How do you win at a finance career?

Global Accounting Network
Global Accounting Network
Global Accounting Network
How do you win at a finance career?

There are many reasons to pursue a career in finance. 

Finance professionals are valuable team members in most companies. Thanks to the versatility of the industry and the range of skills on offer, many go on to fulfil senior management roles in a range of sectors. It’s also a dynamic profession with new possibilities around every corner. 

The best news? Finance professionals are always in demand.

According to research from the McKinsey Global Institute, accounting is among the 15 fastest-growing occupations in Europe. The finance sector as a whole is set to account for 400,000 new jobs in the region by 2030. 

The result is a world of opportunity for those who know how to start climbing the career ladder. 

How do you prepare for a career in finance?

Many students make the mistake of waiting to start their first jobs before thinking about ways to prepare for their long-term career goals. While you may not be able to work full-time in finance while you’re studying, there’s plenty you can do to set yourself apart from the rest of your cohort. 

Choosing the right degree 

This one seems obvious, but it’s a good idea to research the career path you’re considering and choose a qualification that puts you on the right track. 

Beginning with higher education, an undergraduate degree in finance is not necessarily the first step. While it’s true that such qualifications will help to secure a finance role, approaching this stage with a broader outlook can be beneficial. As most people beginning their finance career will start at an entry-level, the majority of their knowledge will be learned ‘on the job’. 

With student debt at its highest level, many will consider alternatives to a university education. The AAT qualification is a well recognised NVQ which provides a great basic understanding of finance, in line with typical entry-level finance jobs. You can often be employed and gain practical experience while studying. Upon completion of the AAT, it is common to move on to study one of the chartered qualifications.

Chartered accreditation (most commonly ACA, CA, ACCA or CIMA) is often considered an essential qualification when it comes to senior and higher-paying financial roles, and particularly for positions within the more established FTSE100 companies. It demonstrates a certain level of competency and dedication to future employees that recruiters specifically seek out. Chartered accreditation involves a series of exams, as well as a period of relevant work experience. Once accredited, individuals must follow ethical guidelines set out by the awarding body.

Those looking to further advance their careers may find it worthwhile to complete a Master’s in Finance or an MBA. This opens the door to senior management positions and can be a valuable stepping stone as your career progresses. 

One of the benefits of the financial space is the transferable skills you gain, making it a versatile industry to work in. Interpersonal skills acquired during your studies include both professional and personal ethics, problem-solving, the ability to analyse results, and working with others to find solutions to complex problems. 

The value of experience

It’s a good idea to gain experience as early as possible. A great way to do this is through internships. 

Not only will you gather valuable real-world experience, but you will also gain access to one of the most important things in the financial world: a network. Building strong relationships with other players in the finance industry plays a key role in your long-term career growth. 

An internship is also a great way to practice your hard-earned skills in the work environment and see if a career in finance is what you ultimately want to pursue.

Staying on top of your game

Staying relevant in the financial industry is an ongoing challenge. Even after you’ve landed your dream job, you need to focus on staying ahead of the curve. 

Increased use of tech and new ways of thinking about finance, with a trend toward analytics tools such as Power BI, Tableau and Alteryx – coupled with intense competition for market share – make it crucial for those starting out to equip themselves for long-term success. 

This means a sustained focus on training and education, with an emphasis on diversifying your skillset. While you may be the best accountant in your firm, it’ll be worthless if new systems and processes are brought on board and you’re not able to keep up. Advanced degrees and certifications also give you an edge in the business world, as does joining professional associations. 

We believe that the best careers are those born out of mutual respect and understanding. That’s why we work with our qualified finance, accounting, and finance transformation candidates to develop careers that match their long-term goals. 

Contact us today to get started on your career path.

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How do you win at a finance career?
Date: 26 November 2021
Author: Adrian O'Connor