Why Pursue A Career In Finance?

7 min read

Education & Career Trends: January 4, 2024

Curated by the Knowledge Team of ICS Career GPS

Cutting-edge developments at the intersection of finance and tech (fintech) allow finance professionals to stay up-to-date in an evolving field.

  • Excerpts are taken from an article published on forbes.com.

Individuals with analytical minds and strong attention to detail make good candidates for in-demand careers in finance. This field offers many roles beyond trading on the stock exchange floor, though many positions still include financial forecasting and investments for businesses and clients.

As the finance and tech worlds overlap more, professionals in these sectors can maximise returns on investments for individuals and organisations.

The Benefits of Working in Finance

Finance degree jobs can provide stability, opportunities for advancement and consistent demand projections. Careers in finance may also offer flexibility for employees by allowing them to work remotely or in hybrid environments.

Cutting-edge developments at the intersection of finance and tech (fintech) allow finance professionals to stay up-to-date in an evolving field. The need for knowledgeable workers to assess investment opportunities will continue to drive demand for careers in finance.

Finance professionals can also pursue advanced roles in the field. With more education, experience or certification in specific areas of finance, professionals can work in finance degree jobs as portfolio managers, chief financial executives and senior financial analysts.

Careers in Finance

1. Corporate Financial Analyst

Job Description: Many corporations employ Finance professionals for a variety of roles. Three of the more common positions include FP&A (Financial Planning & Analysis) analysts, treasury analysts, and business development analysts.

FP&A analysts prepare and assess annual budgets and other reports of financial performance. The analysis conducted helps support the decision-making process of executives and senior leadership of the company. FP&A Analysts often identify key drivers impacting profitability and may propose recommendations to address financial performance issues.

Treasury analysts assist with analyses of cash flows and financial risk. This position will assess the company’s short-term and long-term cash needs and devise cash management strategies that can optimise the use of cash. Treasury analysts may also be responsible for managing the various banking relationships entered into by a corporation and assisting with tracking and reporting the issuance of corporate stock.

Business development analysts support the financial analysis of new business opportunities, such as potential mergers or new acquisitions.

Many corporate finance roles work hand-in-hand, all to support the financial success of the corporation. Demonstrated achievement in a variety of corporate finance roles could ultimately lead to a position as a chief financial officer (CFO) of a corporation.

2. Investment Banking Analyst

Job Description: These analysts evaluate financial data for individuals and businesses. They research trends in the economy and business, assess financial statements and make investment recommendations to maximise profits.

Investment banking analysts typically work as either buy-side analysts or sell-side analysts. Buy-side analysts help companies acquire investments through mutual funds, pensions and hedge funds to receive a return. They assess each client’s investment selection, known as a portfolio, based on the client’s long-term plans and goals.

Sell-side analysts research stocks and investments within specific sectors to create financial forecasts for potential investors. They communicate with industry stakeholders to craft investment projections, which financial professionals often aggregate into a consensus estimate.

Other finance degree jobs under the financial analyst umbrella include fund manager, portfolio manager, securities analyst and financial risk specialist.

3. Financial Analyst (Commercial Banking / Insurance)

Job Description: Many commercial banks employ individuals with a finance background for a variety of roles in banking and insurance. Commercial banks offer financial instruments, such as savings deposits and loans, to their customers. Bankers keep close tabs on the interest rate and monetary policies set by the central bank, and they adjust their strategies and product offerings to best meet customer needs and ensure the financial success of the bank.

Other common finance positions in commercial banking include credit analysts, mortgage underwriters, risk management analysts, and compliance analysts.

Credit analysts assess the creditworthiness and financial stability of individuals or entities seeking a loan. Mortgage underwriters assess applications for home mortgages to confirm the financial stability of the customer and that they meet the necessary application requirements.

Risk management analysts evaluate the overall solvency or liquidity of the bank, ensuring that bank operations are conducted within a defined risk appetite.

Compliance analysts assist with transactional monitoring and assessments of compliance controls to ensure banking activities are performed in line with regulatory requirements.

Similar positions (underwriting, risk management analysts, etc.) are also available at insurance companies.

4. Personal Financial Planner or Advisor

Job Description: Personal financial planners meet with individuals and families to provide financial services and assess financial goals. These professionals offer guidance regarding taxes, estate planning, investments, mortgages and other monetary concerns.

Families seek assistance from these professionals amid significant life events such as retirement, marriage and pursuing higher education. Financial planners help individuals assess the risk associated with investments to meet short-term and long-term goals. Clients receive suggestions to maximize returns. Financial planners may make investments for clients through stocks, bonds and annuities.

Financial planners also advise clients on filing taxes, buying insurance and personal budgeting. These professionals oversee individuals’ accounts to understand if they are on track to meet financial goals and provide suggestions for changes when necessary.

5. Financial Examiner

Job Description: Financial examiners keep an eye on banks and financial institutions to ensure that customers and borrowers remain protected from unexpected losses and predatory lending tactics. As one of the most in-demand careers in finance, these professionals typically work in either consumer compliance or risk assessment.

Financial examiners assure customers that their lenders are held to high standards in consumer compliance. This keeps institutions from offering loans with unreasonably high-interest rates that borrowers cannot repay. These professionals also oversee lending practices to restrict banks from discrimination based on ethnicity, race, sex and disability.

Examiners working in risk assessment review banks and institutions’ income and expenses to secure stability across the entire financial system. They also create and present reports about financial institutions’ overall fiscal health.

6. Financial Auditor

Job Description: Financial auditors evaluate organisations’ financial information and accounting processes to validate the accuracy of information, conformance to policies and other reporting requirements. Financial auditors assure the audit committee of the adequacy of the organisation’s internal control activities within key financial and accounting processes. Two common job roles that employ financial auditors include internal auditors and external auditors.

Internal auditors can be employed by companies, nonprofits, and the government. Often, internal auditors with a finance background are sought to assist with audits of key financial processes, such as payroll, accounts payable and procurement cycles. These professionals conduct assessments of company processes to identify any deficiencies in the internal controls that would prevent or detect fraud, errors or other issues. Audit findings are presented to management and the board, and should be tracked to ensure appropriate corrective actions are taken.

External auditors are employed by public accounting firms to conduct financial statement audits. They report their opinion or analyses to the audit committee, and sometimes to regulators and investors, as confirmation that the financial statements are reliable. Finance professionals interested in an external auditing career should supplement their education with additional accounting courses to further their knowledge and understanding of relevant accounting principles.

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(Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in the article mentioned above are those of the author(s). They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of ICS Career GPS or its staff.)

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