment Professional at one of the largest banks in the Netherlands. In his job he deals with announcement captures; all corporate action-related events from institutional investors. Curious to learn more about Brendan’s journey to becoming a Young Professional? Keep reading below!
How did you experience your path to your current job with us?
“I enjoy it and I’ve learned so much in the first couple of months already! I have a bunch of colleagues who are also international, which is quite nice because we all have our separate stories from different places. Before I came to The Netherlands, I had some prior experience in the investment world. But back in South Africa, it was more on a retail basis where I was dealing with an individual client. Now I’m dealing with institutional clients, which is a big jump but opens the door for so many more opportunities. So far I can’t complain, it’s been going quite smoothly, coming into an industry where I was quite new to!”
And what is something specific that you have learned in your first year?
“I’ve learned that working in the retail space and then transitioning to the institutional space has expanded my understanding of the financial industry. In South Africa, when I was seeking a position at an investment firm, I was involved in the entire process, from opening client accounts to trading and ongoing management. Now, I realize that I occupy a niche role within the broader institutional framework, and it’s astonishing to see the scale of it all. From a learning perspective, I’ve gained valuable insights into the inner workings of various departments and how different sub-teams collaborate on specific tasks. In contrast to my previous experience, where I handled the entire process, here, I contribute to a larger organizational puzzle, which has been an enlightening experience.”
Did you always know you wanted to do something in Finance?
“It was a predetermined path for me. I pursued a Finance degree at university, which set the foundation. However, it’s interesting that in my final year of studies, I got involved with a small investment corporation that wasn’t necessarily leading me to think, “I’m going to work in an investment bank.” So, I was fortunate to have a somewhat diverse path. As I progressed, I discovered what aspects of the job I enjoyed and what I didn’t. Nevertheless, finance has always been my background. I’d say to others entering the field, or those who think finance is solely about numbers and spreadsheets, that it encompasses much more. Employers often emphasize that finance has broader aspects to it. I love finance and foresee myself continuing in this field for the next decade, maybe even starting my own company someday. But for now, my focus is here. I’ve been fortunate to receive a lot of support along the way, including studying at a reputable university and people providing me with employment opportunities. It has thankfully led me to where I am today, and I’m genuinely enjoying every moment of it. I’ve come to realize that learning is an ongoing process in this journey.”
What advice would you offer to Young Professionals who are just kick-starting their careers?
“One piece of advice I’d offer is that you shouldn’t expect your first job to be perfect; it’s unlikely to be. Your initial job serves as a learning experience to help you figure out what you enjoy and what you don’t. I went through this process when I was in South Africa. Fortunately, I had some prior experience, which gave me a sense of what to expect in my current role. However, for Young Professionals entering the job market, especially in the financial sector, it’s common not to have a clear-cut career path or a predefined daily routine. It’s crucial to explore various opportunities, and if a particular job doesn’t align with your interests or goals, that’s okay—it means you’ve gained insight, and you can use that knowledge to move forward and find a better fit.”