- Lauren Jones wasn’t only good at banking but she also had a very successful banking career and a resume full of one-of-a-kind roles and experiences.
- Over time, Jones’ job like any other job became a significant part of her identity and a description of who she is.
- By the time Jones left her recent banking role, the decision had been years in the making.
- Jones’ success has always been based on trust and relationship building and being able to do what is right all the time.
I left a job I loved.
Let me rephrase that – I left a job I once loved and was deeply loyal to.
How Did it Begin?
When I started my career in banking in 1998 as a teller, I would have told you I will not have a career in banking. Yet, here I am, 25 years later, with a very successful banking career and a resume full of one-of-a-kind roles and experiences. Everything I know about business, teamwork, finance, relationship building, sales, business plans, comes from a very solid run in the finance industry. It has shaped me into who I am today.
I didn’t just enjoy my work, I absolutely loved it. I loved working. I loved meeting new people and closing deals. My behaviors and lifestyle were attuned to business; I ran strategy sessions for large teams, and led successful collaborations. It was truly amazing!
What Did I Learn?
Here are 8 takeaways from my career as a banker, which should explain exactly why it was such a significant part of my journey:
- If you’re going to sell it, you’ve got to love it. I’ve always believed that you never really work a day in your life if you truly love what you do. For me, most of my banking career felt less like work and more like doing what I genuinely enjoyed and loved.
- Align your values. Over time, my job in banking became a significant part of my identity. When you’re constantly growing, thriving and creating value for others, it goes beyond the conventional notions of a job. It becomes a meaningful part of who you are.
- Have an opinion. The finance industry is a competitive one and operates at a lightning fast pace, which keeps it fresh and exhilarating. This environment pushed me to think on my feet, and make quick and sharp decisions. These are qualities that continue to help me in every sphere of my life.
- People are important. I made some of my closest and dearest friends through my career in banking. I consider myself lucky to have such brilliant people in my life. Being a ‘banker’ turned out to be a blessing full of challenges and growth opportunities..
- Always keep learning. The intellectual stimulation in the world of finance is next level. It is here I developed a strong love of learning and gained insights into new markets, industries and evolving business processes. I gained a treasure trove of knowledge.
- Travel. Another fun aspect of my job was the wonderful global exposure and extensive travel experiences I had. I traveled all over the country; my job contributed greatly to broadening my horizons.
- Connections are key. Beyond the numbers and transactions, banking is fundamentally about people and relationships. Building trust and rapport with clients, customers and colleagues is a skill that has continued to serve me well beyond my banking career, enriching my everyday life.
- Make sure you feel good. One of the most gratifying aspects of a career in finance is knowing that your work contributes to positive change and the overall economy. I’m always grateful for the opportunity to have made a lasting impact through my journey in banking.
Why Did I Leave?
With that being said, I’ve been all over the world in the last 10 years, meeting thousands of people, and sitting with CEOs and CFOs of huge companies, yet I didn’t feel fulfilled.
By the time I left my most recent banking role, the decision had been years in the making. I was successful not only because I worked hard and was surrounded by talented people, but because I was good – maybe even great – at building relationships and identifying unique ways to help businesses, people, and families. At some point though it didn’t feel fun anymore and I didn’t know what to do about it.
Truth be told, I’d wanted out of banking since 2019, but life got in the way and slowed things down a bit. However, when a career turns into a job again and relationships are not what the company wants to encourage and drive, something’s got to give.
Quick secret: Every banker you know doesn’t want to be a banker. It’s not a “making millions” job, but it is a comfortable job and can provide for a very good life. If you’re a banker and you’re reading this, you know there’s a part of you waiting for a client to offer you a different position, or you’re dipping your toe into some side hustle, or at a minimum you’re playing the lottery. Every banker has a dream of being the Lotto-winning client, with a banker of their own like an accessory.
The finance world is upside down. Some may say it’s the economy, or the political landscape, or the aftermath of the pandemic that is creating a corporate and banking culture that isn’t sustainable for keeping and attracting the pipeline of talent. The industry is awash with rigid, stiff values that miss the bigger picture of humanity.
Big companies are not making big leaps to change their culture. They might be checking some boxes, but in my experience, they would rather help you leave than find the root of a problem. They would rather deal with you as a number than open their eyes to something bigger. The world is changing, and as individuals (whether we’re an employee, entrepreneur, parent) we have got to be ready to take care of ourselves, but more importantly, join hands to do it together.
Did I Make the Right Decision?
The recent decision I made to call a timeout on business development in banking was not made lightly. And to be honest, going through the transition created unexpected challenges. Getting paid to sell products by calling them solutions, or creating financial plans to sell, has never been my cup of tea. My success has always been based on trust and relationship building and being able to do what is right – all the time. Believe me, it didn’t start that way. Working for a large banking corporation is a “work hard, play hard” world.
However, the wider world of work is all changing and traditional institutions like banks are going to be behind the curve. We have to be able to do what is right, without question. Staying in this corporate world would have meant building connections for reasons that didn’t align with my values, and asking people to trust something that I didn’t trust myself.
I believe in paying it forward, so others can learn from my journey. If one person finds inspiration from this article or makes a valuable life change faster than they would have, it will have been worthwhile.
Jumping off the ladder and pulling off the corporate expressway became the only option for me. Making a change as drastic as this was a huge transition. But when it comes to aligning with our values, creating boundaries, and living a bigger life, we have to be true to ourselves!
It’s Never Too Late To Start
Lauren Jones views putting herself out there as a definitive success. Here are 4 summary thoughts on change:
- Like Eric Shinseki said, “If we don’t like change, we will like irrelevance even less.” We must recognize that change is a constant in life, and we can choose to be proactive for the benefit of our personal and professional life, or be reactive and let it control us.
- It’s never too late to start becoming who you will be. I had a dream to help people and have a meaningful impact on others in a way that aligns with my authenticity. Either I can dream about it, or pause, think and take a chance. I chose the latter, understanding that the greatest risk in life is not taking any risks at all.
- Beliefs aren’t always learned; some of them are conscious choices and practices. Holding on to my dream required deliberate effort and trust in the vision I have for myself.
- Thoughts remain thoughts until we act on them. As scary as it might seem, it’s always the first step that is the toughest. Some actions are obvious, like enrolling in a course about the field you’re switching to, whereas others might need inner work.
The journey of leaving her banking career was a profound journey of personal growth and authenticity. This transition is an inspiring reminder that it is important to stay true to oneself and embrace change with confidence.