100% It was the best decision I made and I wouldn't change a thing. My work placement was a year long - spending four months at Deloitte as a Tax analyst intern and eight months at Handelsbanken as an AMS split between two branches in central Birmingham. I got to experience work in two global companies in finance, both specialising in different aspects of finance one tax and consulting and the other banking and financial products.
As Handelsbanken was a much smaller team, I got to know my colleagues on a personal level and get along great with all of them. The environment was super supportive and I felt included and part of a team. My thoughts were always considered and my colleagues always included me in any activities that they thought i might be interested in. They were also reassuring in term of my progress and giving compliments to standard of my work.
My colleagues at Handelsbanken were very supportive and let me know they were always on hand for any queries. I could ask them questions when they were nearby or alternatively email and skype them when I wanted to. They let me understand no question I asked was a stupid question and they were more than happy to repeat themselves if need be. I was able to shadow them and they suggested materials that could help me.
In my first month - the focus was more so on training and allowing me to understand the workflow of tasks and my duties. Due to the pandemic, some of the tasks I would have done ordinarily pre-covid was somewhat reduced but not so much to keep me busy. My main responsibilities was reviewing financial reports, checking discrepancies in customer accounts, taking calls and proving admin assistance and assisting my colleagues with prioritising daily tasks.
My responsibilities always changed as it was dependant on meeting the needs of customers during covid-19. I was given responsibility in performing aml checks on customer accounts, checking details are up to date per banks standard which involved using banks in-house system which I had to learn and manage without making any mistakes i.e. delete record by accident. This allowed me to feel responsible for my work and own up as an account support manager.
I discovered what skills and qualities professionals in finance use and develop over time to provide valuable service and how I can do the same. I learnt about the importance of riskmanagement, applying customer due dilligence during and after the customer onboarding process and maintaining vigilant monitoring of customer accounts and the importance of following set of rules and procedures that comply with UK financial regulations and understanding the risks involved if you don't meet them
The office environment was corporate and professional. Socially it was very warm and supportive - my colleagues being by my side whenever I needed any support with understanding a concept or customer account, the inhouse system and further training. The atmosphere was always warm and lively, and I always found my team mates funny and easy to talk, having a good chat and enjoying a joke amongst ourselves. This extended to customers relations as well.
It was very well set up- I enjoyed the placement and wouldn't change it overall. In my first placement, I was linked up with a mentor where I had one to one and could check my progress with as well as monthly catch up with senior staff at my department. This allowed me to check what areas I could improve upon My second placement also similar and I had an induction for both where I met new colleagues
In both companies I went through training modules - compliance and other courses to improve upon my existing knowledge and skills. I felt that Handelsbanken training was more interactive as it allowed me to learn at my own pace by myself and with others. The resources were easy to navigate, there were always new courses available and which I could get on relating to what I was doing and interactive workshops where I can be part of group discussion.
Above 25 days holiday
Working from home
During my team I had a chance yo speak with various department including HR and regional to find out more about other roles within the organisation. Staff explained the progression routes available and how the account manager support role is usually a start bridge to roles within the bank as corporate and individual banking managers. As well as that there other roes within compliance, credit, HR, business support and wealth management. Opportunities are available in UK and abroad.
N/a - covid-19
There were opportunities to get involved in activitues outside of work pre-covid. My colleagues had a schedule of meeting up for lunch at local pub on Wednesdays and Friday but that wasn't possible after the lockdown measures were put in place. Handelnsbanken is an oranisation that does encourage outside activities especially social activities for colleagues and a usual one would be meeting up for dinner - restaurant, pub, there are also other functions staff can attend.
Placement (5-9 Months)