The British financial services industry is huge: as the eighth-largest in the OECD and with over a million jobs in it, it’s vital for the UK’s continued success. With high-stakes operations in all parts of the country, meanwhile, values-driven leadership built on strength and perseverance is clearly what keeps it moving forward. But what exactly is it that drives the CEOs, directors and partners in this industry, and what gives them the attitude they need to build on their success? Is it the chance to craft innovation in a changing environment? Or is it something more tangible, such as salary packages? This blog post will delve into these issues.
Creation of change
Financial services institutions are dynamic places that, in general, respond well to change. Just recently, for example, it was announced that major bank Morgan Stanley planned to offer a Bitcoin derivative product, and it now employs a head of digital assets to drive this kind of change. For a financial services leader, this sort of opportunity is exciting and innovative – and it’s a chance to leave a lasting legacy. Different leaders approach it differently, but to most there’s an element of problem-solving involved: in the Bitcoin example, banks will need to work out how to navigate the regulatory challenges while also ensuring that the organisation’s own assets are protected in the event of a Bitcoin crash or price bubble burst. As a leader, this kind of challenge is one to be relished rather than resented.
The internet is also driving this kind of change. It’s now possible to , and a number of industry leaders are using this kind of technology to both build on their abilities and to diversify their skills. With the internet predicted to offer more and more opportunities like this, it’s likely to only get more and more common as time goes on.
Salary and remuneration
It would be remiss, however, not to look at the financial side of the equation – especially given financial services firms tend to offer some of the highest salaries to their leaders. Most people are aware that high salaries are on offer in many sub-sectors of the corporate financial services industry: starting salaries in investment banking tend to be well above the national average, and it’s well-known that bonuses are a fact of life in the industry. It’s clear, then, that this forms part of the ncentive.
What exactly do these salaries look like? In Britain, the average starting salary for an investment banker can be close to £50,000. A trader with experience, meanwhile, can earn upwards of £150,000. However, for those who are on a leadership trajectory, the picture changes dramatically. The CEO of a major British bank, for example, can expect a salary of around £5m. It’s obvious, then, that there’s a real economic dimension to the role. For most leaders, the long hours and significant responsibility mean that a high salary is necessary. However, it’s also not the only incentive – and the fact that many financial leaders also derive satisfaction from other tasks such as management shows that the picture is complex.
For many leaders, the opportunity to teams is also part of the incentive. The financial services industry in Britain employs lots of people, and teams tend to be quite large. It’s a big reason why leaders often gravitate towards financial services in the first place. Other sectors, such in the start-up world, don’t have the same sorts of opportunities to manage and lead so many people.
The sorts of tasks that leaders perform in financial services can vary. For some, their role is to inspire. By leading the way on innovations such as new products or computerised trading, they have the power to direct entire teams one particular way and leave a lasting legacy for their organisation. Other leaders focus on day-to-day human resources tasks. The appointment of partners and directors, for example, can be exciting and rewarding.
The financial services industry, then, is a popular one for many reasons. Leaders in this sector are often driven by the chance to create change, especially in the excitement of the internet age. High salaries and remuneration packages are also appealing, while the opportunity to manage large and determined teams is also a benefit – and with the industry now adding nearly £120bn to the UK’s GDP every single year, it’s clear that these opportunities for leadership are only going to grow in the coming years.