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Five basic things women need to do if they want to progress in financial services

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Career progression isn't always easy for women in finance.

While there are plenty of success stories of women who made it to the top in financial services, it is the worst-kept secret that the industry is still male-dominated. Female financial services professionals often fall into obvious career traps, so here are some things you must do if you want to progress.

1. Negotiate your salary

It’s imperative that we advocate for ourselves. We have to know our worth ask for it. The consequences go beyond leaving significant money on the table. First, it is often difficult to close the salary gap once you have fallen behind.

Second, we have to be able to ask not only for salary but also for additional opportunities and promotions. Beyond the fact that you’re not advocating for yourself, the lack of negotiating on your behalf may lead to questions about your ability to manage, especially as you move up in your organization.

2. Cultivate a personal board of directors

Your network is one of the most important assets you have. Moreover, financial service can be a bit isolating at times. Develop a strong personal board of advisors – a personal dream team in your corner. A strong personal board of directors should have six types of members – a mentor, a sponsor, a connector, a point expert, a close friend and an executive coach.

3. Develop a strong personal brand

Whether you’re looking for a new career opportunity or simply wanting to raise your game, putting the time into building your personal brand is essential. Get visible and make sure you can tell a compelling story of accomplishments, skills and talents. You want your name to be top of mind when opportunities are being discussed.

4. Beware of filler projects

Often we are asked to take on projects that don’t have a direct tie to business priorities or provide visibility, but can take up a lot of time. Try to avoid these “off-balance-sheet” projects because they will take your time away from working on what’s really important for both the organization and for yourself.

5. Visualize and plan the day

In financial services, your days can get hectic really fast. Identify the three must-dos for work, home and self. It has to go beyond a list – actually schedule in when you are going to tackle which task to avoid a list of unchecked items. What gets scheduled gets done, so block off time for the most important things, including exercise and family time, and schedule time for things such as responding to emails, calls and meetings later in the day to preserve quality blocks of time earlier in the day when you have more energy.

For women in finance, following these five steps can help you get a leg up on the competition and continue to progress in your career, regardless of which area of financial services you work in.

Lisa Skeete Tatum is the founder and CEO of Landit, a digital career-coaching platform for women, and formerly a general partner focused on healthcare technology investments at Cardinal Partners, a $350m venture capital firm.

Photo credit: Portra/GettyImages

 

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