Financial Careers

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There are a number of qualities that are often found in finance professionals and may lead to success in financial careers . Financial professionals often deal with complex problems that require well-developed skills and personal characteristics. While skills may be learned both through academic studies and “hands-on” experience, some characteristics may be innate. For some people, the challenges of financial careers will be enjoyable, but others may find themselves struggling to succeed.

  • Attention to detail is important in all types of financial careers. For example, accountants must understand the nature of each transaction in order to correctly record the information so that it provides a true picture of the success or failure of a business.
  • In the same way, an auditor, who reviews the books of a company, must pay attention to detail to assure investors or others, who rely on the financial statements, that they present fairly the status of the business. Financial advisors and insurance agents must understand the needs and resources of their clients as they provide advice.

Good oral and written communication skills are needed for financial professionals as well. Financial advisors or financial planners need to listen carefully to their clients, understand their needs, and then present clearly a plan of action to help their clients achieve their goals. Investment bankers often must present information to executives and to brokers in order to help their clients raise capital. Loan officers and mortgage bankers need to be able to communicate clearly with potential borrowers in order to effectively present the loan product they are offering.

  • Many people think that accounting or other financial careers are mostly about numbers. This isn’t entirely true. It is important to have both good computing and mathematical skills, but much of the adding and subtracting that used to be done by hand is now done on computers. Good computing skills may involve more than just knowing how to use spreadsheets. Financial professionals may also need to write reports or prepare presentations. For example, a corporate accountant may be asked to provide an analysis about a major expenditure and its effect on net income.

In a highly competitive environment like that which job-seekers face today, self-motivation may be the key element that helps a financial professional to succeed. Employers look for people who will work effectively and efficiently to get the job done. So what is self-motivation? It means that someone will take responsibility for getting their work done well and without constant supervision. It may mean staying late to finish a project, even when not being compensated for overtime.

Persistence is required in financial careers.

  • For example, both financial advisors and insurance agents may have to overcome a number of objections in order to convince a client to purchase their services or a product. In the corporate world, persistence is required in order to complete assignments and advance in a career.

Many companies have down-sized their work-force, and employees today are being asked to do more with fewer people than before. Few financial careers allow an individual to work on a single task for a prolonged period of time. Multi-tasking is often required. For example, an auditor may be working on several clients at the same time. In many banks, loan officers may have additional responsibilities, including customer service and establishing new accounts.

All these qualities describe the characteristics of a person who is likely to succeed as a finance professional. One way to summarize this would be to describe the person as a good problem-solver. Problem-solvers persist until they find a solution and pay attention to detail as they seek the solution. They are analytical and able to effectively handle computing and mathematical tasks. They can work on more than one project at once, multi-tasking but not getting overwhelmed by the job. Both during the problem-solving stage and after, they bring good communication skills to the job. Good problem-solvers are also self-motivated. They enjoy the challenge and take responsibility for their work.

Finance Career Options

Qualities of a Good Finance Professional

People who are interested in financial careers have a broad spectrum of potential areas to consider. Jobs are available in the private sector as well as in various government agencies. Often a specific degree qualifies a person for employment in a number of different fields.

Accountants may work in corporations in fields like general accounting, property accounting, tax accounting, payables, or receivables. They may also become Certified Public Accountants (CPAs) and act as auditors, tax preparers, or consultants. Some accountants work for local, state, or federal government agencies, including the Internal Revenue Service.

Banking careers may involve:

  • Customer service
  • Accounting
  • Reviewing and approving loans
  • Reviewing and approving credit applications
  • Providing payroll accounting services
  • Managing corporate accounts

Investment bankers consult with large corporate clients to help them raise funds. Sometimes this is done by arranging a merger, other times by the issuing and sale of stock. These stock sales are not small blocks, but large offerings that often are sold to other institutions or through brokerage firms.

    Finance Career Options
  • The mortgage market provides another area for financial professionals. Mortgage bankers originate mortgage loans for individuals and companies. Often mortgage bankers don’t retain ownership of the mortgages they originate, but rather sell them to investors. The banker then retains the origination fee and uses the capital from the sale to the investor to originate another mortgage.
  • Credit counselors assist people who want to find ways to manage their finances and perhaps to overcome extensive debt problems. These companies often have arrangements with the credit card issuers to lower interest rates and monthly payments so that the debtor may pay off the debt, usually within about four years.
  • Financial advisors, unless they are fee-based only, generally sell investment products to clients. As part of the process, they discuss the needs and goals of the client and then produce a plan to assist the client to reach a goal like the education of a child or retirement. As part of the plan, they propose products like mutual funds for the client to purchase.
  • Portfolio managers make the investment decisions concerning a mutual fund including implementing the strategy, buying and selling stock on a daily basis, and managing its assets. Portfolio managers usually work for large brokerage firms.
  • Somewhat like financial advisors, insurance agents evaluate the needs of their clients and propose various insurance products to meet those needs. Some types include life, property, and health insurance. Business interruption insurance is also available, as well as liability. Many different types of insurance products are on the market today.

Last Updated: 07/28/2014

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