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Is a career in finance a good idea? Opinions of an industry veteran

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Is finance a good career these days? This is a difficult question. Depending on who you ask, you’ll get different answers.

One of the most surprising aspects of my two-decade career in financial services at two of the largest brokerage firms has been how many career paths there are in the industry.

The financial services industry is not limited to roles such as Financial advisorfinancial planner, financial analyst, research analyst, investment banker, accountant or other job in finance.

Finance is a good career because there are so many different paths. Many don’t even require a degree in finance or relevant coursework. This article examines some of the lesser-known opportunities in this area.

Is a career in finance a good idea? Some things that might surprise you

Many people would be surprised to learn how many career paths there are and how well-paying a career in financial services is. Most jobs do not require a finance or business degree of any kind.

During my 22-year career, I changed paths often. I believe in finding what’s interesting until it’s gone. So I am often changed directions. Every time came with compensation.

A business class degree was not required for any of the following roles. I don’t have a bachelor’s degree in finance, but I’ve done them all. All these pinballs have increased my income almost 8 times over 22 years.

Service

Financial advisors need internal customer service. There are many areas in the service. Expertise in finance is usually not required. Service positions are easier ways to get your foot in the door.

Operations

There are many behind-the-scenes roles in financial services. Many of these roles reconcile financial data and financial records. These roles include supporting tax reporting, financial performance reporting, cash flow, financial reporting, securities trading, trade adjustments, corporate actions, pension processing and invoicing.

Product development

This position is responsible for the development of new products and features. These can be investment products or software. For example, financial planning software that clients, financial advisors, or financial planners use to develop plans.

Investment product risk manager

This was a compliance position, but I worked closely with other departments such as investment banking, product and advisory, legal and finance. The financial services industry and investment companies are heavily regulated. Risk and compliance are roles I didn’t even know existed until early in my career. There are many roles in these fields, and most pay well. Examples of risk management roles include financial risk manager, product risk manager, technology risk manager, and credit risk manager. For example, a credit analyst can monitor whether a the client takes on too much debt.

Analytics Manager

For me, this position was in the investment risk department, but these analytical roles exist in all areas of the industry. There are many roles that revolve around analyzing data to report to management. This is common in industries related to traditional finance.

Typically, entry-level roles involve data analysis and reporting. However, as you progress, you will need analytical skills.

Essential qualifications – experience or education with data. SQL is useful, but tools replace the need to own it.

There is so much financial data to analyze. I recommend it as one of the best career paths in finance.

Product Manager: Tips and Research

Product managers work in many industries. Product managers are responsible for either investment products or the applications and tools used by financial advisors and planners.

The Product Manager in the Advisory & Research department works with stakeholders to identify solid financial advice on topics such as:Maximum 401k?” or “asset allocation”.

Program Manager: Investment Consulting

This role focused on leading a $100 million program to grow the firm’s investment advisory offerings. I managed project managers and financial management of the program.

I was responsible for budgeting, financial modeling, financial reporting and overall program administration. I didn’t do the forecasting, but I controlled it.

Would you say that financial professionals are in demand?

As long as there is money, our world will need financial professionals to manage it. From insider experience at two different financial firms, I know which roles are growing the fastest. Compliance, risk management, product management, data science, artificial intelligence/machine learning and analytics are hot areas right now. Knowing what I know now about salaries and industry trends, I would focus on those areas if I were in college. Also, until our society improves teach children about moneywe will have to rely on financial professionals for guidance.

What career paths are common for finance professionals?

Most career paths for financial professionals are a) finance/accounting in any company or b) positions in financial services firms that require varying degrees of financial knowledge.

Both have a lot of potential. Under option a) there is potential upward movement within companies or the ability to move between companies. In option b) there is an opportunity to move from division to division.

The fact is that careers can have unexpected roads that you can turn down. They don’t have to be the path you drew. I’ve always believed that if you become what you want to become career-wise, it means you haven’t learned anything along the way. This is not always true, but it often is.

New trends or movements in the financial world

Positions related to Agile are gaining momentum. I have spent 22 years of my career at two major financial services firms, both of which are transitioning to a more agile operational approach. This agile approach was taken from the technology ecosystem and favors small but diverse teams that work autonomously. This is a big trend and a huge opportunity for those who are ready for it, as most people with experience in agile management do not have a finance background, while most people in finance are not familiar with agile management.

Skills and traits that make someone suitable for a career in finance

There are so many career paths in financial services that any skill or trait makes someone a good fit. The challenge is to understand what positions even exist.

Everyone knows the stereotypical positions in finance such as financial analyst, accountant, research, etc. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg of what’s out there. Portability, adaptability, and a willingness to learn are great traits for anyone in any career. Interpersonal skills are also useful.

Finance is a good career because there are many opportunities. There are opportunities even if you don’t know much about finance or investing.

What factors can affect your salary in a finance career?

In my 22+ years in the financial services industry, I have noticed three main factors that influence someone’s salary.

  1. Be strong in finance but not in a traditional finance role.
  2. The closer you are to supporting the “field”, the higher the income. This is especially true when it comes to bonuses.
  3. Risk and compliance positions. These positions are not as desirable because they are not glamorous. But they are needed, that’s why they are pay well.

What impact can the certification have on your financial career?

In the financial services industry, certifications are where I see the greatest return on investment. Certified Financial Planners and Chartered Financial Analysts are important titles. I am a CFA.

Every time I passed it (it consisted of 3 difficult exams) I received a significant bonus to my salary. Chartered Financial Analyst or Certified Financial Planner are not only credible letters behind your name, but training for them legitimately increases your knowledge base. This knowledge shortens your learning curve. I’m a big fan of both.

To a lesser extent (in the financial services industry), various FINRA licenses are useful. I have had a few, but they are not as valuable as a CFP or CFA.

A Chartered Accountant also opens many doors in the field of accounting and finance. CPA was a generic designation for senior management.

The ROI of these designations is also much higher than a financial education degree (especially a master’s degree).

How can earning a degree affect your career in finance?

It depends on what the degree is. A Master of Business Administration (MBA) is typical. An advanced degree in data-related fields makes a big difference.

Anyone who wants to become a generalist should get an MBA. Many of the people I worked with who had an MBA had two notable advantages over those who didn’t: they were better at public speaking and they had a better network.

Many finance jobs that people think of easily are also competitive. This may be because so many other positions in finance are not widely known. It can affect work-life balance job seekers targeting popular roles in the financial industry such as securities analyst, investment analyst and investment banker.

During my career in finance, I earned the same salary as those more popular positions, but worked fewer hours and did not have a major in finance.

Final thoughts

Finance is a great career path when you understand how many career paths exist in finance. This article touched on only a few of them. There are also roles in marketing, communications, legal, financial advisor development, human resources, recruiting, and more. None of them require knowledge of finance.

This article hasn’t even touched on all the financial careers in public accounting, financial accounting, accounts payable, payroll, auditing, or sales. It’s also nice to know you’re helping financial advisors help clients with their money.

This article was prepared and syndicated An abundance of geeks.

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