• Sat. Apr 20th, 2024

How to Transition Into a Finance Career

Transitioning into a finance career after you’ve spent many years in another industry may seem exciting to some and daunting to others. The world of finance may offer a greater challenge as well as potential improvements in compensation, among other benefits. If you are pondering how to change your career into investment banking or any other kind of midlife career change, then here are a few tips that will help you make the transition.

Key Takeaways

  • A career change into the financial industry can come with many opportunities and challenges, and most often with potential improvements in compensation and other benefits.
  • In addition to the required knowledge set, individuals should have strong interpersonal skills and technical skills, such as comfort with Excel and other software.
  • Chances are that your current work experience, regardless of the industry, may have certain skills that you can transfer over to finance. The areas where there are gaps can be filled by online courses, school, or self-study.
  • Once you feel comfortable with the knowledge, speak with individuals in the financial field to help understand and possibly obtain a job.
  • Informational interviews, becoming a member of a career-specific organization, networking through your alumni association, or attending a business networking meeting, can help you land an interview, and then hopefully a job.

Understand Finance Career Opportunities

There’s an overwhelming amount of options and opportunities within the finance career field. The required skillset for each may vary, and the day-to-day tasks for the roles below may be substantially different across roles. As you begin your transition into finance, consider these roles as different career path opportunities.

Financial Analyst

Financial analysts evaluate financial data and trends to make investment recommendations or help companies make financial decisions. They work in various sectors, such as investment banking, asset management, or corporate finance. Common tasks include financial modeling, risk assessment, and investment research.

Investment Banker

Investment bankers assist organizations in raising capital by issuing stocks or bonds and provide advisory services for mergers and acquisitions. They work with clients to structure deals, find investors, and negotiate terms. Investment bankers often work long hours and need strong analytical and negotiation skills.

Financial Planner

Financial planners help individuals and families create comprehensive financial plans. They focus on areas like retirement planning, investment strategies, tax planning, and risk management. Effective communication and interpersonal skills are crucial in this role.

Accountant

Accountants are responsible for financial record-keeping, including preparing financial statements, managing budgets, and ensuring compliance with tax laws and regulations. Specializations include audit, tax, and management accounting.

Risk Analyst/Actuary

Risk analysts assess and manage financial risks for their organizations, including market risk, credit risk, and operational risk. They use statistical models and data analysis to make risk-related decisions. An extension of this, actuaries use mathematics and statistics to evaluate and manage risk for insurance companies and pension funds. They help set insurance premiums, assess risks, and design pension plans.

Treasury Analyst

Treasury analysts manage an organization’s cash flow, investments, and financial risk. They work to optimize cash management and may also be responsible for bank relationships and compliance.

FinTech Professional

FinTech professionals develop and manage financial technology products and services, including digital payment platforms, robo-advisors, and blockchain-based solutions. They blend finance with technology to create innovative financial products.

Take a Personality and Skills Assessment 

A career in finance requires quite a few professional skills, such as a working knowledge of finance and accounting as well as comfort with a computer and various software programs like Excel.

Those who successfully transition into finance also possess certain non-financial skills, such as the ability to communicate well, interpersonal skills, a love of problem-solving, and the ability to handle lots of numbers and details. To ensure that a career in finance is right for you, a great first step is to assess your skill sets and personality traits.

This step can be accomplished by completing an online career assessment or by contacting your alma mater’s career services office. You may even wish to engage a professional career consultant, who should be able to point you in the right direction when it comes to sizing up your strengths, weaknesses, and personality traits. Whichever method you decide to pursue, the goal is to determine how well your knowledge, skills, and abilities match the requirements of a finance career.

Online networks, such as LinkedIn, can be a good resource tool to see who in your network works in or is linked to individuals that work in finance.

Do Research and Conduct Informational Interviews

The next step in your transition into a finance career is to learn as much about your field of interest as possible, ideally by speaking with somebody who has the career that you are interested in pursuing. These conversations, also called “informational interviews,” help you to learn more about the options available to you, given your experience and your area of interest.

You may be wondering, “How do I find somebody with whom I can conduct an informational interview?” Start by asking people within your existing professional and social networks, and asking these individuals to refer you to others in their network that you can talk to. You can also perform simple searches for those who have the career you want and may have gone to your alma mater or you have a mutual connection with.

Rest assured, most people enjoy speaking about their professions and are happy to help if they can. Other options that may lead to informational interviews include becoming a member of a career-specific organization, networking through your alumni association, or attending a business networking meeting. Networking is as important as everyone tells you. The more people that you talk to, the more well-informed you will be regarding your options.

Prior to conducting an informational interview, it is important to do as much research as possible so that you can demonstrate your knowledge by asking intelligent questions during the interview. Online resources are aplenty, as are career libraries at universities and public libraries. A little bit of due diligence goes a long way in terms of credibility. A well-conducted informational interview may turn into a job – you never know!

Another important “must-do” prior to conducting an informational interview is to craft a professional resume that showcases your knowledge, skills, and abilities. Again, there are several online resources that can guide you through this process. Be sure to have your resume ready, just in case the informational interview results in a request for your resume.

Do not get discouraged if your efforts to transition into finance do not immediately bear fruit. Continue to network, conduct informational interviews, and apply for relevant positions. Solicit feedback from everyone who speaks to you, as their feedback may help you to adjust your approach as needed.

Prepare Yourself Educationally

The educational requirements for some roles such as financial analyst or finance manager require the same educational requirements. These roles typically require at least a bachelor’s degree in finance, economics, or a related field. Many financial analysts pursue advanced degrees such as an MBA or earn the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) designation to stand out. Investment bankers often opt for an MBA from a respected business school to advance their careers, and certain positions such as roles in IB are often heavily recruited directly out of school.

Accountants typically have a bachelor’s degree in accounting or a related field and often pursue the Certified Public Accountant (CPA) designation. Risk analysts hold bachelor’s degrees in finance, economics, mathematics, or a related field and may earn certifications like the Financial Risk Manager (FRM) or Professional Risk Manager (PRM).

Corporate finance professionals typically have a bachelor’s degree in finance or a related field, and some have advanced degrees. Relevant certifications, like the Certified Treasury Professional (CTP), can enhance qualifications in corporate finance. Note that each finance career has its specific educational requirements, so researching and understanding the prerequisites for your target position is crucial for a successful transition.

Finally, You’re Hired!

Getting hired is probably the hardest part of transitioning into the world of finance. Once you are hired, ensure your success by working hard, being proactive, and engaging in appropriate networking activities.

To that end, be sure to find a mentor once you arrive in your new career, perhaps a senior person who can relate to your experience, either personal or professional. This person can guide you in regards to the ins and outs of your new career and offer pointers regarding how certain situations should be approached.

Is Finance a Good Career to Get Into?

Finance can be a good career to get into depending on what an individual is seeking in their career. A career in finance can be demanding, the skills required are very specific, and there may be very long and stressful hours. The job can also be rewarding for those who enjoy finance. In addition, there is a 9% expected growth in financial analyst careers between 2021 and 2031.

How Can I Get Into Finance With No Experience?

To get into finance with no experience one will need to ensure their skill set matches what is required in a finance job. Understanding finance, economics, business, and accounting is necessary, so any gaps in knowledge will need to be filled. Obtaining certificates or completing financial boot camps will help with getting into the industry. From there, identify the specific role in finance you are interested in and become extremely familiar with it. After that, reach out to your network to set up informational interviews and possibly actual interviews.

What’s the Importance of Soft Skills in Finance Careers?

Soft skills like teamwork, leadership, and interpersonal communication are crucial in finance. They enable professionals to collaborate effectively, lead teams, and convey complex financial information to clients and colleagues. In many finance roles, the ability to work well with others is just as important as technical skills.

Can I Transition Into Finance Without a Finance Degree?

Yes, it is possible to transition into finance without a finance-specific degree. Many finance professionals have backgrounds in related fields like economics, mathematics, or even engineering. To compensate for a lack of a finance degree, gaining relevant certifications and practical experience can be essential.

The Bottom Line

Though transitioning into a finance career is exciting to some and daunting to others, particularly if such a transition is executed in midlife, rest assured that it is doable. Careful research and effective networking are crucial to a successful transition; just remember to be patient. Finally, once you make the change, be sure to find a mentor who can guide you as you move up on your career ladder.

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