Of all the fields of employment, finance is probably the one that is least understood.
The sheer volume of conflicting information over working in finance is phenomenal; you’d be forgiven for thinking that finance essentially boils down to an elite group of scrupulous bankers, raised from birth to inhabit an inner circle of ephemeral money-spinners, spending their days barking orders down a phone at luckless investors. Unfortunately, this misreading of the financial world only serves to put off otherwise talented graduates from applying to positions in finance in which they might otherwise thrive, making the profession seem even more daunting and elitist.
Luckily, though, there are plenty of opportunities for talented and ambitious graduates from all walks of life to succeed in finance, even if they might not, at face- value, seem to fit the typical mould. If you do decide that you wish to pursue a career in finance, here are a series of steps to help you achieve that dream.
Research the different careers:
Most people think of investment banking when they hear finance, and, whilst this is a (vital) component of the field, finance incorporates a huge range of careers, requiring a great breadth of different skills. Finance is certainly not a one- size- fits- all field. Actuaries are required to use their keen analytical skills to assess risks, accountants use complex mathematical algorithms to analyse and record cryptic financial documents, and retail bankers need acute interpersonal skills to advise people on how to manage their money. And that’s not even taking into account the departments that hold everything together, such as Infrastructure and Human Resources!
Build up your skills:
Regardless of which career you pursue, competition will usually be fierce. Anything that you can do which exhibits skills in analysis, mathematics, risk management or leadership would go far in differentiating yourself from the crowd. Most finance companies will ask for good grades (for example, a 2:1) and excellent interpersonal skills.
Apply for internships:
Internships are an invaluable boon when beginning a career in finance. Not only will they give you essential experience in your chosen profession, helping you decide which area of finance is your specialty, but they may also result in a professional qualification or even a job offer. Internships work both ways, giving you a feel for a certain corporation, and giving them the opportunity to examine your work style to see if you would be a good fit for the company. Many are based in London, being the financial hub of the United Kingdom, but there are internships in finance all over the country. Many of them are even paid!
Search for Placements:
Placements are much the same as internships, though they tend to be longer and are more rigidly structured. They also usually offer a fixed salary and contract, while internships are tend to be more flexible. Just as with internships, they can be found all over the UK, and in the full expanse of financial careers.
Establishing yourself in finance can seem like an uphill battle, but the rewards are well worth it. Once you’ve made your way through the fierce competition, you can expect to enjoy a good graduate salary (consistently ranked as some of the best starting graduate salaries of any field), and many opportunities to advance in your chosen career.
For more information on Business & Finance, click here.