No wonder you are getting frustrated if you are not moving forward after three years in a junior position! You give just one possible reason. But before you blame your lack of education, it's time for some honest self-examination.
In our experience banks don't generally fail to promote juniors just because they don't have a degree. It may be harder to get into certain positions in the first place without one, but once there, especially in a field like trading, it's performance that counts. And after three years, you have had a pretty fair crack at the whip.
How do you think you have you performed during this time and what kind of conversations have you had in your annual reviews? Do you think you are fast track material and that you are being artificially held back by the lack of a degree? Or could it be that you are not cut out for the fast-paced and ruthless world of trading? Where else might your talents lie?
If your lack of progression is really down to the fact that you don't have a degree - then that's easy. Get one! There are plenty of part-time degrees you can do while still working. You might even be eligible to do a Masters in a relevant subject or an MBA, bypassing a first degree altogether. Many universities will consider exceptional candidates without degrees who have good work experience. The key word here is exceptional.
You also say that your graduate peers get more support than you. Have you asked your manager for more support or extra training? Have you asked what you would need to do to get promoted beyond a junior role? What was the answer? It is possible that inertia or bad management is stopping your progression, in which case you may need to leave. It may also be that you are not good enough, or not yet good enough to move on.
It's easy to blame external causes for our lack of progression and to get hung up on the wonderful opportunities that other people are given. But that doesn't get us forward in life.
We can't tell you why you aren't being promoted, but we can tell you that these are the questions you need to be asking. Talk openly to your managers and anyone else you respect in your organisation and take a long hard look at yourself. Then decide what to do next. We'd be interested to here what decision you reach.
A Reader Advises
I am a on a grad scheme right now and some of the people on it are older than me or have come into it after working in the bank for a few months. Why don't you ask your line manager if you can do a rotation to see other areas of the bank to broaden your horizons. That way you could piggy back on the grad scheme.
Another thing you could do is ask your line manager to support you doing a professional qualification - this would almost certainly put you on a faster track to more important roles, mainly because it will raise your profile and your boss will want to get some value out of the money they'll spend putting you through the courses/exams. If you don't ask - you don't get, and the boss always likes you to show some ambition and initiative. Good luck!
Next week's question: Which do you consider better, having an MSc or work experience? I have a place to do an MSc but have also been offered a job in the operations department of a leading Investment Bank?
What would you advise? Send your answer to: email@example.com.
Look out for the Experts' answer to this dilemma and readers' comments on Ask the Expert next week!
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