You may have thought that financial catastrophes of the past two years had completely decimated the banking and finance industries.
Although these sectors of the job market did experience heavy lay offs, signs of new life are emerging. In a the June 28 article “Finance Firms Rev Up Hiring,” The Wall Street Journal reveals that 6,800 finance jobs were added between February and May, the largest three-month increase in the past two years. The article adds that starting salary offers are up to 40% higher than they were one year ago.
So if you were considering a finance career once upon a time, but got scared off by the financial ups and downs of the past 24 months, now is the time to get back on track. Here’s a look at 3 hot finance careers and the degrees you’ll need to get started.
According to the WSJ, banking positions are currently some of the most desirable. Whether you want to work at a large corporate bank or a smaller boutique firm, banks are one of the cornerstones of the economy, protecting money and lending money to business across the country. Financial managers, commodities agents, accountants, and computer specialists are just a few of the professionals that make a bank run.
Whether we like it or not, insurance is something we all need, which is why insurance is another hot career option the WSJ puts at the top of their list. But insurance professionals do more than just sell you policies for your new car; they are involved in maintaining accounts, handling claims, and advising their clients on risk management, financial planning and investment strategies.
Loan Officer Careers
Within the banking careers, there is one group of professionals who we’ll all need to go visit at some point in our life: the loan officer. These men and women use their expertise in finance and credit to determine what the best loan is, who’s eligible, and what the terms should be.
If you enjoy problem solving and working with numbers, a career in the finance industry may be perfect for you. In this lucrative and rewarding field, you have endless choices of possible career routes to pursue. If you have a business or finance degree as well as strong people and analytical skills, then you can gain entry into a vast array of financial careers, including:
Banking allows you to work directly with people and have a positive effect on their lives, making it very rewarding. In fact, Money magazine listed bankers as having the second-highest level of job satisfaction in the United States. Unlike other careers in the financial industry, a person can gain entry into the field of banking without a college degree.
Financial advisors put their money and people skills to work. A financial advisor spends most of their time consulting with clients and helping them plan their financial futures, developing investment strategies, preparing insurance programs, and so on. Many financial advisors gain entry into the field by first working for an investment firm or insurance company, then they earn a professional designation before branching out on their own. However, some choose to turn the tables and become corporate financial advisor recruiters as well.
The majority of investment bankers primarily work with large corporations, helping them develop new creative instruments for raising capital, such as collateralized debt obligations and mortgage-backed securities. However, they also perform other tasks, such as executing client trades, advising, and other tasks requiring long hours. It is possible to get a foot in the door at many investment banks with a bachelor’s degree, but an MBA opens up more doors and rewarding opportunities.
With a career in the lucrative world of corporate finance, you can help corporations plan and accomplish their financial goals by implementing financial programs, designing financial policies, managing resources, and being involved in the greater financial community. In exchange for their expertise, chief financial officers often enjoy lucrative annual salaries of $250,000 or more.
Money managers are responsible for analyzing financial trends and determining the future price movements of stocks, bonds, and other securities. Many money managers find themselves working for large mutual funds, responsible for determining the allocation of each fund. Achieving such a powerful position can be difficult, but after gaining a successful investment track record, working with insurance companies, or working for a bank trust department, the doors of opportunity tend to open considerably.
Most people immediately assume careers in real estate are limited to real estate agencies, but there are many opportunities in the world of real estate finance as well. Property management, mortgage banking, property appraising, and many other interesting career paths are available for real estate financial experts. There are many corporate real estate careers available as well, such as working for a bank’s commercial real estate department.
Careers in finance are as diverse as their earnings potential. No other industry provides as many opportunities for those with limited educational or experience backgrounds. With a little hard work and dedication, you can be successful in finance, regardless of the career you choose.
The United States’ finance industry has taken a real beating in the past three years. Since the beginning of a recent, severe recession starting in late 2008, no industry has been under more scrutiny than finance. Countless executives have lost their jobs. Huge banks have gone under. And, most importantly, average Americans have seen their wealth dwindle as the economy has slowed to a crawl. Millions have been left wondering what happened, and why. The answer, though it may seem complicated, comes down to a few basic economic principles. These principles reveal the truth about what we think we know, and what actually occurs in the finance industry.
The first is a principle called “adverse selection”. According to economic theorists, the riskiest, most dangerous candidates in finance are also most likely to get a government backing, simply because they seek that backing with more effort. As an example, think of the FDIC. Currently, this government agency insures all depositors’ money in an FDIC backed bank up to $250,000. The Wall Street giants you most often hear about in the news are all FDIC backed. So, no matter what happens to the bank itself, its employees will have no one to answer to even if the bank goes under. You’ll never hear this fact in ads for big banks on CNBC or CNN. Since the recession started, the banks have put a large focus on “responsibility” in their advertising and public relations campaigns. They have been desperately trying to convince the American public that they can be trusted. But, by seeking and accepting the FDIC’s backing, these same banks demonstrate that they don’t trust in their own responsibility enough to go without a safety net.
The other economic effect of the governmental safety net on the finance industry is what is known as “moral hazard”. This principle states that when an organization doesn’t have incentive to act responsibly, they are bound to take on more risk. This lack of incentive for responsibility doesn’t just come from the government, though. When the risky investments pan out for a big bank, its employees, investors, and even depositors are all happy. The higher the return on assets and equity, the more successful a bank is considered to be. This explains why, in the early years of the new millennium, the finance industry was so willing to give out risky home loans. They could charge higher interest rates, and in effect rake in higher profits. This, in combination with the government safety net discussed in the above paragraph, removed almost all incentives for financial institutions to act responsibly. As long as their balance sheets looked good, they were easily to convince investors and the public at large of a false reality.
Government, of course, does realize that these problems exist, and has come at them head on. Today, banks are charted, they must hold certain percentages of excess reserves and capital, and their asset holdings are severely restricted. But when the object is as strong as money, the financial industry will continue to find ways to increase risk in the hopes of increasing reward. And though new public relations efforts widen the gap between financial images and truth, the game of cat and mouse continues.
About the Writer
Over the last 30 years I have worked with over 50 organisations, such as British Telecom (Global Telecoms), Inmarsat (Global satellite operator), Ciena Corporation (Global optical networking manufacturer), Bovis (Global Construction), John Laign (International Construction and Facilites ), NSPCC (a National Children’s Charity) to name a few.
If you are an executive in the finance industry then you have probably worked with an executive search firm at some point. Finance industry recruiters work specifically with companies needing to hire executives in the finance industry. They screen candidates ahead of time so that the business doing the hiring can focus on detailed interviewing. Finance industry recruiters have specialized knowledge of the best companies and positions in the field.
It’s quite common for recruiters to approach executives who are already employed, hoping to lure them into a better position. However, with the finance industry having taken a hit in the past few years due to the economy, there are also many unemployed executives looking for work.
What qualifications are recruiters most interested in as far as the current business climate is concerned? You might be surprised. While technical skills are very important in any field, recruiters are focused on finding executives who can manage people and work well with many different personalities. Interpersonal skills are at the top of the list for that reason. Company employees are sensitive to new management that isn’t able to merge with the business atmosphere.
Other things recruiters are looking for are:
Finance is a volatile industry. Executives need to be confident leaders, willing to make essential decisions without hesitation. Yet they also need to be able to work with a team. It’s a delicate balance.
Financial services recruiters monitor social media sites as part of their searching process. It’s essential for executives to have a social media presence. That means updating your profile on a regular basis, and joining online industry groups and organizations.
Unfortunately lack of ethics has proven to be the downfall for many executives. Companies need to be assured that their executives are not going to do anything that will end up embarrassing them and their shareholders.
There are things you can do to increase your chances of finding a position through a recruiter.
1. Ask contacts for an introduction. Busy recruiters may not notice you if you don’t make the first move.
2. When you do make an appointment to speak, make it a face-to-face meeting, not a phone call. You want them to remember you.
3. Prove yourself to be a good communicator, but don’t over share. This isn’t your buddy – whatever you say can be shared with a future employer.
4. Never go over the recruiter’s head. Always work through the recruiter or you are going to end up with a terrible reputation.
5. Stay in contact even when you have a position. You will be more successful with a long-term relationship than having to start at square one.