Working in the finance sector doesn’t always mean being stuck behind a desk in a bank or back office looking over reports. In fact, it can open up many different avenues in many different areas. Financial specialists enjoy a high degree of flexibility in their career paths and can often move sideways between different fields in order to pursue lucrative opportunities or developing passions. You’ll never have to worry about being trapped in a job you hate when you have good financial qualifications. These are just some of the career paths you could find yourself pursuing.
There are many different opportunities within the world of banking. You could find yourself working with private individuals or commercial operations of any size and any level of wealth. You could manage accounts, negotiate loans or mortgages, provide financial advice, or work behind the scenes on the technical side of service provision. You could work in a local branch building close relationships with your customers or travel the world negotiating international banking arrangements. There is no single line of progression in banking, with multiple areas in which you could choose to specialise.
Whether you’re investing privately for yourself, managing other people’s investments, or working for a broker, there are lots of opportunities in this fascinating area. There’s also lots of competition, so whichever route you choose, you’ll need to be at the top of your game. Working in investment requires good people skills because you’ll need to work directly with clients and make sure that you understand their priorities even if they don’t. It also involves research, which can include foreign travel to check that overseas investments match their descriptions. You’ll work with a wide variety of asset types, though you may choose to develop a specialty, and you’ll keep learning throughout your career.
Every company needs to make financial decisions on a sound basis, so every board needs a financial advisor. Management consultants combine financial savvy with other areas of expertise and step in to help companies at all levels solve their problems or pursue new opportunities. Among the highest earners in any area of finance, they deal with a wide variety of different sectors, though some choose to specialise in just one or two. They enjoy consistently interesting work and are often brought in to help with things such as mergers, acquisitions and internal restructuring.
Every political party and think tank needs to be able to cost policies properly before launching them. This requires finance experts who can deal with diverse issues with complex and wide-reaching impacts. In a role like this, you need to be able to work effectively with experts in other areas of policy development and help them to understand the cost issues that various aspects of their work entail. You will need to identify not only the cost of policies but also the income they can generate, not just at a departmental level but also in terms of potential pay-offs for other departments. You may also be asked to help organisations manage their internal finances.
Governments have a great deal of money to manage, and as such they need the best available advisors. They often reach into the worlds of banking and investment to find them. Fahad Alrajaan was already well known as a banker when he became Director General of Kuwait’s Public Institute for Social Security. This kind of role involves not only policy development but also the day-to-day management of departments or departmental projects. It requires a diligent, responsive approach – and, often, the ability to make projects work with far less funding than the amount initially budgeted for them.
The third sector
If you like the idea of working in a role where you can give something back and really do good in the world, then the third sector could be for you. Every registered charity requires a treasurer, and large charities require a lot more ongoing work on everything from securing grants to payroll management and budgeting for project work. Small charities often can’t afford to pay for such services or can pay only a small amount, which actually makes them a good place for freshly qualified finance specialists to start gaining some experience while looking for bigger opportunities. At the top level, they can pay as well as any organisation and provide interesting and varied work.
With all these options and more available, a move into finance is not a final move – it’s just the beginning of the road.