Do you love to talk with people and get really excited at the idea of helping make their dreams come true? Have you always had entrepreneurial drive? Even if you didn’t thrive on doing math in school, you may be surprised to hear that a financial services career could be right for you.
Recruits with strong communication skills, a broad understanding of business and a willingness to work hard are in high demand with a variety of financial services firms today, according to Careers-In-Finance.com.
2005 looks to be a growth year for insurance and investment banking companies who are planning to recruit more heavily on campuses across the nation based on a study conducted by the Collegiate Employee Research Institute at Michigan State University. Financial firms, hungry to tap the growing minority market, are also beefing up their diversity programs and recruitment of people of color and women.
Career options abound in the world of finance so you’ll want to explore various industries such as banking, insurance, brokerage/investing and accounting where you’ll find a multitude of jobs from auditors and tax preparers to bank tellers or investment brokers.
Reasons for getting into financial services are as varied as the individual. Andrew Haning, senior broker at R.J. O’Brien in Chicago, finds that his work in the futures market is a natural way to combine his interest in finance with his family’s background in farming.
Working in the investment industry takes assertiveness and the ability to hear ‘no’ a lot, says Haning. “But if you have confidence and self-discipline you can do really well in this field.”
For Bradley Ernst, a financial representative with the Northwestern Mutual Financial Network, one of the greatest benefits of his career is the opportunity to help clients gain a better understanding of financial tools to plan a more secure future.
“Making a positive impact on people’s lives, being my own boss and having great income potential are the factors that make this the perfect job for me,” Ernst says. But you have to be willing to work hard and understand that networking skills are crucial in this field, he adds.
One great way to find out which career is right for you is to do an internship while still in school. Ernst interned for two years at Northwestern Mutual before deciding that the personal advisor lifestyle was for him.
Work hours and lifestyle in financial services can vary based upon whether your career goals take you to a small community bank or a leading Wall Street firm. Generally, you might find yourself putting in a 40-60 hour week unless you are in the intensely-competitive investment environment where 120 hour weeks are not unusual in return for higher financial rewards.
To get that first job, you’ll need at least a bachelor’s degree. But because each industry has its own requirements and body of knowledge, you may need more advanced degrees, certifications and licenses. For example, Ernst majored in accounting and business with a minor in pre-law, earned his Life Health Annuity license while in school, his Series 6 license during his first year of work and is currently working on his Certified Life Underwriter designation. Haning studied sociology and later earned his Series 3 broker license.
Technology also continues to remake the financial services industry. The Internet has changed the way firms do business from online trading to bank deposits. Experts say some of the greatest demand in the industry is in information technology. So you might want to skip that pottery class during your last semester and take an Internet course instead.
If your mantra is ‘show me the money,’ there’s plenty of growth opportunity in financial services. Depending on your job and where you live, you can earn anywhere from $15 an hour to well over $70 an hour, according to the U.S Bureau of Labor. But it’s predicted that the fastest job growth over the next decade will occur for accountants in tax and healthcare fields, as well as for personal financial advisors who will be needed to counsel the growing number of baby-boomers heading into retirement.
No matter where you go in financial services, one thing is clear. The stereotypical picture of finance professionals as “bean counters” has changed. Technology means the computers count the beans. As Roberto Goizueta, the late CEO of Coca-Cola once said, “The secret isn’t counting the beans. It’s growing more beans.” That means that the demand for smart, articulate and thoughtful people in finance positions will increase even more in the future.
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