Why Personal Branding Is Crucial for Professionals in Finance and Investment Banking

Being a professional in this industry can sometimes bring an unwarranted negative image. The perception of finance and investment banking professionals often attracts blame for issues such as the financial crash in 2008.

In order to overcome this stigma, professionals in the finance and investment banking industry should look towards increasing their personal brand and changing people’s mind through positivity.

The easiest way to do that is by engaging your audience and helping them understand you personally through the internet, especially social media. For example, instead of taking to Twitter to complain about current U.S affairs, Mary Beth Storjohann, a financial planner, has a unique approach to growing her business. She has developed an impressive library of content and she’s constantly open to new ways of reaching her clients. She currently has a book, a podcast and a blog. Her clients have labeled her their very own “rent-a-CFO”.

In addition to a positive online presence, you must also create a positive image in the real world. At work, the way you interact with clients and colleagues has a lasting effect on your brand. Theresa Hannon, founder of Theresa Hannon Financial Group Ltd. in Wheaton, Illinois sent thanksgiving letters to her clients, starting a Random Acts of Kindness campaign. She tucked $100 bills in letters to 90 clients asking them to perform a random act of kindness. Her campaign spread, conveying a positive message as well as building her brand.

While many of these things may not seem directly correlated with your line of work, a good reputation can be the difference between closing a career-changing deal, gaining new clients, or even securing a promotion.

Develop Trust Among Others

Recent studies have shown that trust is declining across all industries, especially in finance and investment banking. Therefore, it is important for professionals to be proactive and earn trust through the growth of their personal brand.

In order to succeed in an industry that requires personal interaction, you need to be seen as trustworthy. If you promote your brand as authentic, sincere, timely and organized, trust will follow. Additionally, gaining the trust of others will mitigate any potential risks associated with your profession such as effortless cooperation and developing relationships.

Andy Seth, co-founder of LotusGroup Advisors, said that building trust is a formula. He believes in the “Trust Equation” which states that “trust equals credibility plus reliability plus intimacy, divided by self-interest”.

When promoting your brand, be straightforward. Build the perception that you work towards fixing problems that arise and can be trusted to get the job done. If executed effectively, this newfound trust will potentially attract more business. People are more comfortable around those they can trust.

Create New Opportunities

Building your personal brand doesn’t happen overnight, but as you develop, a world of new opportunities can present themselves. In the finance and investment banking industry, these opportunities could include new business deals, mergers and acquisitions and the potential for growth.

Increasing your brand effectively will attract positive attention. If you are perceived as experienced and knowledgeable, the opportunities will come to you. Rather than you pursuing a new deal or promotion, you may be offered instead.

Additionally, increasing your online brand can bring recognition from other key players. Platforms such as Twitter and LinkedIn allow professionals to connect and build relationships. Using your social leverage to link with journalists and media outlets can present the opportunity to reach out and change public understanding of finance and investment banking.

So, if you would like to grow as a professional in the finance and investment banking industry, developing your personal brand is a crucial step in right direction. If you are unsure about how to start the process, begin by hiring a personal brand specialist. With a brand specialist, you can ensure growth and development through various networks as well as improvement on a personal level.

5 THINGS YOU CAN LEARN FROM TALAYA WALLER’S TED TALK ON PERSONAL BRANDING

 

1. Technology has caused a major shift in influence. Today, one employee can have more influence, and also consumer trust than their entire organization.

2. People are tired of being sold. In business marketing, we have moved away from humanizing objects to influencing people with other people who they know, like, and trust. Individuals who want to build an influential personal brand can use the know-like-trust formula.

3. Everyone has a brand, but most people don’t manage it strategically, effectively, or consistently. Individuals who have a well-defined personal brand usually generate increased value for their company, whether they work for themselves or someone else.

4. Your personal brand is the most powerful tool you have to accomplish your goals. A branding strategy is essential to success in fundraising, growing a business, or changing careers.

5. Branding is no longer about companies trying to manage our perception. Today, it’s about people creating and sharing human experiences.

The future of branding is personal.

How to Become an Entrepreneur Within Your Organization

Entrepreneurship is a mindset. An entrepreneur is someone who embraces critical thinking, innovation, and change rather than waiting to adapt to changes as they occur. Entrepreneurs who operate within an organization are looking to add value; they are open to advice from mentors and managers and proactively seek innovative solutions. They take full control of their career paths. Strong business leaders understand that human capital is the most valuable asset they have, even though it often does not show on the balance sheet, and that the best employees are the ones who are proactive, not reactive. These are the people who make the clients and customers happy.    

The entrepreneurial spirit is not inherently at odds with an established organizational structure, but new ideas, by definition, shake up the status quo. Even though organizations across industries are calling for innovative, out of the box thinking from employees, would-be entrepreneurs do face a certain set of risks. How can entrepreneurial-minded employees working from the inside act on their initiative while minimizing risk to themselves and their organizations? 

It is not enough to simply have a good idea; you must also have drive. Without this startup energy, you will not feel sufficiently motivated to venture into the unknown. Curiosity and problem solving skills will get you halfway, but if you do not personally care about the outcome then the risk factor will overshadow the possibilities.   

The next step is establishing what you are willing to invest to take this step and, beyond that, what you can afford to lose if things do not pan out as you hoped. Traditional risk calculations would otherwise nip conceptual exploration in the bud. With an uncertain expected return, investment is less than prudent. But, as they say, “nothing ventured, nothing gained.” You have to readjust your mindset to embrace uncertainty before you even begin. 

The landscape looks very different for external entrepreneurs. While they calculate time and money risks, internal entrepreneurs are wagering their ambition against the social capital already accrued within their organization. The most significant risk criteria to consider is their relationship capital and social standing and these risks must be addressed in much the same way as traditional entrepreneurs manage financial risk and investments. 

Now that you have embraced your entrepreneurial spirit and calculated the risks, you need to look around and figure out who you want by your side. Internal entrepreneurs benefit greatly from employee partnerships and supportive bosses, or at least indulgently passive superiors. Your evolving ideas require emotional, physical, and sometimes political support as well as a potential marketplace for your efforts.  

Once you’ve given yourself the green light and internal network to pursue your passion, it is time to act. Remain flexible and always learn from the outcomes of your actions, readjusting before taking your next step. Learn how to proceed with relatively low-risk steps, using your available network as a support and sounding board. In this way, you can bring energy and continuous improvement to your organization, thereby establishing yourself as an invaluable resource and entrepreneur, all while remaining within the supportive structure of your organization.

How Technology Changed Branding

The word “branding” literally refers to burning insignia, initials, or a logo onto a product. The term has been used for cattle, pottery in ancient times, and now it indicates the indelible mark you personally make on the products and services you are marketing. 

The idea of branding, as it more closely relates to industry, arose in the 1800’s when manufacturers, who had been personally selling goods within their own communities, began shipping products to sell elsewhere. The products had to fend for themselves without the manufacturer there to explain or promote it. 19th century manufacturers developed the ideas of publicity and advertising in their efforts to build name consciousness and product loyalty. 

The concept of self-positioning we now call “personal branding” was introduced in 1937 in a book by Napoleon Hill called Think and Grow Rich and further developed in 1981 by Al Ries and Jack Trout in their book Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind. The idea gained traction and was popularized by Tom Peters. 

In today’s iteration, brands constitute promises that peers, consumers, and potential employers believe; think of your personal brand as reputation capital and marketing as reputation management. In other words, you aren’t selling just goods or services, you are selling you.

What are your unique attributes, your skills, passions, and strengths? What sets you apart from your competitors? Now brand that reputation onto your wares with a highly recognizable logo and consistent style across platforms and mediums.

If you work for a corporation or a nonprofit, your “wares” might consist entirely of your skills, experience, attitude, and reputation. Nevertheless, consistency is key; cultivating a trustworthy product is the only way to grow your brand. A strong brand is a combination of trust, attention, reputation and execution. 

With the age of the internet, branding has reached a new level of relevance and consequence. Managing your reputation is a full-scale operation, spanning the far corners of the virtual world. Despite the fact that social media is technically online, its effects in the real world are both real and far-reaching.

Social media allows you to curate and market an online identity; this isn’t just a tool, it has become an expectation. If you want to secure preference in the mind of the consumer, you must first earn their trust. Your professional reputation is equally built on brand consistency.

Employers are increasingly cognizant of social media as a way to vet applicants before offering the first round of interviews. This may involve everything from scanning the applicant’s Twitter or Facebook feed, finding their personal blog or profile on LinkedIn, or conducting a more extensive background check using search engines and other tools.

Job seekers know that to be a competitor, they must foster a strong online identity, cultivate a following, and provide potential employers with access to their personal brand assets. Such efforts will greatly improve your chances of creating a perception of your qualities and capabilities that will distinguish you from the competition.  
 

Is Professorial Branding for You? Yes, It Is

I asked the personal-branding expert Talaya Waller what she recommends and finds of value for personal (i.e. professional) branding. Here is what she said: "As a newly published researcher, I’ve encouraged my colleagues to make sure they create an account and complete a profile on Google Scholar. You can connect with other researchers and see where your work has been cited. You can network with other scholars as well. In addition, every professor should think about having a professional landing page online outside of their university. They can use their site to publish their unpublished and published work, solicit other thought leaders in their field, and have a method of contact for researchers to ask them about their work."