The financial sector is one of the most lucrative and diverse career sectors, which is why many people decide to build careers in finance. Working in finance can range from working as an accountant for a small business to being director of financial operations for a multinational investment bank.
A career in the financial sector appeals to many people because it usually guarantees an excellent salary in a very secure environment. Although we do sometimes hear of major banking collapses that result in many job losses, overall, people who work in finance are guaranteed work.
Another advantage of working in finance is that businesses are always seeking the best employees. Individuals who specialize in specific areas of finance can demand much higher salaries. Finance is one of the few areas where people are still â€œhead huntedâ€ by recruitment firms; it is common for the most experienced and successful financial managers to move from one company to another for a better benefits package.
Without doubt, investment management is one of the most popular areas. The investment industry is huge and employs hundreds of thousands of people and although most jobs are within the major financial centers of the world, there are many opportunities within smaller, local investment companies.
Investment management involves the active administration of an individual's or companyâ€™s assets, usually in the form of shares, bonds, and cash, although it can also include property, art, and business.
Investment management covers many types of work; it includes personal finance, private client fund, portfolio, and corporate investment management. Both individuals and large companies need to have their investments well managed to maximize capital gains and income.
Larger companies offer a wider range of career opportunities than smaller firms do, and many people leaving college can easily find work in companies such as Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, and JPMorgan Chase. However, although it is much easier to obtain a role in larger companies, it is also much harder to climb the corporate ladder.
For those who are eager to develop a successful career in which they will have opportunities to become key players within the business, the better option is often smaller investment management firms. Many people have success by taking this route and the most intelligent and skilled staff are more often promoted to management.
One downside of working in the front line of investment management is that the work is often heavily focused on growing client assets, and this can result in a stressful environment, especially when the global markets are performing badly.
Commercial banking is often the first consideration when deciding on a career in finance. Commercial banks provide most people with their first experiences of banking and investment.
Working in a commercial bank usually involves the most direct client-facing work in any area of the finance sector. Career opportunities exist in work as bank tellers, mortgage and loan officers, business banking, marketing, and branch managers.
For many people, the biggest advantage of commercial banking is that it provides opportunities in almost every town and allows people to work close to where they live and thus avoid lengthy commutes or relocation to a major financial center.
For every investment management team there is an investment administration team. Such teams are often referred to as the â€œback officeâ€ because rather than acting in a client-facing role, they support investment managers, dealers, and client service representatives.
Large investment banks employ thousands of people in administration to cover roles, including fund pricing and accounts, trade matching and settlement, dividend collections, and corporate actions. All of these roles offer the opportunity to rise to floor management and director level.
Although the salaries will never be as high as they are in investment management, the career prospects are very good and because the work is not geared so much to profits the work is less stressful.
Corporate finance has many similarities with investment management but instead of managing client funds, a corporate finance officer is concerned with the companyâ€™s financial health.
This can involve managing the company shareholdings but more often involves finding and managing capital investment to help the business grow.
Corporate finance also involves managing the companyâ€™s financial strategy, and preparing accounts and statements, including compiling financial data for annual reports and working with auditors. Corporate finance is a challenging and rewarding career and many people working within corporate finance feel more in tune with their employers than those who work in investment management.
Whichever area of finance an individual chooses, many different career paths are available once they have the proverbial foot in the door. The finance sector can provide good job security, excellent pay, and other benefits.