What hides behind the term “good career path?” Mainly, it’s about job compensation and prospects. But it doesn’t stop there. When making a career decision, you should also consider whether it matches your interests and skills. Even a high-paid job that opens up multiple opportunities is not a perfect fit if you don’t love what you do and have no attainments for it. It’s also important to understand the entry threshold and make sure you will be in demand in the labor market.
Before you start choosing jobs in the finance field, you need to fully understand what they involve. Together with Shania Brenson, the CEO of 15M Finance, we talk about the perspectives for finance jobs and outline skills you need to have to succeed.
What Is a Finance Career?
Finance careers are often associated with fancy suits and million-dollar deals. However, they are not limited to just Wall Street. These jobs are about handling money for yourself, companies, or even whole countries.
A finance industry career is represented by investment banking with deals like mergers and acquisitions. It also includes trading, risk management, and personal finance jobs designed to guide individuals on saving, investing, and protecting their wealth.
However, your options are much broader. Besides the positions mentioned above, you can consider accounting, insurance, financial planning, and other areas. One thing that is common for all these careers is that you will work with money flows and need to understand and manage them.
Benefits of Working in Finance
Working in finance looks tempting as it offers multiple perks. Here are the key advantages that can make you think of this career path:
Stability. Finance jobs are considered stable as they are in high demand, even in times of economic uncertainty. Many roles also come with competitive salaries and comprehensive benefits packages. This will make you more confident in your future financial well-being.
Opportunities to learn. The industry of finance is a dynamic and evolving field. More than that, it’s influenced by new markets, regulations, and modern tech. Working in finance means following its exciting new turns. This provides opportunities to learn and grow. No matter your position, you’ll be engaged in intellectually stimulating challenges.
Career ladder. Building a career in finance comes with rapid progression for those who have required skills and work hard. Additionally, there are multiple paths you can choose within the industry. You can try new roles and fields and find a job that suits your specific interests.
Impactful work. By working in finance, you can impact people’s lives and even the global economy. Financial specialists contribute to the success of businesses, individuals, and sometimes entire nations. This way, you may change it for the better. Quite enough to give you a sense of purpose and self-importance, right?
Lifestyle options. You can adjust your job in finance to your preferences by choosing the positions that correspond to your lifestyle. Some options offer the ability to travel internationally. Others come with flexible work schedules or remote work opportunities. You can review various career paths and choose a position that suits your individual needs.
Types of Jobs in Finance
Let’s consider the most popular (and highest-paid) jobs available in the finance sector.
Financial analysts are people who gather information from numbers and trends to uncover hidden insights. Their major responsibility is finding investment opportunities and guiding financial decisions. Analysts sort out company reports, forecast future performance, and build strategies and models followed by the next big financial steps.
Whether it’s for banks, investment firms, or even private corporations, financial analysts review the landscape thoroughly and help their clients make informed and profitable choices. If you enjoy finding hidden patterns and making sense of seemingly chaotic data, this career might be right for you.
Certified Financial Planner
A certified financial planner (CFP) is an ultimate money specialist who is good at multiple fields at once. They can help clients navigate investment, retirement, taxes, personal finances, and even debt management.
CPFs should clearly understand clients’ financial goals, whether it’s a dream house or early retirement, and create a personalized plan to help them reach their destination as soon as possible. They speak your language, not complicated Wall Street jargon, and translate difficult financial concepts into simple steps you can easily understand and take.
A financial advisor works with individuals and businesses to define and achieve their investment goals or navigate some complex financial matters. But they are not simply investment pickers. Financial advisors research multiple factors to provide solutions tailored to people’s unique circumstances, risk tolerance, and long-term vision.
Simply put, financial advisors use their extensive knowledge to create the right strategy aimed at safeguarding and multiplying your hard-earned money. To become a financial advisor, you need to pass certain licensing exams. They usually include the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority Series 7 Exam or the Series 65 Exam.
Securities traders are people who deal with stocks, bonds, and currencies. They manage these financial instruments and generate income by buying and selling securities at the right moments.
Traders study economic data, anticipate trends, and react to real-time market fluctuations with surgical precision. Of course, they employ sophisticated algorithms and use advanced trading platforms to simplify or automate some processes. However, to succeed, they need to have analytical skills, extensive knowledge and expertise, and the ability to calculate and predict risks.
Most traders have a degree in finance or related fields. However, it’s possible to become one even without a college degree. You just need to have extensive experience and understanding of how it works. Although it may sound simple, it’s not. There’s still hard work to do.
Investment banking is one of the most prestigious jobs in the financial sector. Investment bankers raise money through bonds, stocks, public offerings, venture capitalism, and mergers and acquisitions. Simply put they are financial advisors for corporations and governments. Although such a career may be tempting due to a high salary level, you should think twice. This is also a high-stress job. Plus, you need to have strong analytical and communication skills, attention to details, and confidence to become an investment banker.
Additionally, the investment banking world is quite difficult to enter. To get into, you need to have an MBA or a master’s in finance from a top-level program, register with the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), and pass the Series 7 and the Series 79 exams.
Portfolio managers are financial professionals who recommend personalized investment strategies and help clients build strong portfolios. They usually specialize in a certain class of asset, allowing them to solve narrow-profile tasks. However, there are also specialists who are responsible for multi-asset strategies. They are required to have a broad base of investment knowledge and experience in managing various asset classes.
Also, portfolio managers can make executive decisions when managing assets and employing strategies. This helps them act quickly and reach their clients’ financial goals. In addition to gaining a graduate degree in finance, potential portfolio managers usually attain the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) designation.
In most cases, portfolio managers don’t have huge career prospects or places to climb a career ladder, but this is not entirely true. However, they simply begin to manage larger amounts after they gain proper experience. This is exactly what gives them the opportunity to make more money. Also, many portfolio managers become entrepreneurs and launch their own companies.
Being an economic analyst means monitoring a wide range of market and economic conditions in order to identify major industry trends. This kind of job can suit people who enjoy tracking and analyzing data and forming opinions about the direction that financial markets move toward. However, it’s not only about data analysis and trend identification. Writing, public speaking, and working with Excel or other spreadsheet programs are also quite common tasks you will have to do in this position.
Economic analysts typically work at investment banks, money management companies, and other conventional financial institutions. There are also many of them in academia, government, and the public sector. Most financial analysts are MBA graduates, and many of them also hold PhDs.
Financial auditors assess the accounting procedures and financial data of various organizations. This job is mostly about verifying that the data is accurate and complies with all other reporting requirements and policies.
Financial auditors can be external and internal. Internal auditors are company employees who are appointed by the Board of directors in order to find some internal problems, mistakes, and fraud. They provide independent and objective evaluations of financial and operational business activities. External auditors are third parties who conduct an audit of the financial statements of a company, government agency, or other organization. Their major goal is to make sure the company works in compliance with applicable laws and regulations.
Chief Financial Officer
Chief financial officers are experts who oversee their finance departments and are in charge of their companies’ overall financial well-being. Commonly, they are responsible for analyzing a company’s financial strength and weaknesses and proposing strategies and decisions aimed at boosting its financial health. Creating reports, coming up with plans to improve cash flow, and making sure financial regulations are followed are usually among their daily tasks.
An accountant is a specialist who maintains accounting and tax records, prepares reports for government agencies and interacts with them, and processes payments. Every company needs accounting specialists to keep its financial records in order and make sure it’s profitable.
All the actions an accountant takes influence many processes and affect each department, from the goods supplies to the paying taxes and salaries. Therefore, an accounting specialist must be familiar with the regulatory framework, know industry legislation, and constantly improve their skills.
Insurance brokers provide governments, companies, and individuals with financial security by charging a certain fee. The insurance industry is a vast and intricate field that provides a multitude of chances for people with diverse skill sets, ranging from creating mathematical models to closing deals with customers. Although a degree is not required to enter the field, many professionals hold certifications from reputable organizations like the Chartered Insurance Institute.
How Much Can You Earn If You Work in Finance?
Just like with any other career, finance job salaries vary widely. The sum you may earn depends on the field, workplace, years of experience, and location. Entry-level positions usually come with a median salary between $50,000 and $70,000 per annum. If you have several years of experience and an advanced degree, you can count on a mid-level position with an average annual pay of $80,000 to $150,000. Finally, senior-level financial jobs offer wages between $150,000 and $500,000 per year.
What Skills Do I Need to Work in Finance?
Perhaps the most important thing you need to enter corporate finance jobs is your willingness to master a profession. However, desire alone is not always enough. Many people are attracted to the high salaries in this field, but it’s also important to choose a job that suits your unique set of qualities and skills.
To start a career in finance, you should have the following major skills:
- Analytical skills. Financial jobs go hand in hand with analyzing data and making choices based on the information received;
- Attention to details. Even a minor mistake can cost you millions when it comes to the financial sphere. Therefore, you need to be very attentive to guide your clients to their financial goals and succeed in the field;
- Strong math skills. Working in finance means managing complex financial data, including financial reports, budgets, and statistics. This entails having a solid understanding of such mathematical concepts as algebra, calculus, and probability;
- Interest in finance. To work in finance, you need to understand how the market works. Awareness of current trends and events will keep you well-informed and help you make the right decisions;
- Communication skills. With the help of strong communication skills, you can better understand difficult topics, explain financial analysis to clients, and negotiate deals.
Are Finance Jobs in Demand?
Finance jobs are considered in high demand. They are the number one desirable jobs among the Z generation. According to Indeed, the top-3 in-demand finance careers include accountants, auditors, and credit analysts. Thus, working in finance can help you experience much-desired stability.
What to Pay Attention to When Choosing a Financial Career?
Below are some questions you need to ask when choosing a financial career.
Do you prefer teamwork or working by yourself?
Some positions in finance involve constant communication with new clients on a daily basis. However, you will work on your own most of the time and not be very involved in teamwork. If this suits you, a job in retail finance may be the right option. Otherwise, consider institutional finance jobs with their hierarchical systems. This way, you will be a part of a certain team within your department.
What is your dream workplace?
Do you want to work from a cozy office or have an opportunity for a remote job? If this is important to you, learn more about the profession you are potentially interested in and make sure it can meet your needs and expectations.
How long are you ready to learn?
While some jobs may not require a college degree or be available to people with a bachelor’s degree, others require you to be an MBA graduate or hold a PhD. You may also require certification or licensure for some positions. Plus, jobs like financial advisor or investment banker typically require you to pass an additional examination.
What income do you want to receive?
Make sure the career you choose gives you the prospects you want and pays according to your needs and ambitions. Otherwise, it may lead to frustration.
Are there available career options in your area?
If you live in a small city and don’t want to move anywhere, some finance jobs may not be the best option due to low demand. You will find more finance career opportunities in big cities with a high concentration of banks, insurance businesses, trade organizations, and financial institutions. You can search for career prospects in your area on websites like Indeed, LinkedIn, and Glassdoor.
For years I have studied American finance regulations. All the information in this blog is sourced from official or contrasted sources from reliable sites.
Salesforce Certified SALES & SERVICE Cloud Consultant in February 2020, Salesforce Certified Administrator (ADM-201), and Master degree in “Business Analytics & Big Data Strategy” with more than 13 years of experience in IT consulting.