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Look before leaping into the wrong job

A high-profile case, which has embroiled ANZ in controversy, illustrates the danger of being misled about career prospects.

Former head of institutional banking Steve Targett is seeking AU$2.1m in damages, after claiming the Aussie bank left him with the wrong impression about its financial health and his future prospects when he signed on in 2004.

Targett is claiming that he left his AU$2.5m a year job with Lloyds TSB after being assured that ANZ’s institutional operations were strong, when they were in fact under-funded and in poor shape.

One city-based headhunter says the Targett story is a cautionary tale for star bankers considering a career shift.

Mary Grant, principal consultant at Hudson’s Banking & Finance Recruitment, says employers often present leading candidates with a rosy picture. “It is very common when [bankers] get to the senior end. The clients will tell them what they want to hear.”

To avoid a career blowout, Grant advises quality candidates to be upfront with employers about job prospects. “We try to encourage candidates to interview the employer as well. It’s not a one-way street. You’ve got to get your point of view about progression and expectations across.”

Anthony Ayers, principal consultant at Chandler Heath Executive Recruitment, says candidates should exercise care, and that in his experience it is rare for them to be blindsided on career prospects.

“In investment banking you almost always know what you’re going to get. It was a rare case with ANZ. You know you’re going to work long hours, you know the work is going to be complex and intriguing and you know if you can handle it.”

And if you’re still concerned? Ayers says completing a critical analysis of a company and speaking with existing employees can help avoid a leap into the unknown.

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