How to Start a Career in Finance

If you are good with numbers, why not considering a career in finance?

Most businesses need talented individuals able to manage the money this is continuously flowing through their balance sheet. And it is even better if they can find profit opportunities within their financial duties.

Is this career for anyone? The answer is that it will be more or less hard, depending on the person. The first step is to get quality education. After secondary school, you need to attend college and graduate with a bachelor’s degree in a finance related field such as economics, accounting, math or statistics.

But you can also start a career in finance if you majored in other disciplines, such as the scientific ones. Recruiters love graduates with computer science, operation research or physics degrees. As these graduates are trained in very quantitative subjects making them perfect candidates for a finance career.

After graduating from college, you can apply at various companies such as banks, credit agencies, insurance companies or security brokers.

If you choose to work for a bank, you will normally have to start as a trainee doing various menial tasks. This is a great way to learn how the bank functions. Keep your eyes wide open as there is so much to learn, including the internal politics which are crucial to understand for whomever has ambition.

If you focus on the job and perform, you will then be promoted to a production job like approving loans or selling financial services to clients. Or to a back office function such as running the computer system for the bank, performing bank transfers or doing financial management.

Being a sales is one of the best jobs, if not the best, so take it if you get a chance. Most listed financial organizations rely on their sales to generate business, and the rest are just managing the business brought by the sales. Hence sales department should be staffed with the strongest candidates.

If you go into securities sales, you can make a lot of money for yourself, as you may be involved with large deals in the millions of dollars or even hundreds of millions of dollars. And as sales are paid by commission, the larger the deals you bring in, the more you make for yourself.

But this is a very competitive field requiring overcoming another hurdle, and that is to complete a graduate school, preferably a top one. This is absolutely necessary because the market is so competitive and because you must be knowledgeable in the material taught at these schools in order to be considered a true finance professional.

Of course starting a career in finance also requires more than one personal skill. The most important is “people skills”. Without it, you cannot survive in the jungles, both inside and outside financial companies.

It has been said that finance is one of the most political job, and it makes sense given that there is so much money to be made there. Clients are courted by powerful competitors, and you must be able to make an impression.

You will have to be resilient like in any sales job. When things do not work out as planned after you pitched a sale, you must pick yourself up again. Always maintain your optimism and be ready when the next client comes your way.

A career in finance is a very demanding and challenging job. You will need to often work extra hours, sometimes in the office to meet a deadline and sometimes at the restaurant to entertain a client. Make sure you are really committed if you plan to make this your long-term career goal.

The financial services sector has been contracting during the recession, but now that growth is coming back it is a perfect time to start a career in finance. Companies need fresh blood, young people without the greed and bad habits of their predecessors.

If you are not sure, check your math grades and talk with your advisor and your parents. Ask for advice from people working in finance. This is an important decision, so spend the time and effort to assess if you should start a career in finance or not.