• Role: Listed Derivative Sales
  • Location: London
  • University: Oxford
  • Degree: English Literature
  • Organisation: RBS

Jessica Hadley

Why did you choose a job in the industry?

When I left university, I wanted to go into a job where I kept developing, and continued to learn new things. For me, the opportunity to learn more about the way markets and the economy work was a big draw – I wanted to understand what it meant when the media tells me that GDP is picking up, or that there are problems in the eurozone.

At the moment, banking is undergoing some pretty huge changes. If you’ve been part of that from the beginning, you’re going to be in a much better position to understand the journey in 5-10 years’ time.

What do you do?

I work in Listed Derivatives Sales. It’s a little different to other sales roles – I work as a broker between the exchange and the client, trading futures and options on their behalf. Although we actually execute the trades, we don’t take any risk on our own book.

Day-to-day, this involves staying on top of market news, discussing our opinions with clients, and sending out trade ideas. It’s a really social role, with lots of client contact and the chance to take on a lot of responsibility very early.

What was the application process like?

To begin with, I had to complete an online application with details on my various qualifications, strengths and weaknesses. After taking some online tests to prove my numerical and analytical skills, I was invited to attend an assessment centre. The assessment centre was a full day of testing and interviews, and was a great opportunity to ask questions about RBS and meet other applicants.

Finally, I was interviewed by various desks within RBS. Although I was nervous, I found the process really interesting. It seemed that their priority was to see if I was a good ‘fit’ for the bank – more specialised skills can be learnt on the job.

What is RBS like for analysts?

I started as a graduate in September 2013 as part of the graduate scheme. This meant that I had over a month of training before I even got to the desk to ensure that I was ready for the role. As part of our introduction to RBS, we had a global induction week during which our colleagues from across America, Europe and Asia came to London so that we could all get to know each other.

There are a lot of support structures in place, and you can always ask other analysts for help if you’re trying to do something new – but at the same time, you’re expected to contribute to the desk as early as possible, which means you learn very quickly.

What skills are useful for your job?

Whilst it’s obviously important to be numerate, I think people skills are the most important for sales roles. Our business is becoming increasingly standardised, and the relationships you build with clients can be the key differentiator.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

My team is fantastic. There’s a flat management structure, with everyone sat at the desk together, and we all bounce ideas off each other. I know that I can go to any of them if I need help or advice.

I also enjoy learning more about markets, and the various economic forces which, eventually, have an impact on our own domestic sphere – from the exchange rates when we go on holiday, to how difficult it is to take out a mortgage.

What are the most stressful parts of the job?

It can be a little stressful when you’re given a new responsibility. Naturally, you want to prove to your colleagues that they were right to put their trust in you, but you also have to remember that it’s always okay to ask for help, and that it’s never going to be perfect first time.

My job can also be very fast paced. When it’s busy, you have to be able to stay in control and get through your tasks quickly and systematically. For me, though, the busy moments are the most exciting!

Do you have any advice for those looking to get into the industry?

Try to do an internship first. I didn’t – and I was lucky to end up doing something that I enjoy! – but it’s the best way to find out what you’re suited to.

Otherwise, just get used to thinking analytically. Why aren’t you getting higher interest rates in your savings account? Why does it matter? The more questions you ask, the quicker you’ll learn.

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