A financial career can be very rewarding. If you have a head for numbers and a passion for financial planning, the financial sector might be the perfect fit. However, there are some things you should know about a career in finance before deciding to pursue it. In this article, we’ll discuss the benefits and drawbacks of a career in finance, the most popular and lucrative jobs, and more.
What Are the Benefits of a Career in 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. And that’s just the median salary; many managers earn much more than that. It’s important to note that the base salary can be misleading. Finance careers offer bonuses, and they can range upwards of hundreds of thousands to millions.
Careers in finance also offer a high degree of job security. It’s important to note that large institutions get rid of the bottom third performers (give or take) year to year. There is a lot of volatility and uncertainty in many of these positions.
Finance is an essential industry, and there will always be a need for qualified financial professionals. Even during economic downturns, companies still need financial managers to help them navigate difficult waters.
Finally, a finance job can provide a great deal of upward mobility. If you start out as a financial analyst and do your job well, there’s no reason you couldn’t eventually become a vice president or even the chief financial officer (CFO) of your company. And if you’re self-employed and the owner of the business, the sky’s the limit regarding how much money you can earn.
Related: How To Achieve Meaningful Career Advancement
What Are the Drawbacks of a Career in Finance?
Of course, no career is perfect, and there are some drawbacks to working in finance. First of all, financial jobs can be quite stressful. If you’re working as a financial analyst or manager, you’re responsible for making critical decisions that could have a major impact on your company’s bottom line. That kind of pressure can be tough to handle day in and day out.
Another downside is that finance can be quite time-consuming. You may have little time left over for your personal life when you’re working long hours crunching numbers and preparing reports. It’s crucial to maintain a healthy work-life balance if you choose that kind of career path.
It’s worth noting that the world of finance is always changing. You must always keep up with the latest changes in tax codes and regulations so you can advise your clients accordingly. You also have to stay prepared for sudden economic downturns; they happen from time to time, and they can have serious implications for businesses and individuals alike.
8 Essential Skills for a Career in Finance
If you’re thinking of a career in finance, understand that you’ll need various skills and talents to succeed. Key skills include strong math abilities, attention to detail, and money management. You’ll also need good problem-solving and communication skills. Here are eight of the most crucial skills for thriving in the financial sector.
1. Mathematical Ability
A successful career in finance requires strong math skills. You’ll need to be able to understand and work with complex financial data, including 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.
2. Analytical Thinking
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 aren’t naturally analytical can improve their skills by taking courses, working with mentors, and practicing on their own time.
3. Attention to Detail
Attention to detail is critical in finance because a minor mistake can have a huge financial impact. For example, mistakenly entering the wrong number into a spreadsheet could lead to an incorrect financial statement.
This could lead to personal financial investors or creditors being misled about the company’s financial health, which could potentially cause them to lose money. Being precise and accurate when working with numbers is non-negotiable for this career path.
4. Business Acumen
Having strong business acumen means understanding the inner workings of a company as well as how financial decisions can impact the overall success or failure of a business. Those with strong business acumen can make intelligent financial decisions that help a company grow and succeed over time.
A few ways to develop your business acumen include:
- Taking business courses
- Working with a mentor in the finance industry
- Gaining experience through internships or jobs in finance
5. Financial Awareness
Working in finance is a lucrative career path, but it requires you to be aware of the financial market and how it works. It’s also essential to stay well-informed about current events and trends in the financial world so you don’t fall behind.
Finance is a complex field, and there is a lot at stake for those who work in it. It’s too easy to make costly mistakes that impact your career when you don’t understand the basics.
6. Financial Modeling
Financial modeling is the process of building a mathematical model of a financial situation. This could be anything from the projected performance of a company over a period of time, to the likely outcome of a proposed investment. Financial models are used by investors, bankers, and other finance professionals to help them make informed decisions about where to allocate their money.
If you want to work in finance, it’s essential that you know how to build these models. Software programs can simplify the process, but you need a good understanding of basic accounting and financial concepts. That way, you can create accurate models that help you and your peers make major decisions.
7. Profit and Loss Analysis
It’s difficult to overstate the importance of knowing how to conduct a profit and loss analysis in the world of finance. A profit and loss (P&L) statement shows you whether a company is making a profit or a loss, and how much money it’s making or losing.
This information is crucial for making informed decisions about things like whether to invest in a company or not. Analyzing P&L statements can also help you identify areas where a company could save money if it needs to make cuts.
Since finance is a constantly evolving field, you must be able to communicate effectively to keep up with the changes and stay ahead of the competition. Good communication skills will help you grasp complex concepts, explain financial analysis to clients, and negotiate deals. They’re also essential for networking and building relationships with colleagues and clients.
Related: 12 Effective Ways to Build Entrepreneurial Skills That Matter
What Are the Most Popular and Lucrative Jobs in Finance?
Finance is a vast field with many different job opportunities. Some positions are more popular or lucrative than others, but there’s a job in finance for anyone with a knack for numbers. Here are some of the most common:
- Investment Bankers primarily help companies and governments raise money by issuing and selling securities.
- Financial Analysts provide guidance to businesses and individuals making investment decisions; they often assess the performance of stock market investments, real estate, bonds, and other investments.
- Chief Financial Officers (CFOs) head their finance departments and are responsible for the overall financial health of their organizations. Typical duties include producing financial reports, developing strategies to increase cash flow, and ensuring compliance with financial regulations.
- Certified Financial Planners (CFPs) help individuals and families save for retirement, education, and other long-term goals, as well as provide advice on investment strategies, insurance, and tax planning.
- Personal Finance Advisors do precisely what it sounds like — provide advice on how to manage personal finances. Personal financial advisors help individuals with budgeting, saving, investing, and other financial goals.
- Commercial Bankers work for commercial banks and provide financial services (e.g, loans, lines of credit, etc.) to businesses.
- Investment Managers are portfolio managers for individuals, families, and financial institutions; they make decisions on where to invest money and implement financial risk management techniques.
- Certified Public Accountants (CPAs) prepare tax returns and advise individuals and businesses on tax planning, ensuring compliance with tax laws and regulations.
These jobs only scratch the surface of the finance sector. There are many other options for those who love working with numbers and want to pursue a lucrative career.
How Do You Get Started in Finance?
To get started in finance, you must first determine which area of finance is the best fit for you. The three main areas of finance are corporate finance, investment banking, and financial planning. Each of these areas typically requires a business administration or finance degree for entry. Earning a bachelor’s degree in finance, accounting, or a related field can help you lay a firm foundation for your future work experiences.
Once you’ve earned a degree, you can begin building your skillset by working internships or entry-level jobs in the field. A bachelor’s degree can open the door to many entry-level positions. But some jobs, such as investment banking, may require a master’s degree or professional certification.
Wrapping It Up
So, is a career in finance right for you? Only you can answer that question. But if you’re interested in pursuing a career in this promising field, remember to weigh the pros and cons carefully before making any decisions, start honing your skills, and do your research when it’s time to find your first job in finance.