APRA aims to ensure stability in the financial sector by identifying and addressing idiosyncratic and industry-wide risks. In supervising banks, insurers and superannuation entities we provide confidence to the depositors, policyholders and members as to their chosen organisation’s solvency.
My role is in frontline where I am responsible for supervising a major bank's wealth management arm. As a team we engage in consultation with the organisation by conducting targeted reviews of key risk areas, analyse quarterly data and annual financial documents, and respond to ad hoc issues. Our division is the first point of contact for industry and we develop good working relationships with our entities towards achieving the best outcome for both business and the customer.
APRA is not always in the spotlight given the highly sensitive nature of our work, but plays a critical role in the health of the financial system.
Moving around frequently as a kid my family eventually settled in the north-west of Sydney. After leaving school I tried my hand at a few different degrees before taking a leave of absence from the academic world to work in hospitality and refine my espresso making capabilities. When I moved to London and was notified I would collect seven quid an hour in a very well respected café, I realised it was probably time I return to study. I received notification I was accepted for a Bachelor of Commerce at the University of Wollongong in a hostel in Istanbul.
Moving to Wollongong proved to be one of the best decisions I’ve made. A world away from the crowds of Sydney, I was able to eliminate the distractions that had held me back in the past and pick up a few new hobbies living in an area that is spoiled for outdoor activities. I made lifetime friends and graduated three and half years later with a Bachelor of Economics and Finance.
I applied almost exclusively to graduate roles at government organisations because I felt they were more aligned with my interests and scope for the “bigger picture” of the Australian landscape. APRA drew my attention as it was probably the first to open up its applications and thus received my most enthusiastic (and probably most unrefined) submission. Upon meeting staff during my interviews and assessment centre, I was drawn to the purported culture of the organisation, alongside the remarkable tenure of those interviewing me.
Although it meant moving back to the big smoke, when I received an offer from APRA it was an easy decision to make.
Absolutely. The nature of the work encourages people with different perspectives and strengths to collaborate and draw conclusions from sometimes highly complex issues. Of course an interest in finance, or the role finance plays in the broader Australian environment, would serve to bolster the satisfaction an individual would gain from working at APRA.
Since I began in February 2016 APRA has made a number of progressive decisions towards achieving inclusion and diversity within the organisation. It’s exciting to be at the start of a shifting culture as we seek to further embrace people from different backgrounds, and I’ve taken on a number of opportunities for involvement in these initiatives.
Flexibility is desirable when starting out at APRA, because as a graduate you may be assigned to an industry or entity which you have no familiarity with. If you are someone who embraces challenges and are comfortable with the unknown, you will find the work stimulating and satisfying as you consistently broaden your knowledge base.
I’d say there are three things that top this list:
As a graduate at APRA you are given exposure to aspects of the financial sector that no other organisation can offer. I’ve been in meetings with Managing Directors, Chief Risk Officers, Appointed Actuaries, Chief Financial Officers, to name a few.
The level of responsibility I was given since the day I sat down at my desk was flattering, if not initially terrifying.
My colleagues value my contribution, and as someone who is just starting their career, this aspect is incredibly rewarding.
There is a steep learning curve at APRA. I had to develop a higher level of patience with my knowledge base as I had come straight out of university where I could simply learn and regurgitate answers in an exam setting. Initially, I found this unsettling, and even a year in there is always scope for continual learning and development. At the risk of turning this limitation into a positive, I found this process highlighted aspects of my personality and work ethic that I was previously unaware of, and now reflects some of the qualities that I consider strengths. It’s not for everyone though, and you have to really enjoy learning at a slower pace than the 13 week semester to be satisfied with the quality of work you produce.
There’s not much I would change in terms of the way I went about things, but if I were to go against my parent’s advice an attempt to place a wise head on young shoulders, it would be the following: