Name: Katrina Brown
Degree and university: The University of Edinburgh, Mathematics with studies in Physics, Astronomy & Economics.
Title: Trainee Management Accountant / Finance Graduate, RBS
What do you actually do? As part of the Finance Graduate programme I work in a variety of different financial roles throughout RBS. At the moment I work in Group Technology Finance and have a Decision Support role. This involves providing financial support to different areas within Group Technology, preparing and analysing financial data, and producing budgetary and forecast information on projected spend for the area. This requires attendance at monthly meetings with each division, and constant communication between teams.
Why did you decide on the financial sector? I originally wanted to be a Doctor or work in the pharmaceutical industry, but a degree in Maths soon changed these aspirations. It wasn’t until the end of my degree that I became particularly interested in the Financial Sector. The sheer scale of the different organisations and the vast breadth of opportunities which each presents really drove me to look further into a career within the Financial Sector. No two companies are the same, and within RBS alone the vast diversity of roles made me realise a vocation in the Financial Sector meant I could alter my career path as I progressed.
How did you find your course? Through internet search engines, university careers service, and financial service sector presentations. Most large companies or professional education providers travel to most universities, so use this as an opportunity to find out if it’s right for you!
Would you undertake further training in order to gain promotion? As part of the three-year RBS Finance Graduate Programme each graduate must complete a professional qualification in accountancy. I have chosen the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA) qualification, which requires three years of practical accountancy experience, and the completion of examinations.
RBS offers graduates the opportunity to study for CIMA or ICAS (Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland) qualifications, and offers them the essential support needed to complete the examinations while working in the financial sector.
What do you like the most about what you do and are there any downsides? The graduate programme at RBS is rotational, with six to nine month placements in many different areas of the business. Not only does this provide a vast variety of work and ever changing experiences through different placements, but each placement in itself provides diversity of work on a day-to-day basis. I am always working on new and interesting projects which provide me with an insight into the business and the way RBS operates. The diversity of work ensures everyday is different and provides a new challenge!
It can be hard juggling full time employment with studying for professional qualifications, but RBS provides each graduate with study days and exam leave for every exam, allowing adequate time for revision but without disconnecting you from your business area.
What strengths do you think you need to succeed in what you do? I personally feel effective time management and the ability to adapt quickly to the ever changing environment has helped me a great deal. You also need to have the ambition to drive your own career. The financial sector offers so many opportunities that you need to be willing and able to make important decisions when it counts, and take every opportunity which arises.
What advice would you give graduates coming into this area? Have a good work/life balance! You can be the hardest working and efficient employee, but you need to get the right balance between working, studying, and actually enjoying life.
Is there anything you would like to add?
Make sure you find the right job for you. There are so many different opportunities and areas within the financial sector, that it’s essential you take the time to research the area you are interesting in and make sure it’s the right thing for you!