Finance is a field that requires strong analytical skills and attention to detail. While many people associate finance with stock trading, there are a variety of careers in finance beyond this, such as financial forecasting and investments for businesses and clients.
As the finance and tech industries become increasingly intertwined, professionals who work in these areas can maximize returns on investments for individuals and organizations. This guide explores whether a career in finance is a good option, and answers frequently asked questions about finance.
First and foremost, a career in finance can pay very well. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average salary for financial managers is $131,710.
The median salary is only a starting point; many finance managers earn much more. In fact, top earners make salaries in the hundreds of thousands to millions.
Many finance careers offer a high degree of job security. It is important to note that large institutions release the bottom third of their performers (give or take) yearly. Although there is a lot of volatility and uncertainty surrounding many of these positions, finance is still a secure field.
The most recent developments in the area where finance and tech (fintech) intersect enable finance professionals to stay current in an evolving field. The ongoing requirement for employees who can evaluate investment opportunities will continue to spur demand for careers in finance.
Doing well in a finance job can lead to many opportunities for advancement. For example, if you start out as a financial analyst and do your job well, you could eventually become a vice president or even the chief financial officer (CFO) of your company. Additionally, if you own a business, there is no limit to how much money you can make.
Education for Finance Careers
While a four-year college degree is not strictly required for all finance jobs, most employers prefer candidates who have one. This is due to the complexity of the work and typical responsibilities. Jobs with more responsibilities, such as managing teams and departments, might require a master’s degree.
A bachelor’s degree is a good first step to building a career in finance. Common majors, besides finance degrees, are math, statistics, accounting, or business. You might also consider a master’s degree in finance (MF) or business administration (MBA) to help you advance in your career.
You may wonder if finance is a good option for a career if you’re unsure of what job you want. A finance or accounting degree can lead to many different types of jobs, which is beneficial if you want to try out different professions during your career. Once you’re in one finance career, you can use your transferrable skills and knowledge to pivot to another.
Skills You Need
In order to have a successful career in finance, you must have strong math skills. This includes being able to understand and work with complex financial data, like statistics, financial reports, and budgets. This means being comfortable with mathematical concepts such as probability, calculus, and algebra. If you're not confident in your math skills, consider taking some refresher courses before embarking on a finance career.
Hunger to learn
The roles available in financial services usually involve giving information and advice, such as through journalism, data analysis, or customer service on complex systems. Since you will be expected to become an expert quickly, it is important that you show a willingness to learn all you can about your chosen field.
A business’ financial outcome is largely dependent on the company’s performance as well as various other external factors that may or may not be within our control. Skilled finance professionals use their superforecasting skills to predict outcomes with great accuracy.
Skilled finance professionals understand market dynamics and the effect that changes in these dynamics can have on the company’s financial performance. Since a company’s performance is directly related to business performance, finance professionals are expected to have the business acumen that can help in the decision-making process.
They should be innovative enough to automate their mundane tasks so that they can focus on activities that will add more value to themselves as well as to the organization.
Great communication skills
With the need for today's finance professionals to communicate with others often through email, conference calls, chat, or in person, cubicles are no longer the only place they are restricted to. When communication is face-to-face, it requires interpersonal skills.
Finance professionals are expected to have a good awareness of their written and oral communication skills. They should also have a good working knowledge of the financial jargon and acronyms that are in common usage. As finance involves numbers, anything that is wrongly communicated could affect the company’s brand in the external world.
Analytical thinking is another important skill for finance professionals. You must be able to analyze data and identify trends to make sound decisions, and you need to always be ready to think critically and solve problems. Those who are not naturally analytical can improve their skills by working with a finance tutor, taking courses, and practicing on their own time.
Attention to Detail
Paying close attention to detail is of the utmost importance in finance as one small mistake can have a ripple effect, causing major financial implications. For example, if an error is made when inputting data into a spreadsheet, this could lead to an incorrect financial statement.
If this occurs, personal financial investors or creditors could be given inaccurate information about the company's financial well-being, which could cause them to lose money. Therefore, it is essential to be precise and accurate when handling numbers in this career.