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Welsh Financial Services Graduate Case Study: Tom Richards

About you

NAME: Tom Richards
AGE: 24

What appealed to you about the WFSGP?

After graduating in 2014, I had applied for a few Master’s courses in both business and law thinking I would need to expand my academic knowledge to be successful in the job market. I soon realised the cost of these qualifications, with no guarantee with a graduate position at the end of it, was not worth it.

I then worked in Brecon for a year whilst applying for all the main stream graduate programmes with not much luck. When I came across the WFSGF on Reed, I couldn’t believe my luck. Not only was it a

Graduate programme with access to some of the largest employers in south Wales, but also included a fully funded Master’s. The ability to experience different company cultures whilst applying the academic theory makes the WFSGP scheme unique!

Did you ever consider a career in financial services?

To be honest, I didn’t fully appreciate the different roles in financial services – I assumed it was purely insurance and banking. The industry is huge, from marketing to analytics, there are so many job routes open to graduates.

Tell us about your experience of the Programme so far?

I was first placed in the Wholesale department in GM Financial. This was excellent placement, where I learnt the ins and outs of how car dealers fund the vehicles on their forecourts. Not only this, I had the opportunity to spend time in different departments including collections, being involved in fraud cases of stolen identifies was particularly interesting.

I then moved to BBC Finance where I was placed in a project role to create a new finance team of 20 individuals. This again was a great placement, testing my planning and time management skills but also a great deal of problem solving. At this time, we were also studying the Project Management module in the Master’s so I could directly apply theory to practice!

I decided to move out of a project role and try something outside of my comfort zone – finance. I subsequently completed my third and fourth placements in the finance team itself in BBC. I have developed a strong knowledge of finance but also I have been lucky enough to get involved in a range of accounting activities.

Have you been able to apply skills from your degree?

Yes – certainly the finance modules I studied during my degree have come in useful in the BBC. I have also significantly enhanced my softer skills, from communication to dealing with conflict.

What are your future plans and how has the programme helped to reach your goals?
Based on my experience in finance, I am now considering starting my professional accountancy exams to become an accountant. The programme has been invaluable – for recent graduates, the BBC is a very hard company to secure a job in. I have been fortunate to spend 18 months here and have now been offered a permanent position.

What is the best thing about the WFSGP?

For me, it’s all the interesting people you meet. It’s great to catch up with the fellow grads on Wednesday afternoon’s in Uni (catch up on all the gossip!). You’ll also work closely with University staff who help guide you through all the assignments.

Not only the other graduates but you’ll develop working relationships with colleagues in the various companies/departments. You’ll also have the opportunity to make contacts with senior executives in the companies, you may be fortunate to be invited to a meeting, or you could simply start talking to them in the canteen. These contacts you build in the 2 years are invaluable and you should take the opportunity to meet as many people as possible.

Are there any tips or advice you would give someone who was thinking about applying for the grad programme?

If you are open for new experiences and are willing to learn, then just simply apply for the grad scheme. There are a wide range of roles on offer – the experience you can gain on the programme could open your eyes to a new career in financial services.

Any advice for the making the most of the Programme?

Get involved in everything that you possibly can. Grab any opportunity to spend time with other teams or travel to meet clients – all of these experiences are priceless and will put you in a great position to secure your perfect job.