College Advice Blog

Aug 26, 2012

Finance Careers: the Foundation to Success?

Most adults can appreciate the essential role money plays in acquiring goods and services.  If you don’t have enough money to purchase something, your only legal options are to go without, borrow from someone else, or wait until you have enough.  If you have more than enough, you might invest the extra cash to provide for future needs.

Finance careers can provide stability because individuals and businesses rely on financial professionals to manage and project inflows and outflows, and these careers offer great salaries because many people don’t have the skill or the patience to make sense of the numbers.  The best way to explore a financial career is to consider who or what you would be working for:

Corporations and Small Businesses

Financial professionals help ensure businesses run smoothly and efficiently.  People in these positions will track inflows and outflows, make projections, and model growth scenarios so businesses can set goals and monitor progress.  Careers involving businesses start with the basics, such as analyzing payables and receivables, which offer low, entry-level salaries.  

Positions requiring experience may include financial forecasting and eventually lead to Chief Financial Officer.  Salaries should increase based on how involved the position is with making decisions that effect current and future operations.  Recruiters for financial positions prefer someone with a Finance degree, but often the main requirement is a proven ability to work with numbers or previous experience in that type of role.

Individuals and Families

If you have a knack for numbers and enjoy helping people, then you may consider a career as a personal financial adviser.  People will always need guidance for their investments and will always benefit from an objective perspective on their financial lives, from setting budgets to savings goals.  Careers involving individuals include investment advisers, financial planners, stockbrokers, and tax preparers.  

You don’t need a financial education or background to have success working with individuals.  Your earning potential is highest when you can combine your financial acumen with public speaking, marketing, and sales skills.  If that doesn’t fit your personality, you can still enjoy success as an investment analyst or paraplanner, who perform the research and preparation behind the scenes for client meetings.

Institutions and Foundations

Financial professionals who work with churches, pensions, charities and university trust funds help keep them running to serve the members, constituents, and individuals relying on those funds.  They are necessary to keep track of inflows and outflows, make projections based on past and pledged flows, and analyze investment opportunities so that they can determine where to put excess cash for future needs and growth.  

Careers involving institutions include investment bankers, asset managers, and financial analysts, and they may begin with an internship or entry-level analyst position with an investment firm.  

The top earners are often among the top of their graduating class and have earned graduate degrees in a financial discipline.  Earning potential for these positions may be higher because they work with larger sums of money, but these positions are extremely competitive and require years of experience.

Finance careers can be fun and dynamic while also providing financial stability.  They appeal to a variety of personalities, but your success will depend on your passion for the businesses, individuals, or institutions you’re serving.  If you have a proven ability to work with numbers, that could be the foundation for a long, successful career.

About the Author
Joyce Bronson, is an education and career researcher - she also contributes to Adventures Cross Country - to learn more, check out the Who Is ARCC page to get filled in.

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