For people wanting to get into the lucrative financial sector, getting a degree is just the beginning. From there, there are literally dozens of career options, ranging all the way from niche insurance jobs to head of a brokerage firm. What’s more, financial services aren’t one giant monolithic block – they’re just as varied as any other industry, offering all kinds of services to clients. The trick to succeeding in the sector is to land in a job that complements your skills and interests. Some people love the idea of taking people’s money and investing it in the stock market. Others prefer to play around with macros on spreadsheets all day long, figuring out how to balance the company books.
Here are some career paths in finance that you might want to consider.
If you’re somebody who loves to guess at the future, you’ll enjoy work in corporate finance. Part of the work in corporate finance is to produce forecasts based on what has happened in the past. Parts of the job can be relatively technical, especially if you’re using regression analysis to do things like prediction, but they can also be very rewarding, especially if you have an inquisitive mind. Forecasting is all about working out where the company should spend its precious capital next. Should it invest more in social media, for example? Or should it transfer its operations to a new location and set up shop somewhere else with lower costs? All these are important questions you’ll ask in a career in corporate finance.
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As you move up the corporate finance career ladder, you’ll encounter increasingly challenging projects. Among the most challenging are those governing mergers and acquisitions, including trying to determine the value of the acquisition target. For instance, Facebook had a whole team of people from the world of corporate finance try to calculate how much Instagram was worth back in 2011 before it was acquired by the social network giant for $1 billion.
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When people think of careers in financial services, they’re mostly thinking about careers in commercial banking. These include things like loan officers, branch managers, tellers, and marketing professionals. The good thing about commercial banking is that talented individuals can quickly rise up the ranks and get paid very well, especially as they move towards the top. Jobs at company headquarters tend to be particularly lucrative, paying large bonuses for good performance.
Private Equity And Venture Capital
All of the world’s most successful startups, from Uber to Airbnb, began life with a round of seed funding. A bunch of investors saw their potential and decided to risk their money, hoping for impressive returns. For those particular businesses, those early investors had their dreams come true, and those companies grew into the monsters they are today.
Venture capitalists aren’t just people who have loads of money sitting around in a bank account in Panama. They’re also just regular people who love to work with small businesses and startups and help get projects off the ground. Some venture capitalists get involved in the process directly, while others delegate to surrogates to negotiate on their behalf. As part of their financial services contracting, they talk to businesses about their plans and try to work out whether they have a viable business model. The idea is to get the best possible deal for the venture capitalist that the startup company founders are willing to accept. Be forewarned, venture capital is a tough business and not one for the faint-hearted.
With the rise of apps like Mint, you might think that demand for independent financial planners is falling. However, apps haven’t yet caught up to the complexities of managing one’s finances, meaning that there’s still a need for a human to be in the loop. The job of financial planners is to give people financial goals and plans that allow them to save and invest to meet their targets. There are all sorts of areas in which you could specialize, including things like tax and estate planning – something which is in high demand by wealthy people.
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You don’t have to have any formal training to become a financial planner. However, those with Certified Financial Planner designations usually take the lion’s share of the business. Financial planners work in all sorts of contexts, from inside large organizations to their own private offices.
The purpose of insurance is to give people a way of mitigating the risks that they face in life and business. The most interesting insurance careers are, however, those that are business-facing. It’s the job of an insurance financier to price up insurance for companies depending on the amount of risk that they face, using the company’s internal risk assessment model. The higher the risk, the higher the premium.
People starting off in this sector usually get jobs as sales reps selling policies or customer service assistants. But as you work your way up the career ladder, the jobs become a lot more attractive and much better paid. At the top of the pile are the people who come up with the risk models themselves, calculating them from complex data sets collected from customers.
The definition of public accounting is broad, but in general, it means helping individuals and businesses keep track of their accounts and remain compliant. The entire discipline is based on the generally accepted accounting principles, or GAAP, and can involve everything from offering tax advice to auditing company records.
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Accountants usually work in partnerships with other accountants. In the world of accounting, people sometimes refer to the “big four” – four companies that dominate employment in the industry: KPMG, PriceWaterhouseCoopers, Deloitte and Ernst & Young. There used to be more big players in the accounting industry, but it has consolidated dramatically over the past few years leaving these four as the largest in the industry. There are plenty of other smaller accounting outfits, of course, although having one of the bigger ones on your CV is certainly an advantage.