7 ways to accelerate career advancement for financial professionals

Ongoing professional and personal development is vital for financial practitioners to build on the knowledge and skills that will help them advance in their careers. Cindy Koh, Programme Director APAC Campus at BNP Paribas, shares how BNP Paribas motivates its employees to continually pursue their journey of self-development.


The financial services industry is undergoing dramatic changes, with banks embracing digitalisation, collaborating in strategic partnership with Fintech companies to improve their product offerings, and meeting evolving customer expectations.

In preparation for these changes, BNP Paribas, at the group level, invested €3 billion in digital transformation to build the bank of the future.

“Ongoing restructuring brings with it many uncertainties in the financial services industry,” Koh says. “Especially with the move towards Fintech and digitalisation, we need to equip our employees with the skills and competencies to adapt and innovate to meet the evolving demands of the market.”

Koh discusses how BNP Paribas is helping its employees achieve this through seven key learning and development initiatives.


1. Have career-development discussions

BNP Paribas believes in empowering employees to take charge of their own learning and self-development, and Koh says “career-development discussions are a good basis for goal-setting.”

It is important that Managers use these discussions to set a clear development path for employees and provide them with information about the training options to help them achieve their objectives.

“These discussions are also useful for charting personal progress towards objectives,” Koh says.


2. Set a certification roadmap

Professional certification offers financial practitioners a structured way to acquire the relevant skills needed to progress to the next stage in their careers. The IBF Standards are one such option. It offers industry-recognised certification for various sectors in the financial industry, including wealth management.

“The IBF Standards provide a structured skills roadmap that is benchmarked to industry standards for our employees,” Koh says. “For example, the IBF-approved Wealth Management Certification at BNP Paribas boosts the competency levels of our relationship managers and recognises them for professional excellence and integrity.”


3. Encourage cross-departmental learning

Sharing talent and expertise between departments helps employees develop a more holistic understanding of how the organisation operates, beyond the individual’s daily scope of work.

Supporting cross-departmental learning exposes employees to new skill sets and encourages them to develop insights and innovations they can bring back to their own departments.

“At BNP Paribas, we have introduced learning through transversal projects and partnerships; our Graduate Development Programme, Talent Development Programmes and Human Centred Design Programme are just some of these examples”.

“BNP Paribas also leverages on internal experts to deliver knowledge sharing sessions, examples of such are Lunch and Learn sessions that educate employees on products and services,” Koh adds.

4. Promote internal mobility

Highlighting success stories of how senior managers have built their careers within the organisation provides employees with a better understanding of the internal mobility opportunities available, the channels to pursue these opportunities and advice on optimising them.

“Career-sharing sessions that highlight the career paths of our successful senior managers serve to encourage and motivate our employees to explore internal opportunities and to develop their careers within the bank,” Koh says. “We have an annual Mobility Week to encourage staff to explore opportunities within the bank and to take ownership of their careers.”


5. Explore new ways of learning

As part of the BNP Paribas’ move towards digital transformation, BNP Paribas leverages on digital platforms to provide employees with regular career-planning and training webinars that they can access at their convenience at any time from their desks.

“The webinars focus on topics such as time management, making an impact and taking charge of your career,” she says.

BNP Paribas also holds career-coaching webinars for managers to ensure that they are equipped to support the development of their direct reports.


6. Dedicated Training Paths

Within the Bank, there are different training paths available for different businesses, employee profile and topics to help employees upskill themselves to meet current and future skills requirements.

For example, in the area of personal development, BNP Paribas offers a web-based learning programme that aims to help employees increase the knowledge and skills required to boost their productivity and effectiveness.

“Our Unleash Your Potential programme is targeted at employees who wish to kick-start their personal development and acquire useful tools and tips to enhance work performance,” Koh says. “ The modules include Discover Yourself, Build Your Resilience and Develop Your Brand.”


7. Conduct regular performance reviews

As employees manage their busy daily schedules and focus on the day-to-day challenges of their roles, it’s easy for them to overlook their long-term self-development.

That’s why BNP Paribas recommends conducting regular performance reviews or providing continuous feedback.

“This gives managers and employees the opportunity to discuss their development plan,” she says. “Employees should also be encouraged to look at their areas for improvement and identify possible solutions, including relevant training.”

Motivating employees to continue their self-development benefits not just the employee, but also the business. With a clear development path and training roadmap in place, financial practitioners will see a long-term future with the company, and will be motivated to develop the new skill sets to steer the organisation through the challenges of tomorrow.


For other financial practitioners who wish to take charge of their learning and development, they can use IBF MySkills Portfolio, an online platform, to set their personal training goals, and track their individual training and IBF Certification progress.

Looking to achieve your next career goal in the financial services industry? Check out how IBF’s MySkills Portfolio can help you start your journey of self-development today!