Ask the Expert: After 35 Years in Finance, How do I Transition to Something New?

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We get your career questions answered by the experts. Today’s question is on changing industries after 35 year working in the finance sector.


Our Expert: Lucy Standing, Co-Founder of Brave Starts, our personal careers charity partner. Lucy is a psychologist and Vice Chair of the Association for Business Psychology. She was previously Global Head of Recruitment in the Investment Bank and Strategy Consulting sectors across JP Morgan and LEK consulting. Brave Starts is a result of people passionately working together to try and help companies support their employees to work and age better.

55/Redefined Member Question:

“I’ve been in finance for 35 years but have fallen out of love with it. I want to continue to work for at least another 10 years but have no idea what I want to do instead…”

Lucy’s Answer:

Welcome to the club! You’re in the same boat as most: 74.4% of people over 50 looking to make a change have no idea of what they want to do next. The reason it is hard is because there are roughly 34,000 different types of job out there and you won’t know most of them. Even if you did, this range of choice is paralysing. The truth is, making any change is a long process. If you’re already in a job, then our starting point would be to ask if there are options within the organisation to make a shift internally? The social capital you’ve built up will give you the best chance of getting constructive support with making a change. If there are really no options internally then when we work with people, we go through the following steps:

1. Getting your head into the right space. The ‘self-help’ and career advice market is littered with well-intentioned but ultimately misleading advice which we often find stops people from exploring/taking the steps they need to take. The best foundation is one where you have an open mind and are prepared to make some sacrifices – usually financially (but not always).

2. Explore your past for clues. Whilst you are looking for what to do next, you have a huge amount of insight already about what you value, what work contexts you enjoy and what working patterns support your needs.

3. Use others to help you generate ideas for jobs or areas for you to explore.

4. Talk to people doing those jobs and if need be, offer to pay them for their time.

5. Shadow the work if you can. We have organised shadowing opportunities for people (on a case by case basis) and this more than anything gives people critical insight. You can shadow a job for a day and have that be enough to make a decision (don’t believe me – think back to dates you’ve been on which you considered a disaster. You didn’t need a whole day to figure it out!)

6. Allow the time you spend exploring/shadowing people and information gathering to take around three to four months. This phase will however make things clearer and you’ll start narrowing down the options usually to one or two areas.

7. Orientate your CV/brand towards the areas you want to focus on.

8. Understand your own assets (including your age) and how to position this positively.

9. Take steps to build your network and make proactive and personal approaches to organisations and seek out any opportunities (voluntary ones are a great start) to get involved.

10. Maintain your resilience and focus. Rejection is normal and to be expected and come back and share with our community when it happens. We’re pretty good at putting things in perspective.

Do all of the above, allow yourself the time, be proactive and you will get there. Furthermore, we promise you’ll enjoy things along the way.

If you have a question related to your career that you'd like Lucy to answer, please email