As with many fields, the critical factor in the financial market is flexibility. If you make Aliyah with a background in banking or finance, it is unlikely that you will find a job in Israel identical to that which you had in the U.S. or Canada. The market is significantly different in Israel, and you will probably have to switch gears and apply your background and skills to the different types of opportunities that are locally available.

If you are making Aliyah with extensive professional experience, and are looking for a senior position, figuring out where you fit into the local job market may require both creativity and openness. It is best not to approach the job market seeking to find a position like you held in the U.S. Instead, try to identify what knowledge you bring to the table, which a native Israeli does not have. Keep in mind the following golden rule: “What does Israel need that I can offer?” This differs significantly from the traditional job seeker’s question: “How can I find a job, doing what I like to do best?”

If you are looking for an entry level position, you might want to consider looking for a position in a large accounting firm such as Ernst & Young, Price Waterhouse Coopers (PWC), KPMG or DeLoitte & Touche.

The following are a few general pointers to help you identify where you will best fit in:

  • Speak to Israeli colleagues before you make Aliyah. Find out what aspect of your professional experience is most valuable to the local market.
  • Utilize your connections abroad to help you identify job options here. Business contacts in the U.S. may lead you to both contacts and business opportunities in Israel.
  • Don’t underestimate the importance of your native English skills. Many companies value having an English speaker on staff.
  • If you come with a background in management, don’t expect it to land you a parallel position in Israel. Native Israelis have an advantage over Olim when it comes to management positions. Instead, focus your job search either on small companies or on American companies. Alternatively, find a position in a large Israeli environment where seniority is not the key factor – for example, you might land a job in an Israeli firm as VP of Marketing, a position where your knowledge as a foreigner and experience with U.S. clients is valuable.

Information about the Israeli market and local financial institutions:

Information about career opportunities in banks:

After passing both of these exams, you will take a separate exam to become a signatory, after which you will be eligible to apply for management or assistant management positions within the bank. To apply for a training program, send your CV with a cover letter to the HR department of each bank. The programs are often not advertised, and the information is only available by contacting the bank directly. If you come with a strong background in the field from abroad, you may be exempt from part of the program.

For contact numbers for each bank, see the following link.

The Israeli market for personal financial services is well established, though it is not as sophisticated as the parallel market in the U.S.

For information about the life insurance market:

There are about 40 private asset management firms in Israel. Following are examples:

International Investments

If you are knowledgeable about investment opportunities abroad, you may find prospects in this field. For more information about investment banks and private funds in Israel, see IVC Research Center.

Professional Licensing

If you are interested in working for a bank or private financial institution, consider getting an SEC license. For more information,  see the Israeli Securities Authority site: www.isa.gov.il and review the following article from our website: Olim and ISA

The following Israeli recruitment agencies focus on financial positions:

Networking 

It is difficult to apply for jobs before you make Aliyah, as employers are usually not interested in applicants before they’ve made the big move. But you can help jumpstart the process by creating a network of professional contacts via LinkedIn. Come to Israel several months before your Aliyah on a short, job-related pilot trip. Meet with those LinkedIn professional contacts and establish a more personal relationship with them. Keep  in touch with these contacts after your pilot trip so that you will have a network in place when you come on Aliyah. Many Olim land jobs through people they have ‘met’ on LinkedIn and on their pilot trips.

The Nefesh B’Nefesh Employment Department is happy to provide potential olim with contacts in their fields. Please write to us at [email protected].

Please provide us with a brief description of your job/ field.

I am the CEO and founder of the IAL Group (Israel at Last). Having worked in the banking industry, with Olim, for approximately eight years before I started by own company, we intimately understand the financial challenges that accompany Aliyah and extend support to Olim so that they have the tools, knowledge, and support system to navigate their new reality. We specialize in the fields of investments, insurance, financial planning, and real estate. I was inspired to create my own business and contribute to the Anglo-community because I wanted to help Olim with issues that I and almost all Olim have faced, and to deal with important areas of finance that Olim need addressed.

What experience do you need to get into your field? What degree should someone come with before making Aliyah? Does it make any difference whether you studied in Israel or abroad?

The best thing you can do to bolster your employment potential is to garner experience – especially from a place that is reputable. If you are not making Aliyah right after graduation, there are no specific degrees that you must obtain before making Aliyah. Obviously, something finance-related helps, but if your degree isn’t in finance, but you have relevant work experience on your CV, this is more significant. It matters less what you studied and more what job you pursued after graduation. However, second or third degrees/certificates and experience do have the potential to set you apart.

What recommendations can you offer the Oleh looking to work in this field?

It can really help to be proactive and start the process of converting your different licenses before making Aliyah- and if not then, as quickly as possible. While some employers will pay for your conversions or new certificates, doing it from inception will no doubt increase your employability. It is also very important to be realistic. Aside from the challenges of breaking into a new country’s industry, the size of the market is small compared to overseas. Chances are that you will not find your dream job immediately- remember that many people do not and that is alright. Find a respectable job, start building up your CV, take part in the training opportunities at your current work, diligently develop your skills, expand your network, and make the most of your time until that dream job comes your way.

How essential is it to know Hebrew?

A good level of Hebrew is great and is 8 out of 10 in terms of essentiality. Please don’t let this deter you though. English is certainly a plus for certain projects and depending on the place’s niche, could be more relevant. For example, Hebrew is super important for more mainstream local financial and investment companies. However, some of the more niche financial players, such as private banks, hedge funds, private equity and fintech companies do not always require the best Hebrew.

What is the salary range? What are the benefits?

Like most jobs, the salary depends on the place of employment and where you are on the hierarchy of skills and management. For example, a bank teller will be making about 5,000 NIS a month. Someone who works at an investment bank can be making 50,000 NIS a month. A semi-decent position at an Israeli bank/institution will probably be making somewhere between 7-12,000 NIS a month. While a monthly salary surpassing 40,000 NIS can be a challenge, it is possible. Many places of employment have various training courses as they are often looking for employees to train and develop. If one takes advantage of these opportunities, one could have a very dynamic trajectory regarding one’s salary and position within a company. These training courses are the biggest benefits of working for the large institutions, as they simultaneously allow one to expand their skills in their own company, as well one’s marketability in terms of finding the next (or dream) job.

Describe the personal growth opportunities that exist.

Larger companies will provide training opportunities. This will allow you to progress in new positions and related fields. However, this will also depend on where you work. There are many different trade-offs between working at a larger company versus a smaller company and this is just one of them. As I mentioned before, and cannot emphasis enough, take advantage of your time and current opportunities. Work at a company that pays for your licensing or examination fees, create connections, and participate in training courses until your dream job is attainable.

How do most people in your field find a job? Who are the major employers in the field?

There is no concentration of Olim in any specific company. However, many Olim gravitate towards work in the investment sector as there are several English-speaking or international firms in this area. In terms of general employment options (not Oleh-specific), many Israelis work in the big banks such as Hapoalim, Leumi, etc. or the large insurance companies such Harel, Migdal, Clal, Menorah, etc. One can find a job by utilizing LinkedIn or Facebook groups. The Anglo-community is very supportive and helpful; there are many friendly faces who are eager to help a new oleh with networking.

What are the upcoming areas of specialty you would recommend?

Quite honestly, it is too early to tell because of COVID-19. As of right now, if looking, employers want dedicated and hard-working employees who are familiar with technology and can diligently work remotely. In addition, an employee with experience in loans and credit is also a plus as this is a growing sector in Israel. Moreover, it is important to note how highly regulated the industry is. Financial companies have strict rules and guidelines that they need to follow, in a whole host of fields, so understanding this is important. On the other hand, companies like creativity, and being able to demonstrate a good balance between these two things is a major plus in the field of Israeli finance.

How do you feel about working and living here in Israel? What is your general advice?

I love it, thank G-d! The dynamics of my industry are different here than before. There are always exceptions but, the people here are committed to camaraderie. Of course, there exists a natural competitive spirit, but because of the shared experiences of living in Israel and its implications, there is a distinct ambience. I strongly believe that Israel is not about finding your dream job, but about creating your dream job. Idealism and initiative are intertwined in the very foundation and ethos of Israel.  I believe that my Aliyah definitely helped me tap this potential. If you want to create your dream job, you should familiarize yourself with the system and identify something that is missing – and then go about providing the solution!

Do you have suggestions of other mentors in your field we could reach out to as a resource for Olim?

I want to emphasis that I am always happy to help Olim in their career transition. As mentioned before, Facebook and LinkedIn are great resources, and most importantly, start working your existing network of friends and family already in Israel. One person sends your CV to someone else, who then sends it to three other people, and so on. That’s the way to do it!

Thank you to Gadi Last for this interview. He can be reached on Linked In here.  (May, 2020)

This guest post was written by Daniel Schwab and Jonathan Goldstein of Kayema. The content presented here represents information and opinions from the guest writers and not Nefesh B’Nefesh.

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