We caught up with Bright Network member and Exeter graduate Tom Jones to find out about his role in the Investment Supervision and Policy Division at the Guernsey Financial Services Commission (GFSC) and what it takes to successfully apply to this prestigious firm.
Why did you apply for a graduate role with the GFSC?
I visited Guernsey for a week when I was a teenager and fell in love with the island – it’s a stunning place with beautiful beaches, great food and the people are lovely. It was a place that I always wanted to go back to and could see myself living in.
While browsing the Bright Network website, I came across the GFSC and the location immediately stood out to me. After doing a bit of research, I discovered that the GFSC was very well respected globally – it’s renowned for embracing innovation and works to an exceptionally high standard. Although Guernsey is a small place, the reach of the GFSC is surprisingly global and it takes on the really important role of regulating all sectors of the island’s finance industry.
I applied for a position on the Graduate Development Programme and ultimately got a Graduate Analyst position in the GFSC’s Financial Crime Supervision and Policy Division, which is focused on anti-money laundering and combatting the financing of terrorism within Guernsey’s finance industry. With my academic background in History and Politics, this area of the regulation really appealed to me.
What was the toughest part of the application process? And your favourite part?
The hardest part of the interview process was being able to contain my enthusiasm for the opportunity to work for the GFSC and moving to Guernsey. It was a role that was unique and would offer unparalleled exposure to the finance industry in a centre of financial excellence. Therefore, I put a lot of pressure on myself to secure the position - which fortunately I was able to do.
My favourite part of the application process was the face-to-face interview in Guernsey. I was flown over for the occasion and had a brilliant discussion with the some of the GFSC’s directors, one of which is now my boss. As it was a lovely sunny day, I also walked around the island’s capital, St Peter Port, and got a real sense for what it would be like to live and work in Guernsey.
What do you know now you that you wish you'd known when applying?
How much responsibility you are given from day one. On a daily basis, I get to work with the Board of Directors of large global companies, who have multi-billion pounds worth of assets under management. The interaction that the GFSC and I have with these companies influences and impacts the way that they make business decisions and how they interact with clients - it truly is an unrivalled level of responsibility for such an early part of my career and I thoroughly enjoy it.
As a Graduate Analyst on the Graduate Development Programme, you are encouraged to push yourself and it’s definitely a steep, but rewarding, learning curve. Staying on top of the workload can be challenging but you quickly develop crucial skills such as time management, strong analytical skills and being able to communicate your ideas in a concise manner.
Furthermore, the GFSC offers plenty of training opportunities and support to help you find your feet. There are also great opportunities for progression at the GFSC - I joined the GFSC in September 2015 and I have now been promoted to Analyst in the Investment Supervision and Policy Division, where I have taken on even further roles and responsibilities. In fact, some of my colleagues who joined the Graduate Development Programme at the same time as me have now progressed to Senior Analyst and are even in charge of their own team!
What do you enjoy most about your role?
I actually really enjoy the challenging moments when things aren’t quite going to plan with the firms that we regulate. Not because of the problem itself, but because it’s an opportunity to explore and learn about the inner workings of a firm or fund. Furthermore, I really enjoy the variety of issues I come up against on a daily basis. One day, I’ll be dealing with a complex accountancy problems, and the next, I’ll have to manage the risks associated with a breakdown in communication between a firm’s board members.
Although there are some parts of the role that require you to be financially and numerically literate, I get to use the skills that I developed during my History and Politics degree (i.e. data analysis, presenting complicated information in a digestible format and communicating with impact) on a daily basis.
I have to mention the perks of living on an island too. In the summer, I’m only five minutes away from the British Isle’s best beaches, there are plenty of opportunities to take up outdoor pursuits and sports, and my commute to work is only 10 minutes!
What top tips would you give fellow Bright Network members looking to successfully apply to GFSC?
Firstly, find out as much as you can about Guernsey and if you able to, visit the island and get an idea of what life is like here. It’s good to mention your interest in the location on your initial application and it’ll give you lots to talk about during the more formal part of your interview.
Secondly, do some in-depth research on the GFSC and think about which part of the Commission your interests and strengths would best suit – the GFSC has plenty of opportunities to work in the banking and insurance, investment, fiduciary and enforcement divisions. You’ll impress your assessor if you already have a good idea of what you want to do at GFSC and how you’ll contribute to the success of the Commission.
Thirdly, think about the professional qualifications and training you want to take – for example I am in the final stages of completing my Level 4 Investment Management Certificate. Also, having a mid-term career plan will demonstrate your commitment to the industry.
And finally, the GFSC wants to meet driven, knowledgeable and friendly people. If you’ve made it to interview and you tick all these boxes, I am sure you will easily fit into the culture of the Commission.