BLOG: "Challenge yourself and explore the financial world"
"While I’ve never had a career master plan, my driver has always been to improve the skills I have and to test my limits," writes Tuğçe Işlak, a group financial controller at Aegon’s corporate headquarters. "Aegon’s Financial Development Program (FDP) is an ideal vessel for this intriguing journey."
I obtained Master's degrees in Financial Law and Financial Economics at Erasmus University in my home town, the Dutch port city of Rotterdam.
During my study I came into contact with Aegon, a financial services business, for an internship in 2014. I saw quickly that there were a lot of opportunities to grow and the environment at Aegon was pleasant. I took the decision to stay and take a full-time position, beginning in the Financial Reporting & Accounting team at Aegon Asset Management. My core responsibilities included shared responsibility for accounting, financial and regulatory reporting, as well as taking a leading role in the annual fund reporting process and accounting process.
Three years in and while I was happy with my position though open to change when a member of the HR team told me in a one-on-one discussion about a pilot for the Financial Development Program, a new initiative within Aegon for people with a financial background. The opportunity intrigued me, partly as I was familiar with the existing Technical Development Program, which is geared towards high-potential individuals with a quantitative background.
Tuğçe Işlak, a group financial controller at Aegon's corporate headquarters
What is the FDP?
The FDP is a program in which you switch to 3 different jobs every 2 years in Aegon's global bank, insurance, pension and asset management businesses.
Aegon is an insurer-pension provider which can trace its roots back almost 200 years and could be mistaken for a moribund monolith, but looks can be deceiving. Complicated business cases, challenges and insights help shape you as financial professional. You are given the opportunity to work on international assignments, too. It has felt good to gain more experience, and make an impact on various roles within Aegon.
Eventually, I switched to Corporate Centre's Solvency II Analysis team for a new assignment. This was a good decision because it is within an international environment and my efforts are appreciated. There is enough freedom to work independently.
While this sort of work experience is invaluable, the FDP is more in-depth. It develops your soft skills through structured sessions devised by an external consultancy firm and through mentoring with more senior colleagues. I enjoy the challenge of getting out of my comfort zone and being continually compelled to answer questions like: Who am I? Where do I want to go? What are my ambitions?
Sometimes people wonder how I could commit to a six-year program, but my four years at Aegon have sped by. As long as you benefit from new experiences and grow professionally, six years is nothing.
Initially, the focus is on understanding the business and becoming part of the team. Later you start to feel you are really adding value. The opportunity to build and expand a network of contacts beyond immediate colleagues is in itself invaluable. Then you conclude that assignment and bring your experience, knowledge and enthusiasm to the next challenge.
Another question I get asked is whether I would recommend the FDP. Aegon invests in people to create leaders for the future. Leadership development is personal development and the FDP is an opportunity to strengthen your self-awareness and professional skills to become an excellent financial professional. I enjoy the personal development offered within Aegon. Ultimately, you create your own opportunities and Aegon provides the right environment to do that.
Looking for a challenge? Weighing your options about a career in finance? Check out the FDP!