Ways to Advance Your Career in a Finance Role
Not everyone is suited for a career in finance. Notoriously difficult to break into, newcomers are frequently welcomed to the industry with heightened stress and long hours.
So, how do you know if finance is the right career path for you? And if you do choose a career in finance, how easy is it to advance your career? Another question you may be asking is how do you get started in a career in finance? Finally, what is the benefit of pursuing a finance career?
We’ll try and answer some of these questions and give you some pointers on how to get started and succeed in this fast-paced, dynamic industry.
Finance is a global industry that offers numerous career paths. Here are just a few of the reasons why people are choosing to start a career in finance.
Numerous Career Opportunities
Finance offers numerous career paths, ranging from accountant, to investment banker to financial analyst, with a lot in between. Whether you crave the excitement of trading or prefer the challenge of managing client portfolios, there are a lot of career opportunities available.
With the demand for financial professionals increasing every day, there are plenty of opportunities to go around.
It’s a Dynamic Industry
If you’re looking for a career that is continually changing, finance is a great choice. New markets, new laws, and new technology have led to massive changes in the finance industry in recent years, placing a greater focus on tech-savvy individuals who are comfortable in this fast-changing environment.
Opportunity for Growth
The finance industry offers tremendous opportunities for growth. Companies today value experience, and whether you choose to stay and advance in one company, or move on to the next opportunity, there are plenty of options available for someone willing to put in the hard work.
What Is the First Step to Starting a Career in Finance?
Whether you’re interested in becoming an investment banker or a controller at a Fortune 500 company, the one thing that you’ll need to do is complete your education, starting with a bachelor’s degree, though many larger companies prefer an MBA.
If you’re leaning towards a career in accounting, be sure to take the required classes, particularly if you have hopes of taking the CPA exam to become a Certified Public Accountant.
If you’re leaning more towards financial planning or financial analyst, there are numerous certifications that you can obtain that may help you land your dream job.
What Do You Need to Do to Advance Your Career in Finance?
Once you enter the finance world, it’s only natural to start looking at ways to accelerate your career and reach your professional goals. These are just a few of the things you can do to jumpstart your finance career.
Enhance Your Qualifications
If you have a bachelor’s degree, but all other financial analysts at your company have an MBA, consider returning to school. Likewise, if the analysts all hold various certifications, start looking through certification options and pick the ones that will help you advance.
Networking is an important part of advancing your finance career and getting you on the radar of potential future employers. It also helps to keep you visible.
You should also consider joining professional organizations, and showing up for meetings and events. Finally, don’t underestimate the importance of LinkedIn, so be sure to keep your profile up to date, to connect with other finance professionals.
Finance is not a static industry. Laws change, guidelines are updated, and technology is playing a more important role than ever before.
Even if your credentials are outstanding, there’s always an opportunity to learn new skills. The more you know, the more valuable you are to your current employer and other companies alike.
Find a Mentor in Your Field
Even with the best schooling, there are some things that you can only learn from experience.
That’s why finding a mentor can be so rewarding, particularly at the beginning of your career. A mentor can guide you through the rough patches, answer a lot of your questions, and provide you with valuable insight into your chosen field.
Be a Valuable Part of the Team
Though many aspects of a finance career involve working solo, when you have the opportunity, be sure to be a team player as well.
Volunteer for the assignments no one else wants, be supportive of other team members, and step up and lead when necessary. Not only will you be doing the right thing, but your attitude will be noticed – and appreciated.
Set Achievable Goals
Be sure to share your professional goals with your boss. If you want to be a supervisor within a year, find out what you need to obtain that goal. Having your boss support your career path can be extremely helpful and can help you reach your goals a lot faster than you may imagine.
If you’re not completely comfortable with the latest technology, take the time to do so. With finance being one of the early leaders in adopting artificial intelligence and robotic process automation, if you wish to advance in your career, having the right technology skills matters.
Obtaining financial certifications is one of the single most important things you can do to advance your finance career.
What Are the Benefits of Advancing Your Financial Career?
Aside from career satisfaction, there are numerous benefits to advancing your finance career. While some may be obvious, others may be a pleasant surprise.
Earn More Money
Probably the most obvious benefit, and one of the more sought-after benefits, advancing your finance career will certainly increase your salary.
Opens Up More Opportunities
As your career advances, so do your opportunities. Career advancement can open up doors to a new position or bring you to the attention of the company that is looking to hire.
While head hunters may approach you more frequently, you may also be asked to join the board of a nonprofit organization or mentor those new to the finance industry. There may even be an opportunity to teach a class or continuing education class with the skills that you’ve acquired.
Creates a Better Work/Life Balance
It’s no secret that breaking into finance can be difficult. But for those the persevere, the payoff is worth it. Advancing your career can help you better balance your professional life with your personal life by reducing stress levels. Advancing your finance career also provides a level of security not found in entry-level positions.
The Chance to Start Something New
To be a successful financial professional, the more you know, the better. Advancing your finance career can lead to untold career opportunities, providing you with the experience and contacts you need to strike out on your own.
For example, financial professionals that have risen in the ranks, have multiple certifications, and have experience handling multiple tasks are more likely to be successful when opening a financial services firm.
What is One of the Most Important Things that People Need to Do to Advance Their Financial Careers?
Do you know what those letters stand for?
A lot of long-time investors and clients do. They know that a CFP or Certified Financial Planner has demonstrated competency in all areas of financial planning including stocks, bonds, insurance, taxes, and retirement planning. And those letters are important to them.
That’s why obtaining financial certifications is one of the single most important things you can do to advance your finance career.
Even if you come to the table with an MBA, obtaining additional certifications will provide you with credibility. Along with the CFP, if you’re serious about advancing your career, consider obtaining some of these other certifications.
Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) – a CFA demonstrates competence and extensive knowledge in accounting, ethical and professional standards, economics, portfolio management, and security analysis.
Certified Management Accountant (CMA) – The CMA is important for corporate accountants that need to show proficiency in advanced accounting and financial management in areas such as financial planning, analysis, control, and decision-making.
Certified Public Accountant – If your interest is in public accounting, there is no better certification than the CPA. The CPA designation indicates advanced knowledge and competence in auditing and attestation, business environment and concepts, financial accounting and reporting, and regulation.
Certified Fund Specialist (CFS) – A certified fund specialist has demonstrated expertise in mutual funds and the mutual fund industry. Those with a CFS often advise clients on which funds to invest in, and in many cases can buy and sell funds for their clients.
Certified Investment Management Analyst (CIMA) – Those with a CIMA designation focus on asset allocation, risk analysis, investment policy, and performance measurement for their clients. CIMA certification requires continual recertification to continue to hold the designation.
There are numerous other certifications available for financial and accounting professionals. If you’re serious about moving up in your finance career, be sure to check out the Financial Management Association, which offers a list of some of the most in-demand certifications.
Finance is an exciting, global industry that continues to evolve. For those looking for opportunity, choice, and advancement, a career in finance may be your best choice.