Finance Careers – What do they involve, and are they worth it?
People who work in Finance can be seen as one of two: either prestigious, or as an evil corporate man. However, this is hardly an accurate way of representing those who have followed a career in Finance.
I asked Chairman of UK Finance, legendary Robert Wigley FCA, “Are people who work in finance fundamental for society? Do they do more good, or more bad?”
Although he did not reply himself, he provided me with a speech done by CEO of UK Finance, Stephen Jones, and here is what he said:
“I believe that the value which the UK financial services sector delivers for the whole of the UK should be clear. This is an industry which provides the finance SMEs need to grow, with £58 billion in gross lending last year and eight in ten loan applications approved. (…) Which helps families to buy their own homes with £1.2 trillion in mortgage lending to home owners, and helps those whose finances may not be well organised to manage their money day-to-day with some eight million basic bank accounts.
All the while protecting customers from fraud by stopping £2 in every £3 of attempted fraud or around £1.7bn in 2018. (…) Which employs 430,000 people across Britain, contributing over £36 billion in taxes to the UK public finances in 2017/18 and exporting almost £60 billion in financial services. (…) Which has created a globally competitive financial centre – with 79 IPOs listing in London last year raising £9.5bn.”
It is clear from this data that the financial services industry is a prominent sector of the UK economy, and helps the well-functioning of the overall system.
Finance is at the core of every society, alongside Economics and Politics, and a variety of other subjects. It is, therefore, crucial. The prospects for those who work in finance are surely promising with lots of benefits; they tend to earn 6-figure salaries and big bonuses alongside superb packages.
Out of the Top 10 highest paying jobs in the UK, 30% of them are in Finance; and, out of the Top 25 highest paying companies in the UK, 12 of them (or 48%) are within the Financial Sector. The FCA itself encourages businesses to remunerate employees well in order to attract and retain high quality staff.
There are many careers in Finance a person can opt for:
The list is pretty much endless, and with the position comes a certain prestige in society. People typically respect those in Finance due to their knowledge and professionalism, it is a title that commands a lot of power, although there are several individuals that are strongly opposed to them due to the wealth amassed by those in the sector.
In order to work in Finance, an individual must be highly qualified, and this poses a problem. Those that come from lower-income backgrounds do not have the same education support as those from higher-income families, and therefore would face barriers in becoming qualified.
Just to acquire “approved person” status as a Financial Advisor by the FCA, a person must either get a specific degree, obtain a Diploma from one of three institutes, or do an apprenticeship. The process is not short or straightforward, and not everyone sticks to it.
Furthermore, all individuals in finance should have the following skills in order to succeed:
Financial Analysis: including financial modelling, economic research and assessment, understanding of financial terms and market jargon
Mathematical: from problem-solving, to logical reasoning, to advanced algebra, maths is one of the core skills to have in Finance;
Client Relationship Management (a.k.a. CRM): including interpersonal, empathy, communication, and ability to foster rapport;
Information Technology (a.k.a. IT): including Python programming, Spreadsheet and PowerPoint software, and working with investment and accounting software.
And of course, these are just foundational skills. If you want to progress into higher positions in a firm, developing Business Management and Administration skills, as well as continuing your learning is a necessity – through Continuous Professional Development (a.k.a. CPD), which is mandatory for Finance Professionals: 35 hours per year, of which 21 hours must be structured.
Besides, finance careers usually take up a lot of your time. As the work-life balance is not always the best, and with 16 hours a day working hours, or 80 hours a week – without exaggeration – finance careers are not for every individual out there. They are hardworking and require a lot of compliance with multiple regulations and codes of practice and ethics.
The way the financial system is currently structured, it is harder than ever before to be a part of this world – as you need to truly dedicate yourself to knowing legislation, finance, and economics.
It is for these reasons that a person might opt for an alternative career to finance. There are many high paying jobs that are not finance related, with examples including:
Aircraft Pilots and Air Traffic Controllers
Surgeons and Medical Practitioners
Solicitors, Barristers and Judges
Senior Officers in Armed Forces
Marketing and Sales Managers
And of course, entrepreneur. Although the risk there is higher than the average career.
To conclude, I believe it is important to talk about Financial Institutes. I cover Institutes in detail in this week’s premium article, so make sure you subscribe to our membership to get access to it!
An Institute, such as the one I am personally affiliated to: the Chartered Institute for Securities and Investment, can prove to be the starting point to a well-built career in Finance, and a straightforward stepping stone ladder in your progression. Make sure you check out the CISI website on the link below:
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