Money & Life: Bulletproof your career - Michelle Gibbings

In this article featured on the Money & Life website, Michelle offers six tips to stay at the top of your game in a world of increasing technological complexity.

Technology is changing how we live and work, and financial planners aren’t immune to that change. Already there are ‘robo-advisers’, which provide automated investment strategies based on the client’s time horizon and risk appetite. Clients also expect financial advice to be fully integrated, mobile, easily accessible and efficiently sourced, requiring the use of the latest available technology and applications.

It can be easy to sit back and watch change happen. However, it is far more effective to be the early adopter and stay ahead of the game. Here are six tips to help you achieve that.

1. Elevate your awareness

Genpact’s 2017 research found that only a quarter of people are concerned about artificial intelligence’s (AI) impact on the workforce right now; rather, they are more concerned about what it means for their children or later generations.

However, research from multiple sources has highlighted the impact that AI and robotics will have on the type of jobs available, and the skills required. For example, the World Economic Forum’s Future of Jobs report found that 35 per cent of core skills will change between 2015 and 2020.

This disconnect between what’s happening and the willingness of people to accept and get ready for it, is the classic human behavioural trait of ignoring the change and thinking (or perhaps hoping) it will go away.

2. Use scenario planning

Just as organisations undertake scenario planning to help them investigate and plan for potential changes and risks, so too can financial planners.

PwC, in its report, ‘What will work look like in 2030’, outlined four potential future of work scenarios based on the way people and organisations focus on collective or individual needs and gain, and operate in an integrated or fragmented manner.

Using such scenarios, you can look ahead and examine where your industry, organisation and career is heading, and determine hypothetically how far you need to pivot and adapt.

3. Never be complacent

Career success is never guaranteed, and past career success is never a guarantee of future success.

It’s essential to periodically assess your career and uncover whether you are in a rut or holding on to an unrealistic, outdated view of your career.

The best way to do this is to apply the standard strategic planning approach, and ask yourself: ‘Where am I now?’, ‘Where do I want to be?’, and ‘What do I need to do to get there?’

By examining your current state and comparing against desired goals, you are able to identify any gaps in progress and determine what else you need to do.

As part of this, get clear on the value you offer and keep that value offering current. Everyone brings certain skills and ways of operating to the work they do. It’s essential to be able to articulate that value and know when it’s getting dated.

4. Adapt to the new rules of work

The old career rules were based on a person having a job for life or working in a few organisations and roles throughout their career. This required one role at a time, with relatively fixed hours, and the person was a ‘job taker’ – taking the job on offer, which typically had no defined end date. In this environment, career success was about linear progression.

In contrast, the new career rules see people working across multiple organisations and functional areas through their career life cycle. The person becomes a ‘job maker – selecting career choices that align to their lifestyle, skills, competencies and ambitions. In this environment, career success is about staying ahead of the curve and being ready for the tides of change.

5. Find your learning edge

Continued success requires a constant desire to learn. It can be easy to let learning fall aside – thinking: ‘I know all I need to know’.

The quest for knowledge and understanding never ends, particularly in a world of increasing connectedness and complexity. It’s not enough to hone and refine your capability in your technical and professional areas of expertise. Instead, you need to go both broad and deep, as this can lead to further questions and new insights.

6. Keep mentally and physical sharp

There are always going to be good days, and not so good days, and so managing your energy is critical:

  • Map out your schedule and include time for you. When you are busy it can be hard to prioritise yourself. However, your body needs time to rejuvenate to ensure it’s best placed to thrive in a complex, changing world.
  • Don’t waste your energy on things outside your control. Stephen Covey in his book ‘The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People’ explained how you are far better to focus your energy on those matters you can influence. However, we often spend our energy on things we are concerned about, but have little or no influence on.

As Salim Ismail, the author of Exponential Organisations, said: “Today, if you’re not disrupting yourself, someone else is; your fate is to be either the disrupter or the disrupted. There is no middle ground”.