Why careers in finance require a lot of learning

A career in finance is about so much more than money, and requires extensive knowledge of a wide range of subjects in order to excel. The number of subsets within each of the finance sectors can make it difficult to home in on a favored career path. For example, a hedge fund employee may be expected to take up roles as a trader, financial analyst, quantitative analyst, marketing manager or regulatory compliance officer. To adapt and thrive in these environments, finance professionals need a solid foundation of education and training.

Education and training

The finance industry is a complex and multifaceted beast with a range of sub-industries and sectors, which is why careers in finance require a lot of learning. A bachelor’s degree is generally a prerequisite for a career in the finance industry, so focus on core subjects, such as business administration, accounting or finance, depending on your dream role. These programs will enable you to learn about finance planning, portfolio assessment and other subjects to prepare you for real-world work. A university such as Maryville offers a bachelors in accounting online, which is a great option for anyone looking for the flexibility pursuing a further education while working. Once you have graduated you then have the option of acquiring a master’s degree, which will further boost your professional aspirations.

Skills to learn

Employers generally attempt to source finance professionals with a well-rounded skill set, made up of a mix of hard, teachable abilities, such as accounting and economics, and soft traits, such as communication and decision-making. While every student will focus on a core subject during their bachelor’s degree, there is a range of courses that are applicable to almost every role in the finance sector. Taking on additional subjects outside of the business school curricula can also give you an edge in the job market. The main areas of study that leading organizations will be looking for include:

Mathematics

Math and finance are fundamentally intertwined, as even the most basic activities require arithmetic. Learning how to solve equations quickly will also stand you in good stead for work in complex financial markets, enable you to compare and contrast large batches of information and determine the best course of action with regard to stocks and shares, if your job role requires it. There is a range of courses available for algebra, calculus and other areas of math that can get you up to speed.

Economics

Courses in microeconomics and macroeconomics can improve your understanding of topics, such as banking, recessions, wealth and finance, by helping you to understand how money and resources are used in modern business, and the impact of financial decisions at enterprise level and how these affect the wider economy. Knowledge of marketing trading and how stocks work also ties neatly into this. Finally, accounting and managerial accounting is beneficial, even if you are not focusing on roles such as auditing, as you will be able to record, report and understand the different facets of financial transactions, as well as monitor and manage an enterprise’s budget and expenditure.

Psychology

Critical thinking is also required for solving problems, understanding behaviors and uncovering trends within the finance industry. Applying this with your math and economics knowledge will do wonders for decision-making. Courses you could take include behavioral finance and behavioral psychology, which both look at the unique motivations of each of the parties within the financial sector. A writing course will also enable to put your thoughts to paper more coherently and improve communications via letters, reports and memos.

Common key skills

Whether you are working as a bank cashier or are aiming to graduate as a qualified accountant, there are certain skills and attributes that will be transferrable across the finance sector and will be required by almost every employer. Therefore, you should have good all-round IT skills, excellent verbal and oral communications, a logical and analytical mindset for solving problems, an ability to work on your own and with a team, and an awareness and interest of trends in your chosen field.

Specific skill sets

These core attributes should be supplemented by specific skills for your chosen area of the finance industry. For example, investment analysts need to be well versed in the latest market developments, be able to conduct due diligence via in-depth research and be aware of the impact of the political and economic climate on investment potential. Meanwhile, an accountant is expected to be able to digest and make sense of a high volume of information, while a stockbroker will need a greater focus in expressive interpersonal skills to forge relationships that will bring added value to stocks and investments. Corporate finance, on the other hand, is a job role that requires employees to maximize corporate value while mitigating risk by forecasting profits and losses, negotiating lines of credit and coordinating with auditors. As you can see, the job responsibilities can be vastly different.

Finance job roles require a lot of learning, but with a focus on a core subject and a generalist approach to other important areas of finance, you can quickly become a jack-of-all-trades and a master of a certain niche or subset as you look to forge a long-term and successful career in the industry.