This first chapter of this guide will examine some of the background information jobseekers in the financial industry might find useful. In particular you will find an overview of requirements for many finance roles and a discussion of professional qualifications and licenses commonly found among finance professionals. This chapter will also take a brief look at what cities finance jobs are usually found in as well as resources to help you go about finding a job.
- Brian Perry
Jobs in the finance industry can be extremely lucrative so the basic qualifications to break into the industry are high. While there are always exceptions to every rule, for the most part, an undergraduate college degree is an absolute minimum when seeking a job in the finance industry. In addition, many finance industry participants have graduate degrees; MBAs are most commonly found, but other types of master's degrees and PhDs are also prevalent.
As with most industries, finance also has its own unique set of professional qualifications and licenses. These include professional designations such as the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA), Certified Financial Planner (CFP) or Certified Public Accountant (CPA) designations as well as securities industry professional licenses such as the Series 7 & Series 63 licenses issued by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA.) Both designations and licenses require completing a course of study and passing an exam intended to develop an individual's knowledge base. The main difference between designations and licenses is that designations (like the CFA) are "resume boosters" that confer prestige on the holder while licenses (like the Series 7) are legal requirements to transact certain types of business.
There are finance industry jobs in almost every city in the United States and around the world, but the largest concentration of jobs tend to be found in cities commonly considered to be international financial centers, including New York, London, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Dubai and Zürich. Native English speakers should bear in mind that for many jobs overseas foreign language skills might be a requirement (and would certainly be useful). Over the past several years, finance job growth has been particularly strong in developing market countries, a trend that many believe will continue into the future. While the greatest number of jobs are found in the largest cities, job seekers that live elsewhere and are unwilling to move should not despair. Many large banks have branches in mid-sized cities, and money management firms and hedge funds can be found in a variety of locations. Corporate finance jobs are also available outside of the international financial centers.
While competition for many finance jobs can be fierce, there are some tools and resources to help you with your search. Many industry professionals enter the field right out of college or graduate school and are recruited when financial firms visit their schools. Therefore, if you are still in school, your university career office should be a great place to begin your job search. If you are already out of school, or just want to supplement the resources available through your school, many job postings can be found on specialized sites such as efinancial.com, the CFA website, or a Bloomberg terminal. Social media sites such as LinkedIn are also growing in popularity as a recruitment tool. Many financial companies prefer working with a recruiter when attempting to fill an opening. Therefore, finding recruiters in your local city and contacting them with your resume might prove to be a successful strategy. Finally, the key to a successful financial job search (as with any job search) is persistence. Competition is fierce, but if you want a finance job badly enough, and work at it hard enough and consistently enough, your efforts should ultimately pay off with the job you are looking for.
This information will prove valuable once you have narrowed your job search towards a particular field of finance, which the remainder of this guide will help you do.