Blog: Finding my dream career in financial services

Nicholas 'Nik' Bobb seated surrounded by his family. From left to right his sister Melissa, father Carlton and mother Jacinta

Never in a million years would I have said that I would work in financial services when I was at school but here I am and I love it.

My dad had an accountancy background but I never thought I would pursue a similar route when I was a teenager. I went to Queensferry High School at a time when all of my friends were looking to either join the armed forces or pick up a trade after they finished school.

You could say it was an accident that I have the career I have today. When my careers adviser reviewed the subjects I was good at: maths, physics, economics and accounts it was suggested my skills were best suited to a job in a bank.

“That’s a stupid idea,” was my response. But I had a very good and patient careers advisor.

The thing is, I could never imagine myself working in financial services because I didn’t fit the image of what I thought was necessary for the role. Not only did I think it would be boring but I didn’t think anyone who looks like me worked in financial services.

Yes, my dad worked for a Pension company but on the odd Saturday that I would go with him to his work I seldom saw another Black, Asian or minority ethnic person. I thought, this industry isn’t for me.

I had doubts I was smart enough to land a job within the financial services firm but my career advisor was very reassuring. She explained to me that the good grades I had achieved meant I was more than qualified to pursue that route.

I followed in the footsteps of my late dad and studied Actuarial Mathematics and Statistics at Herriot Watt.  After completing summer placements within the industry which was the launchpad for what has been a 15 year career as: an analyst, risk manager and project manager to name a few, all within the financial services industry. I have a fulfilling career and happy, comfortable home with my wife Jennifer and five-year-old son.

Some people have preconceptions that you have to have an established network of connections in order to make any progress in this industry. My dad however is evidence that’s not the case. He left a life of poverty in Trinidad and Tobago and found a much more rewarding and fulfilling lifestyle in the UK.

Some men in Trinidad and Tobago in the 1970s may have taken the wrong path and suffered the consequences. However, my dad was extremely driven, determined and entrepreneurial. After a short time running errands for the oil and gas vessels that would dock at the islands he managed to convince the Captain of one ship to allow him conduct the accounts, which he did more efficiently than their incumbent.  That was his first steps into the industry, he saved his money and in 1981 him and his new wife (my mum) came to Scotland - realising his money would last much longer here than in London.

My dad started his network from nothing. The connections he had were useful but bespoke to his career and certainly didn’t provide me with a pathway to where I am now.

I managed to get my foot in the door with good grades, I proved myself through hard work, curiosity and a flair for problem solving. As for my network, I built it from scratch through my love of conversation.

My race has been irrelevant in my career, never a barrier. But I know, first-hand, that if you can’t see someone like you doing a particular job it might make it less appealing. I am so pleased to see more and more diverse teams and industry leaders within financial services.

I look forward to future opportunities in my career at HSBC. I also hope my role within the SFE as the Programme Manager for the Financial Services Unified Schools Programme will encourage young adults from all backgrounds to explore a career in financial services.

 

Nicholas “Nik” Bobb
Project Manager at HSBC