Business Etiquette - Six things every corporate climber should know
I have been in the Finance business for more years than I will ever admit. OK, let’s just say over twenty years and leave it at that. I went from working as a receptionist to the current managerial position I hold. I am the Manager for the “KYC - Quality Control” team for one of the top investment firms in New York City. We review and investigate the onboarding information of potential new clients to the firm. In other words, we’re that annoying group that pesters the sales teams for more intrusive information on their clients.
Unfortunately, many young people have never been taught the basics of business etiquette. In my years of experience I have learned many lessons that helped me navigate my way through the corporate world. I want to share a few lessons I learned along the way in the hopes it will help you along your career path.
But before I begin, I want to tell you a little more about my professional background. I started in the Finance business as a receptionist for an investment firm in the suburbs of Westchester County. As an English Lit major I knew little about the world of Finance. And as a young divorced mother, of two toddlers, I was just looking for a job. Once there, I became fascinated as I observed the hustle and bustle of the stock market. “Sell high…buy low!” Growing increasingly interested, I took the time to learn as much as I could from the Financial Advisors, Client Associates and Managers that I saw everyday. And in only two short months, I was promoted to a Client Associate (or a CA as they’re now called). I worked for several Financial Advisors, in addition to being an assistant to the Compliance Officer.
As time went on, I found myself more and more interested in the compliance side of the business. I began to volunteer for special projects. I helped the Compliance Officer with paperwork for upcoming audits; and combed through various reports. Together we basically did all we could to keep the sales force from losing their licenses, their jobs and in some cases from going to jail (but that’s another story). As I continued to volunteer for special projects, I was given additional responsibilities. The Compliance Officer recommended me to get my first of three Securities Licenses I would have one day. I quickly became proficient in various Compliance matters & became the point person for our office. I know it sounds crazy but I ended up falling in love with all things compliance (please, don’t judge me).
Then some time later, I took what I learned and was able to get a position in the Compliance Department of another firm. Again, I volunteered for special projects and ended up getting promoted as an Assistant Compliance Officer where I was able to conduct audits throughout the tri-state area.
Eventually, I grew tired of the traveling and took a position that kept me closer to home. I continued to soak in as much information as I could. And again, I volunteered for additional work. I received a promotion within my first year.
Sometime later I received a phone call from someone I knew at my current firm. He told me about an open position that I later got and I was eventually given my own team to run.
I learned several lessons along the way that helped me go beyond my position as a receptionist to my current managerial position. I believe these lessons may be able to help you as well:
1. Volunteer to do more than what your current job description entails: Let your Manager know that you are willing and able to go the extra mile. That you are a team player. Are there any special projects in the pipeline? Is there an item you can take off your Manager’s plate? Is there something you can do that would be an asset to your team? Doing work that is outside your day-to-day can help you learn about other avenues of the business. In addition, it can help get your name in front of people whose path you may not have crosse