I have held back from writing about this recent development in my professional life because it's quite personal and I wasn't sure how useful it would be on this blog. But I figured a change in jobs is a significant event because it can have an immediate and long-term impact on your salary income. Which makes this a personal finance topic.
Newsflash: I will be resigning from my current position in an accounting firm and taking up a new position in a bank. This means I'm finally joining my wife in the banking industry, which is something I never imagined doing.
I have always believed in employment risk diversification to reduce the possibility of both my wife and I being retrenched at the same time. Working in different fields and industries is a good way to achieve that. Protecting at least one source of salary income is a high priority for us to be able to navigate an economic downturn and recession.
So why have I gone against my risk diversification philosophy? I have considered all these factors that led to my decision and figured it would be a good reference point to check back on after working in my new job. Just to see how they played out.
I always knew salary incomes in the accounting industry are lower than those in the banking industry. And I could justify that by convincing myself that my technical skills and knowledge will increase at a faster pace. At some point in time, I will be able to catch up on the gap in the salary income and make up for it. Besides, I figured there was more room and scope for professional development in an accounting firm.
I have come to realise that this is not entirely true. I can say this because my wife and I entered into the banking and accounting industries respectively with similar academic qualifications, achieved the same professional qualifications and our career paths have diverted.
It's true that I picked up compliance and advisory technical skills and knowledge in an accounting firm. But my wife has also picked up specialist skills and knowledge in a bank. Neither is less valuable than the other. However, a lower starting salary and slower increase in salary due to a fixed promotion ladder has resulted in an ever increasing gap with my wife's salary.
I'm happy to have a wife that out earns me and I don't understand why society views it as an issue to be discussed. I could go on and on about the benefits of a higher earning wife but that's not the point of this post. What's important is that I start pulling my weight to address this salary gap. Not just for my wife but for myself as well.
I agree that money should not be the most important factor in a job. But it is one of the main employee motivation factors for me. The fact that I can be paid 15% more by making a lateral move from an accounting firm to a bank makes me wonder how much my lost earnings are from not having done so earlier.
2. What about the current job crisis in the banking industry?
This is a good question posed by my colleagues. Why move to the banking industry that is currently going through a job crisis with increasing retrenchment statistics? The problem for me is revenues are already declining in my current team and will eventually cause a restructure. I might as well deal with that problem now and move to an external role with demand for my skills and knowledge.
This actually answers the question above. It depends on which area of the bank I am moving to. If that division is in decline, I am going to run into the same issues eventually. However, if it's in a growing area such as regulatory compliance, there's potential for longer-term application of my expertise.
3. Would my professional development plateau?
I will admit that my professional development might stagnate. But it's very much up to me to decide whether that happens. The work environment in an accounting firm pushes you to learn but you have to push yourself to learn in a bank. It's easy to keep doing what you are doing and not pick up new skills and knowledge.
In short, there will be a greater learning inertia at a bank but I have to be active in overcoming it. Besides, failing to do will probably result in retrenchment so I might as well give it my all.
4. How does this fit into my personal finance goals?
One of my biggest weaknesses personally and professionally is that I get bored with what I'm doing quickly. This translates into me starting something and never finishing it properly. As you can imagine, doing that in your career can have disastrous consequences.
I have done my best to alleviate this by working in different aspects of the same field to keep myself interested in the job. But all these moving and jumping around in my job history will cost me in the long run for my career. Something my colleagues have made sure to point out to me.
This is what I have to say. Screw it. I only have one life and I'm going to learn as much as I can about as many things as I can until I find something that really fires me up. Actually, I might already have.
As a couple, our ability to generate salary income has contributed greatly to the growth in our asset portfolio. However, lifestyle inflation has eaten into our net worth by resulting in a large amount of liabilities.
The more I manage our personal finances on the assets, liabilities, income and expenses, the more I realise there's so much that I don't know. This is the case even when I am interested in learning about it. I can only imagine how much steeper the curve is for people who are not interested but still want to improve their personal finances.
I have to believe that what I learn and earn from my jobs will eventually result in me being able to contribute to improving the general personal finance management and education level of people in one form or another. This might result in me not having a traditional career path but I reckon it's something worth striving for.