Careers in Finance – Finance industry has witnessed exponential growth in the past two decades and a number of specialized fields have appeared within the broader domain of finance. This has also led to mushrooming of a number of new career roles aimed at providing certain specialized services to individuals or institutional clients.
Today, Investment Banking, Risk Management, Investment Management, Commercial Banking, Equity Research and a number of other areas of special interest in finance require people with expert knowledge and a certain skill set to fill in the shoes. This trend of continuing focus on expertise in specific functional areas of finance has made it that much more difficult to make a choice of career in Finance. Here we would attempt to provide an overview of some of the most popular career roles in finance and what it takes to be successful at them.
Top Careers in Finance
#1 – Investment Banking
Investment bankers usually facilitate brokering of major transactions for large institutional clients including Mergers & Acquisitions (M&As), underwriting for equities or debt securities to raise major capital and corporate restructuring among other things. It is one of the most preferred career choices in finance for the kind of recognition accorded and rewards earned in terms of big pay packages and bonuses. It is an intensely competitive field requiring a combination of financial expertise, excellent negotiation skills and a high level of confidence.
Most of the large investment banks prefer to hire top MBAs with the desired skill set. With 75 to 100 work hours a week, it is considered among the poorer choices in terms of work-life balance. However, working with a large firm in one of the financial hubs including New York or London, remuneration and growth prospects would easily be among the best.
#2 – Asset Management
Asset managers help manage the wealth of High Net-Worth Individuals (HNIs) and institutional clients. They identify suitable avenues of investment for their clients to help realize their wealth creation goals and develop and implement long-term investment strategies to achieve the same. Perks are among the best in the industry as the demand for skilled asset managers continue to rise and work hours are much better, making possible a good work-life balance. Professionals with CFA (Chartered Financial Analyst) or CIMA (Certified Investment Management Analyst) could be best fit for the role.
#3 – Commercial Banking
This career in Finance i.e. Commercial banks offer a host of retail banking services to businesses as well as individuals including checking and savings accounts, issue debit or credit cards along with a line of credit depending on the creditworthiness of the client. Some of the most popular roles in commercial banking sector include loan officer, trust officer, mortgage banker, bank teller and branch manager among others. Usually, different skill sets might be required in keeping with the nature of the specific role. Growth prospects are good in commercial banking with moderately good to decent pay packages for professionals in higher or more technical positions. Work hours are usually among the best, especially with public sector banks.
#4 – Equity Research
Equity research basically involves the comprehensive analysis of stocks including financial modeling and valuation to help decide the worth of a certain investment. The work of an equity research analyst helps individuals, as well as institutional investors, make critical investment decisions. This is one of the most valued career roles in finance which requires insightful knowledge of financial concepts, a good amount of patience and high level of ethics to be able to carry out professional responsibilities as desired. Perks are undoubtedly among the best and work hours are good enough to maintain a healthy work-life balance.
#5 – Corporate Finance
This career in Finance is primarily concerned with the management of all financial activities of a company. This is much broader in scope than investment banking, which represents only a sub-domain of corporate finance. It not only deals with raising major capital through M&As but also actively engages with every form of decision making related to investment, capital management and other activities which help maximize the strategic growth of an organisation. Corporate finance professionals could have widely differing work roles and hence the required skills sets would also vary. Some of the common openings include financial analyst, tax manager, treasurer and chief financial officer (CFO) among others. CPA (Chartered Public Accountant) could be a useful designation for accounting-related roles and CFA (Chartered Financial Analyst) could be of advantage for aspiring financial analysts.
#6 – Risk Management
This career in Finance has emerged as one of the key areas of interest which involve identifying and managing different forms of financial risks. A risk management professional could be engaged in broad-based financial risk analysis in different scenarios or could be working on financial risk modeling, predictive financial analysis and other technical aspects of financial risk management. The remuneration is among the industry’s best and work hours are usually decent. FRM (Financial Risk Manager) and PRM (Professional Risk Manager) are two of the definitive financial risk management certifications which could be of great advantage to risk management professionals.
It would be wise to chalk out a career plan before opting for any of financial certifications like CFA, FRM, PRM etc. Depending on the academics and professionals work experience, a suitable Career in Finance can be chosen to acquire or enhance a certain skill set for a specialized role to build a great career in finance. It is always best to plan and prepare for a more specialized career role which can potentially lead to higher career growth. However, the choice should be based on a balancing of relevant factors to be able to successfully align one’s skill set, areas of professional interest and career goals.
This has been a guide to Careers in Finance. You may also have a look at these detailed financial articles for further clarity –
- FRM Exam
- FRM vs Actuary – Which is Better?
- PRM Exam
- Best Corporate Finance Books
- Career Beyond Investment Banking & Equity Research