Careers in the Financial Services: A Guide

Choosing a career in the financial sector is often viewed as a shortcut to the highest salaries, and while there is some truth to this, this particular career offers plenty of other benefits for ambitious professionals. The financial services industry is far more varied than many people realize with a range of roles and job positions, each suited to different interests, skills, and levels of education.

Whether you are already working in the financial services industry and looking to move into a new sector or you’re a recent graduate choosing a path, you need to research your opportunities as much as possible. To help you understand your options, here is a guide to some of the most common financial services careers today.

Commercial Banking

The commercial banking sector provides financial services to companies and institutions of all sizes from local businesses to international corporations. Services provided can include loans, IRAs, savings and checking accounts. This results in a wide range of employment opportunities from working in a local branch to corporate offices working on an international level.

Investment Banking

Investment banking has a reputation as an affluent career path with plenty of opportunities to earn money, but also for being a stressful and challenging industry at times. The sector focused on making corporate shares or securities available for purchase and advising both individual and corporations to invest in said shares. The career involves interacting with other professionals including acquisitions professionals issuers of securities and as well as the stock market.  

Corporate Finance

If you choose to work in corporate finance, you would be responsible for sourcing and managing funds which will enable the company you are employed by to operate. The company could be small or large. This includes establishing a company’s financial strategy, forecasting turnover, profits and losses, preparing financial reports and statements, negotiating lines of credit, working with external auditors, maximizing the company’s value and minimizing financial risk. Depending on the role, you may also be involved in acquisition and mergers, including calculating the potential value or risk.

Hedge Funds

A hedge fund is a private investment fund which is unregulated, so the manager of the fund can buy or sell a variety of financial products and assets. Hedge fun jobs can include being a trader, regulatory compliance officer, financial or quantitative analyst or portfolio manager.

Private Equity

Private equity professionals help businesses to find funding to enable them to operate and/or expand as well as a range of business transactions, restructuring projects or managed buyouts. Sometimes a private equity professional may work on temporary assignments to help a company which is struggling financially or to help a start-up or small enterprise cope with growth.

Public Accounting

Public accountants help individuals and businesses to manage their finances including recording business transactions, auditing financial records, preparing income tax returns, and financial statements. They may also provide consultancy. Accountants may work within large partnerships or smaller companies.

Financial Planning

A financial planner helps their clients to create a plan to improve their financial stability both now and in the future. This may be through savings and investments, wealth preservation and tax and estate planning. Certified Financial Planners (CFPs) are perceived as of a higher quality as they must have 3 years of experience, pass specific examinations and continue to meet education requirements.

Improving Your Career Prospects

To improve your chances of reaching your full potential in the financial sector, it’s often wise to elevate your level of education to the highest possible level. This is true of both graduates and those who graduated some time ago and have been working in the sector ever since. For example, studying for an MBA (Master’s in Business Administration) in finance will deepen both your knowledge and skills.

If you are a professional who is hoping to transfer your skills to another sector such as corporate finance, this kind of course could also give you the experience you need to apply for new positions. Educational institutions such as Suffolk University in Boston offer an online MBA in corporate finance to provide students with flexible learning opportunities. Visit https://online.suffolk.edu/programs/mba/finance for more information.

Before pursuing a specific role or financial sector, it’s advisable to research the direction of the financial market and any current trends. Some roles will be in higher demand than others which will increase your chances of success. On the other hand, it’s crucial that you choose a role which suits your interests and plays to your strengths to ensure long term viability.

Where to Look for Opportunities

One of the reasons why the financial sector is such a lucrative one is because almost every company and organization needs someone with financial knowledge and skills. However, this does not mean that generic employment websites are necessarily the best place to find opportunities. Look online job boards and financial services recruitment agencies which will be able to connect you with the latest and most appropriate opportunities for your skill set and experience.

In addition, consider attending networking events and conferences to establish contacts and professional relationships in the financial sector. Personal interactions can often lead to recommendations and job opportunities so it’s essential to conduct yourself professionally and courteously at all times.