The workplace integrated learning (WIL) program has been one of the most positive experiences in my four years at university. It has been an eye opening experience to say the least. I’ve been placed in a financial planning firm, by the name of Brisbane Financial Services (BFS).
I came into the role having a fairly decent idea of what was involved, though even then there were plenty of surprises. There’s not as much mathematics or university-related tools used as I’d anticipated. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing; in fact it’s made for a far more enriching experience. It’s taught me a lot about the importance of soft skills in the workplace and emphasized the importance of character traits. For example, initiative, communication and intuition are all really important when you’re working in a team. The job itself is very client focused. The main challenge comes from the obstacle of information asymmetry. You’ll know a lot more about investing and these complex products that you’re trying to set your clients up with. This makes communication skills highly valuable.
The exposure that I’ve had to such a niche roll has been invaluable. Moreover, it’s taught me that the hard skills you’ll acquire during your studies aren’t everything. In saying that though, you’ll still definitely get the chance to relate your studies back to the real world. I’ve been able to apply some of the overlying theories to my time spent at BFS. These include The Efficient Market Hypothesis and active vs passive investing styles. When you’re in such a client-facing role, you really get a new perspective on whether investors are rational or not. There are definitely opportunities to relate your university studies to what is going on in the work place.
In summary, it’s been really interesting to get a hands on experience for a job that is quite alternative to the rest of the finance industry. It’s shown me that if you really enjoy people, or client-based work, there’s a place for you in finance. Overall, I’d highly recommend students to apply for WIL. It’s a chance to broaden your horizons in ways you could never expect.