The Cayman Islands financial services industry offers many great career opportunities for Caymanians. The industry currently employs around 4,000 Caymanians. But in a country where financial services makes up more than half of the country’s GDP, and half of all government revenues, we can encourage even greater participation within the sector by increasing exposure to the many types of services and career opportunities in the sector.
While legal and accounting services have often received prominent public exposure they do not represent the majority of career positions for Caymanians. As a result of this perception, many Caymanians might view the industry as ‘out of their reach’ primarily because they believe that you have to be a qualified attorney or accountant to participate in the sector.
In fact there are many other fulfilling and extremely well paid positions within the Cayman Islands financial services industry including; marketing professionals, HR managers and administrators, IT experts in a variety of areas ranging from programming to security, finance, corporate and fund administration and several dozen senior administrative and operational positions.
Different paths to upward mobility
If you are seeking to improve your upward mobility or simply to enter the financial services industry in Cayman, there are several educational/training paths, which can be summarised as follows:
University education – Getting a bachelors degree in business, law, finance, marketing, human resources, or IT provides a strong foundation for a career in financial services. But a degree in any subject area can also provide a good foundation for the industry provided that you carry out other training specific to the sector (see below).
Professional qualifications – Professional designations such as becoming an attorney, certified accountant, STEP, ICSA, CFA and the Chartered Institute of Bankers are among the most popular professional paths to a career in the industry. The attorney and lawyer designation prepares you for just about any sub-sector within the industry. The STEP and ICSA designations prepare you for a career in the trust and corporate services sector, the CFA designation can be especially helpful in accounting or the funds sector (but can be applied more widely as well), and of course the Chartered Institute of Bankers designation is the gold standard if you wish to pursue a serious career in banking.
Other industry training – This is the area that often gets missed. Even if one has a bachelor’s degree they still need to understand the industry in which they are seeking upward mobility. Becoming an attorney teaches very little about how to advise on incorporating a captive insurance vehicle or learning about how hedge funds operate (something you would certainly need to know for example, if you wished to serve as a director of hedge funds). Therefore even the most qualified professionals have to undergo various forms of orientation and introductory training as well as on the job training when they arrive in Cayman (particularly if they have not been working within offshore financial services before). Similarly there are cases of many Caymanians who have been working within the industry in a certain area but who may be able to pursue a career in another area of service if they better understood the workings of that sub-sector.
The good news is that there are many firms that offer scholarships for university degrees and they will also sponsor staff to pursue formal professional designations or ongoing industry training.
Feeling stuck in a rut?
If you are someone that has been working within the financial services industry for a while or new to the industry and you are not a qualified accountant or attorney and don’t have a university degree, all is not lost. In addition to participating in courses on the industry you can also begin the process of pursuing formal qualifications on a part time basis. Speak to your boss or HR Manager and you will likely get a positive reception.
Attending courses that introduce you to the possibilities is one of the best first steps to deciding what you really want to do. You may have been working as a corporate administrator for the past 7 years, only to discover that in fact you really like the investment funds world and would be keen to take up a position in that area instead. And of course doing what you love is a pre-requisite to become more successful.
Take action today. Ask your boss to support your participation in an industry course, university degree, or professional designation that prepares you for a better future in the Cayman Islands financial services industry.
Find out on more about this week’s upcoming financial services training seminar by FTS here.