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Question – Translating financial skills into social enterprise work

Your skills in any given area can be useful in other careers and areas of expertise if you know how to make the switch. Here are some top tips from our careers coach. 

Question: I have a bit of finance/banking experience (2yrs) but I am looking to pivot in the hopes of working at a social enterprise. What type of social enterprise should I consider as I want to use my finance skills for good? James 24, UK

Hi James, thanks for the question.

It’s very common for people to seek a pivot in the early years of their career, and your generation in particular seem keen to do more meaningful work with positive social impact, which is great.

It’s also sensible to think about how you can pivot based on your existing skills and experience, which is more achievable than jumping into something totally new.

My take

I think you’ve got four ways of thinking about this. Firstly, you might have some hard skills that you can use. All organisations, whether they are for-profits, social enterprises or charities, need financial planning and analysis and financial modelling of some sort. On this basis, you could work for any social enterprise that needed help with these tasks.

Second, you could apply your knowledge. There are lots of social enterprises that are concerned with financial inclusion: helping under-served populations access essential financial services such as banking, offering credit or providing payment services.

Others are involved in financial education: teaching people about personal finance and helping them budget, save and invest.

Third, working in finance has presumably helped you develop some important transferable skills. You are probably analytical, with good attention to detail and comfortable handling large datasets.

You will be used to working in teams, and working under pressure with multiple deadlines. Perhaps you have also gained experience dealing with customers, taking on leadership roles, or working in a global context. These are skills that can be applied in many contexts.

Finally, what do you want? You’ve got a lot of options, so take some time to think through what you want, and consider the job role, as well as the kind of organisation.

You might want to think about location, the size of the organisation, how well funded they are, who you will be working with, how committed you are to their purpose, the network you’ll build, the skills you’ll learn…

One other thought: does it have to be a social enterprise? Could it be a charity, a conventional start-up or a specific team in an incumbent bank?

The bottom line

A social enterprise focused on financial inclusion looks like the obvious starting point for exploration.

Check out impact focused accelerators and incubators, read and follow social enterprise organisations and talk to as many people as you can to gather the information you need to make a good decision.