Much has changed since the era of 1970 when either being an insurance agent or a stockbroker were the only viable and profitable financial careers. Post-2000, multiple options have opened up for pursuing financial careers. This has also led to fierce competition and knowledge expectation. If you wish to establish a structured career path in finance, you need to make an early start.
So, are you excited to know about “Financial careers structured career path”? I am sure you are.
After being in this field for more than a decade, my understanding of what employers want is acute and informative for the listener. I am clear about the demands set by employers and I believe this information is going to help you a lot.
In this article, we will look into the basic necessities required to begin a career in finance. We are going to cover the basics.
Education Necessary for Financial Careers
Relevant education is one of the cornerstones that will serve you till the end of your financial career. During undergraduate and graduate studies, subjects like accounting, finance, business or economics should be a major subject.
Almost every known university offer these courses and they lay the foundation for advanced and complicated financial concepts.
Financial curricula dealing with taxes, insurance or investments will help in your understanding the psychology of the investor and finance.
These educative years should be used towards maximum benefit.
You pick up skills and knowledge that serves perfectly in the long run.
If nothing else, you need to ace in the preparatory years to clear tough interviews in prominent companies.
Whether it is a campus recruitment drive or a direct application, the interviewer panel judge the knowledge of the candidate and this knowledge comes from your dedicated and commitment towards the subject.
After graduation, you can pursue courses like MBA in Finance to strengthen hold over the subject.
Skills Necessary for Financial Careers
You, as a fresh graduate, may not have necessary skills for pursuing financial careers but know this, even if you are just a beginner, recruiters are looking for people with certain skill sets.
I always insist on gaining experience and acquiring skills required for your career first than to focus on the “salary package”.
Are you surprised? Why do I say this?
Okay, do not take my word for it; rather take your time and think the logic behind this.
Companies in financial research and analysis are looking for people who will do the job of analyzing companies, do financial forecasting and valuation, and write reports for clients. If you do not have these skills, sorry, but they do not need you. They need someone who will do the job and is ready to work on projects too!
Now, you will say that “I am an MBA or a CFA and know the concepts very well”. But,
- Do you know how to screen companies?
- Can you tell which company is fundamentally strong and what is the value of a company as per DCF (Discounted Cash Flow) and what is the peer company’s valuation in its sector?
- Can you forecast a company’s financials?
- Can you write research reports?
If the answer is “No” to any or all of these questions, then it’s high time you focus on acquiring these skills and then start applying to companies and see the difference.
This is about the functional aspects of the career. What about other skills? Yes, they are equally important!
The Human Resource department extensively makes use of job sites like Naukri.com and Monster.com for recruitment. They look for certain skill sets and keywords in your profile. Hence, this is also one of the important steps in searching a job.
Your resume should be strong and in presentable format to get you shortlisted.
I have seen many people tweaking their resumes and making their profiles “search friendly” and presentable, and they have got good response from employers and some have even started their financial careers with good companies.
How to Acquire Skills?
The fact remains that most of our education is theory-based. As such, when people wish to enter the active workforce, they find it hard to get recruited.
However, you can avoid being in such a position by adequate preparation that will let you through initial stages. You could always opt for an internship.
Internship with a prominent bank or any other financial institution will give you hands-on experience of dealing with financial statements and data.
As an intern, you are even given administrative tasks.
You learn about writing financial reports from seniors and grasp many financial data analytical concepts.
If you wish to sit for the Certified Financial Planner (CFP) Board exam, working with a bank and handling aspects like preparing Income Tax returns will be really beneficial.
Once the internship is over, if your performance is good, the internship company can retain you. Otherwise, there are campus recruitment possibilities and direct employment through portals like Naukri.com and Monster.com.
Prepare an impressive resume, mentioning every detail that will help further your financial career. Write about internships and achievements. Be firm about financial concepts. You can even do extra non-curriculum reading.
Be sure about your career choice. There are a lot of options available. You can choose to become a stockbroker, an equity research analyst, an investment banker and more. The choice you make at this stage, the starting stage of your financial career, will pave the way for future growth. Try to get associated with big companies. It is fine to work for small firms to get experience but your target should be high-end companies with immense growth potential.
After some years working in this field, you can exit the conventional job sector and become independent. You can become an independent financial analyst, a financial consultant or an investment manager.
How about your resume (CV)? Is it in presentable format? Are you getting calls from employers? Feel free to share your experience with me.
This is the first part of Financial Careers: Structured Career Path.