A career in banking and the financial field can include some services, such as investing, saving and retirement plans. Also, they include positions like financial adviser, analyst, customer service or sales, as far as banking goes.
However, a career in banking and financial services, as well as the job in itself, can be deceptively easy. It seems like all you need is a finance degree and a few people skills to work in a bank, and you’re all set.
However, depending on the branch you have in mind, that is more or less far from the truth. Careers in the financial domain are usually difficult to get started in, and they involve working long hours in a stressful environment. So let’s break down careers in banking and financing and see exactly what you’re up against.
Banking and financial services careers – the basics
Employees in this field usually work in commercial banks, mortgage-related companies, savings and loan firms, and credit unions.
They can also work in government agencies or for companies who require financial professionals to manage their portfolio or their business. They can audit and regulate other institutions as well.
In order to get into the financial and banking business an applicant needs a Bachelor’s degree in a related field. One can apply even if they don’t have one, but it’s unlikely they will be called in for an interview or be considered for a position.
They should also have strong analytical skills, enjoy working with numbers all the time, as well as outstanding communication and people skills. They need to be able to connect to their customers, clients and, last but not least, their stakeholders.
Individuals that want a job in banking or a related financial field, usually start off in a commercial bank, in a customer service position, so that they can gain experience.
They can also work in lending institutions or credit card companies. After that, they can move on to a position in sales. This is where they can provide information to investors about the stocks they’re interested in, as well as bonds and retirement funds. A financial analyst can also work for an investment bank, a mutual fund organization, an insurance company or a pensions and securities firm.
Careers in banking and jobs in finance
As stated above, banking is somewhat more complicated than it might seem at first glance. There are a number of jobs you can perform, depending on what you want to do. Here are a few of the most important jobs in the banking and financial fields, as well as some details on every one of them.
1. Banking jobs
The image, as well as the role of the banker is rapidly changing. It used to be surrounded by a stereotype, of the elusive person behind a big desk, who may or may not give you a loan or agree to the terms of your mortgage. Not anymore. Now they are actually very dynamic leaders, with great communication skills, that know how to motivate both their teams and their clients.
The easiest way to get a job in banking is at a commercial bank. There are quite a lot of them and they usually have openings that can be filled quite easily once you’ve covered the basics of the job. Here are some examples of very well-known commercial banks.
- JPMorgan Chase
- Bank of America
- Wells Fargo Bank
- Bank of New York Mellon Corp.
- HSBC Bank USA
- Deutsche Bank Trust Co. Americas
- Morgan Stanley Private Bank
- First Republic Bank
- Valley National Bank
Jobs in a commercial bank vary greatly. You can do anything, from attending the customers to sales to doing back office or accounting work.
This is why the best idea here would be for you to try to decide as early as possible the direction in which you would like your career to go. If at all possible, try deciding as early as college, so that you can follow the proper courses, take additional ones if necessary and study as much as possible the particular field you’ve chosen. This is very important as applicants with a diploma and full educational knowledge of their field have the best shot at getting a job.
As far as job options in a commercial bank go, here are three popular ones.
1. Investment banker
They normally work for huge, global companies, where they handle all the trading.
This means that they sell stocks and look for venture capital (lending sums of money to people or businesses while becoming part-owners during the whole process).
Apart from that, an investment banker analyses, makes reports and then advises the bank he or she works for regarding their stakes in various businesses. Simply put, they use their skills and knowledge to advise the bank or their particular clients if and when they should invest in a certain company. Hence the name investment banker.
As far as the details go, the specialized literature you’ll find out there won’t really be able to tell you how a day in the life of an investment banker goes. Because there are no two days alike when you’re doing this job. It’s all about doing as much networking as you can and finding opportunities everywhere. You will need to be on top of all the global trends, because they can and will affect your strategic decisions.
As far as pros and cons of being an investment banker go, the pros are all about the money, while the cons are all about the schedule.
It’s a very difficult and stressful job, that very much goes on 24/7, every day of the week. This doesn’t mean you have to be at the office all the time, per se. But you will have to go to meetings and all sorts of events organized by your company where you have to do some networking.
Also, you will need to stay updated at all times by reading the specialized papers, watching the news and keeping an eye on the market. As mentioned, the cons regard money. Although stressful and difficult, it pays very good money. Please read below for further details on salaries in the banking and financial services.
Another crucial thing you need to consider about the investment banker job before applying is the psychological aspect.
Think very carefully if you are the type of person that can handle long hours of work and very little sleep, if you can handle the pressure of having a multi-million-dollar deal on your shoulders or if you can handle the stress that comes when you know you are the expert, who tells huge clients where to invest their money. You need to have a certain type of personality to pull this off.
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2. Bank cashier
This means working at the front-desk of any commercial bank out there.
Needless to say, you have to be presentable, pleasant, professional, and very good with people. The job is very customer-focused and it’s basically based on sales. Because, apart from helping people with their requests, you also need to always be sharp and spot the potential leads that may appear. Through them you can sell different services to clients.
In this way, you will help the bank meet its targets. From a practical point of view, you will have to cash cheques, check statements, process the payments, assure money transferring and update account details as needed.
It’s not a flexible job. This means you will be working from 9 to 5 every business day of the week. The good news is you will hardly ever need to do over-time.
As far as salaries go, a junior cashier earns some $17 000 a year, while one with experience can go as high as $30 000. You will need a diploma for this position as well, but on the plus side, banks often hire people who have just finished school.
3. Bank manager
Seeing as this is a management job, you will need to oversee all the operations and make sure your team hits its sales target, is trained and very well motivated.
The following tasks are unique to this job: meeting with your customers and clients to resolve their issues, ensuring customer service in your bank is the best it can be, monitoring the sales targets and reporting back to your head office.
Salaries start at $28 000, but, as time goes by and you gain more and more experience, you can reach $75 000 per annum. As an added value, it is customary for bank managers to receive performance bonuses.
As far as education goes, you can apply for this job as a financial specialist or an accountant, for which you will need a college degree. Otherwise, you can apply for a customer service position. You won’t need a financial degree, but you will have to work your way up from a simple customer service person to bank manager.
This is yet another position you can have in the banking and financial field, besides working in an actual commercial bank.
A stockbroker manages its client’s financial portfolio. A customer can either mean an entire company or an individual. Practically you will be continuing the work of the investment analyst, described above. After you’ve received advice from him, you will then present to your client the options they have with regards to buying or selling different stocks.
Successful stockbrokers need to be quick thinking, have excellent ideas, and they need not be afraid of making risky decisions.
Here’s what you will have to do in this position: ask for information from the investment analysts, do some research on the financial market yourself, report back to your client with the findings, monitor their investments and pitch for new customers all the time.
Aside from what everyone thinks about accountants, you should know the job per se is not boring at all.
It’s very exciting and rewarding and accountants are very well-respected in their field. However, the best part of the job is the salary. A junior position pays $20 000 a year, without bonuses. There are a number of jobs you could do as an accountant, such as:
- Assistant accountant
- Legal accountant
- Managing accountant
- Part-time accountant
- Payroll accountant
- Tax specialist
6. Ledger clerk
If you happen to be one of those special people that can hold on to money, not spend it and keep track of it, then you might want to consider a profession as a ledger clerk.
The salary is very good for this particular position as well. It can be as high as $30 000 a year. And you have two choices. You can be either a sales ledger clerk or a purchase ledger one. From both, you will gain a lot of experience as well as knowledge of the field.
As far as education goes, employers usually don’t require an entry set. However, you should have at least five GCSEs, including English and Math.
You can be a credit or a finance controller. Both jobs basically mean you will be looking after the accountants. Therefore, you will analyze the books, report to the management team based on your findings, auditing, monitoring your entire department and its performance, overseeing all the tax and compliance problems, and giving an insightful opinion regarding your company’s financial strategy.
Keep in mind that this is one particular position where you will have to work extra hours, especially when you have a big deadline coming or during quarter ends.
It’s a somewhat flexible job, meaning you won’t be forever stuck at your desk. Because you need to oversee your entire department, you will need to go around from desk to desk and participate in meetings. Salaries are very good, starting at $30 000. They can rise up to $50 000 per year.
Careers in banking and the financial field salaries
Although you’ve already had a good peek at the pay for every banking job in particular, here is an overall. First of all, here is a look at the banks that pay their employees most, according to Forbes. The ranking is about financial analysts, but you can quickly draw your conclusions from that.
- Goldman Sachs – $74,958
- Bank of America – $72,896
- Capital One – $70,091
- American Express – $67,670
- JPMorgan Chase – $66,770
Here is a short list of the average salaries in the business, by branch, according to PayScale.com.
- Branch Manager, Banking – $54,762
- Personal Banker – $35,722
- Assistant Branch Manager, Banking – $41,797
- Credit Analyst – $46,065
- Bank Manager – $59,392
- Financial Analyst – $58,375
- Loan Officer – $45,555
Can you have a career in banking if you’ve got an Economics degree?
This is one question many students ask themselves.
Luckily for them, the answer is yes.
Banking careers are very sought after by students because they offer the possibility of very high paychecks. Also, economists are very much in demand with banks. That’s because financial institutions value economics students for the roles they play in financial control, monetary planning, risk management, data analysis, and economic consultancy.
As an economics student or a fully-fledged economist, you can have a career in these two areas of the financial field.
- Accountancy–indeed, in order to become an accountant, you will need further studies, but most of these professionals base their roles in a company on primary economic qualifications. When you are an accountant, you need to monitor the financial situation of a certain company or individual. This, in reality, means that your knowledge needs to extent over multiple fields. Accountants also require many of the skills an economics student or graduate often has by default, such as contextualizing a financial situation, getting to the root of a financial problem, being organized, being able to make sense out of very intricate data sets, and be very proficient as far as mathematics go.
- Business and financial consultancy – when it comes to financial consulting, economists are indispensable. Their roles within this particular field vary greatly, but economics students tend to find jobs in medium-sized and large companies that require financial analysis and consultancy. As far as what it is exactly you will be doing, the role is considered to be somewhat self-explanatory. This means you will need to have very good knowledge of classical economic theories and models and solve problems using your analytical skills.
When it comes down to working in a bank, you might think it’s all about the money, but it’s not. As shown, banking and financial careers are interesting, require you to use all your skills and your knowledge and are very rewarding, not just from a monetary point of view. While at your job, you will definitely meet new and exciting people, closing stupendous deals, learn how it is to handle millions of dollars’ worth of transactions and become a highly knowledgeable person. All this while getting paid regally.
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