Wondering how hard it'll be to get back in (asset management) if I take a career break to have kids?

(5 Posts)
spinachandchickpea Thu 22-Aug-13 20:44:53

Hi all

I've 5 years experience in asset management as an analyst, all at the one company. Early this year I was unfairly dismissed. Trumped up charges about performance - my appraisals were good - they didn't even follow the correct procedure - I got what my lawyer called a good result in a compromise agreement (money and reference). The place has an appalling record of getting rid of women of my age, with the result that it's all junior women and senior men, so I should have seen it coming, but I thought that my good appraisals were enough. It was all horrible, but I've picked myself up and have been getting through to the last round of interviews so I'm hopeful that I will be able to sort out a new role. Recruiters tell me my CV is very good (they don't seem too bothered that I've left - firms have been making redundancies).

The issue is that I'm ready to have kids. DH is too, we'd like a couple if possible. I'm approaching my mid-30s. We were due to start trying when I was dismissed. I have 2 professional exams to take which will involve at least 6 months of evening and weekend work for each exam on top of a full-time job. The exams have to be taken consecutively so it'd be one next June, then another the following June. I'm now thinking that it might be foolish to be in a full-time job, sit the exam in June (which I'll have to if I'm employed), while hopefully being pregnant. When you're doing these exams when you're working full-time you're basically working 16 hours a day, six and a half days a week, for 6 months for each exam. I'm not sure I can do that when pregnant.

So I've been thinking about whether to take a career break to have kids. (I'm lucky; DH earns well so I think we can do it - he's ok with this plan.) Ideally I'd pass my exams while having a couple of kids, then go back to work and have a full-time nanny. I'm pretty sure that the macho culture of finance would mean I'd have to go back 5 days a week. Obviously there are loads of issues with this plan, including: I don't know if/when I might get pregnant; I don't know I'll be able to pass the exams - though I'd be giving myself a good shot by having more time than others; I'm not sure that I will be able to get back in after (hopefully just) a few years. Passing the exams would show commitment, but it might not be enough to get interviews. On my side is that finance doesn't move quickly so I don't think my skills would date. The alternative to a career break is trying to get a job now, then trying to get pregnant, and doing the exams, all at once.

Anyone got a view on how hard it might be for me to get back in if I take a break for kids? Maybe HR MNs could help?

FantasticMax Fri 23-Aug-13 20:28:57

I work in a similar field to you. Do you mean that you would sit the exams while being a SAHM? My experience of the exams is that studying (are you doing the CFA?) is pretty tough going and you may need to go on a course with a provider like BPP to get the best chance of passing. When I did my exams we had 3 three-day courses spread over three months - would you be able to get childcare for such occasions? Also, surely even with being a SAHM you will still only get to study in the evenings, much like you would if you were working, so I'm not sure this is a real advantage.

My other concern is the time taken out of work and whether your qualifications would still be valid without accompanying CPD to keep your skills up to date. I'm not an analyst, so I'm not sure how that works for you (I'm client facing and this is a must).

I think your previous company sound really shoddy but I do believe that there are more family friendly organisations out there so it might well be worth trying to get another job and then having your maternity leave and trying to come back part-time.

The reason I say this is that I don't know how hard it would be to get your foot back in the door after having a break, but I can say that our graduate trainees are getting hungrier and more determined to impress (makes me glad I'm not competing with them!) and this was one of the factors that made me reluctant to take a career break myself.

I'm sorry if I sound too negative, I wish you luck and hope it all goes well.

spinachandchickpea Mon 26-Aug-13 19:14:55

FantasticMax, many thanks for posting your response. Yes, it's the CFA. I got level 1 when I was working so I've 2 more levels to go. I'm not pregnant (yet, but here's hoping); I'm out of work, so as well as networking and applying directly in the hope of getting a role, I'm about to sign up for level 2 and get on with study for that. I found it really heavy when working full time to study for level 1 - full time work + CFA study equalled about 15 hours' work a day plus 8 hours one day at the weekend, for about 5 months solid. I can imagine it'd have been easier for me when I was 23 than now I'm 33 and DH expects me to spend time with him (and I want to too).

Am I a wimp? It sounds like you've done the CFA while working; did you have kids / were you pregnant/ married at the same time? I'm worried I won't be able to hold it all together and that with work, pregnancy and CFA something has to give for a bit, and I can't afford it to be having family. How did you manage it?

idontgivearatsass Tue 27-Aug-13 21:48:43

I have sent you a private message.

BranchingOut Sun 01-Sep-13 08:43:41

It sounds to me as if you should get your exams out of the way ASAP before having children.

Small babies are not friends to study and definitely don't always go to bed obediently at 7pm. Or, if they do, you then need to get done all the household jobs that you have not been able to do during the day!

I began a pt MA when my son was 2+ alongside working 0.6 and that has been hard enough - I have only really been able to study when I have had daytime childcare, as I am just too tired to do much in the evenings.

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