David Press, Managing Director - DMJ Recruitment
Corporate Governance offers an increasingly broad remit of work and a variety of industry sectors and while this is seen as a positive for most, some (especially junior level candidates and graduates entering the field) can feel overwhelmed by the differences between levels, roles and industries.
Choosing your governance career path early is often important for budding governance professionals as, depending on the sector, moving from one to another can be difficult. For example, Financial Services would not usually hire a candidate coming from a non- profit organisation for a mid-level position or higher as the remit and responsibilities are too different. It’s important for those new to the industry to keep the skills and responsibilities gained in their next role in mind when considering a long-term career path.
Below catalogues the important industry sectors, their pros and cons and hinderances when jumping from one sector to another. This is information consistently requested by graduates and junior-level governance professionals when considering their next positions and overall career journeys.
I specialise in financial services and it’s my favourite sector to discuss with candidates.
When most hear financial services, they think of banking however, there are actually many areas to choose from such as Asset Management, Private Equity, Fintech and Insurance - all of which have their own regulations and cultures.
All financial services positions offer board support, subsidiary governance, board governance and regulatory work exposure. Many of them are also listed which means that regulated, listed, and subsidiary governance experience can all be received during early career stages. This variety and quality work experience is a huge benefit when the time comes to search for a new role.
However, working in a heavily regulated industry can be overwhelming. Even though the financial services offer one of the highest salary ranges in the market, the culture is usually highly corporate and there is a fast-paced volume of work and a wide complexity of subject matters.
Professional services is a great place to start a governance career because of the amount/variety of exposure and the work-life balance received. Training and development is front and centre and while working for a service provider, you will receive a great deal of client facing exposure which will build great communication techniques & skills while gaining exposure to a wider market. You have responsibility over a diverse client portfolio within the private company, listed and regulated space. Professional services can be split in to three categories: The Big 4, corporate service providers and small-mid size accountancy firms & law firms. The Big 4 will provide exposure to FTSE100 and large international clients and complex transactional work such as IPO’s. Many corporate service providers will often provide exposure to similar listed clients and project work but also often balance this within smaller teams and a good work life balance. Smaller accountancy & law firms will provide more statutory compliance and entity management exposure alongside a good work-life balance. It is worth noting that professional services salaries are usually not as competitive as in financial services and a qualification is required when moving to a manager role (Assistant Company Secretary and above).
I would highly recommend reading the following article about moving into professional services and reaching out to Leena Myers at DMJ to speak with about the pros & cons of this sector. Click here to learn more.
PLC (not including listed Financial Services and Insurance organisations)
The majority of governance professionals call PLC the “Gold standard of governance”. PLC companies such as members of the FTSE100 & FTSE250 and aim listed & small cap are famous for providing complex corporate governance frameworks. They also offer a more detailed and high-quality experience that brings an opportunity to be valued in different industry sectors.
FTSE100 organisations can also be multi-listed and provide opportunities to receive an international level of exposure and the ability to work with different individuals and cultures. FTSE100 companies tend to have larger teams and provide the opportunity to work with senior stakeholders from an early stage which will give you invaluable access and experience. FTSE250 and others provide similar advantages but usually have a smaller team and less varied exposure. There will also be opportunities to work for big household names which offer networking opportunities while learning from the biggest and best.
PLC work is certainly a big ticket for candidates however, due to its complexity there is a perception of not receiving much variation. The size of the team usually influences the variety as well – larger teams tend to lead to more specialised individuals and a slightly more monotonous professional existence.
Working for a non-profit company can be a great experience, not only for your career but also your soul.
One benefit is receiving access to board level stakeholders from day one. Due to the smaller teams, your work will be broader, less specialised and junior candidates who spend up to two years working within the sector will usually obtain a greater level of exposure to AGMs, annual reports and advisory work compared to other sectors.
Non-Profit organisations can generally be split up into five different areas. Charities, Membership organisations, Education, NHS and Regulated (Pensions and sustainable investments would fall into this category). Charity and NHS sectors have their own regulations and many candidates at the junior stage of their career wishing to move to the private sector can make the switch to financial services much easier than other sectors. Education and NHS both provide a high level of minuting experience whereas pension companies are highly transferable, offer technical work and provide, on average, a higher salary range.
Despite being a great learning experience and having the opportunity for more exposure, there are also disadvantages to working within a non–profit organisation. They usually have a lower salary range than the private sector, and are known to have slower team progression. Finally, by staying within a non–profit organisation until you reach a senior level, your chances of moving into a private sector (at the same level) will be reduced due to a lack of experience working with large international organisations.
If you have any further questions, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org