August 25, 2019

Career Column: It’s All About the Money

Literally, the jobs described below are all about the money, exchanging it, managing it, and making it, without manufacturing anything at all.  If you work in banking or financial services, you probably already know about these jobs.  This column is for those who don’t work in banking or finance.  It should be of special interest to parents, spouses, friends, or siblings of people working in these fields, or readers who are considering them.  

 

Financial Analysts

These professionals assess the performance of investments by studying financial statements and analyzing other financial information to project earnings and determine a company’s value.  Financial analysts typically focus on specific industries or narrower subject areas.  They use spreadsheets and statistical software, and they are likely to work long hours, travel, and face stressful deadlines.  Financial analysts need strong math, analytical, and problem-solving skills, and they should be detail-oriented and highly motivated because they have to do intensive research and focus on minute details.  They need a good academic background and at least a bachelor’s degree in a related field.  These jobs pay very well and are highly competitive.   Students who are considering a career as a financial analyst should work hard in college, majoring in business, economics, finance, or a related field.  A strong background in math, good study habits, and good time management skills honed in high school would be an advantage.   

Stockbrokers, Financial Services Sales Agents, Investment Bankers

The Bureau of Labor Statistics includes stockbrokers, investment bankers, and financial services sales agents in one category, “Securities, Commodities, and Financial Services Sales Agents.”  These positions have in common the need to find customers and sell them financial products.  Stockbrokers advise clients on investments and conduct transactions, charging a commission on each one.  It is essential that they build a customer base.   Financial services sales agents sell a variety of financial products, such as insurance, banking services, or credit cards.     Investment bankers sell advisory services to companies and sell securities.  All of these jobs can be quite stressful.  Investment banking in particular requires very long hours and a very high level of motivation.  Only the top performers keep their jobs after the first couple of years.  Those who succeed, however, are rewarded by making quite a lot of money.    Excellent interpersonal and communication skills, self-confidence, and high levels of motivation are essential to success in all of these fields.  A college degree in business, finance, or a related field is usually required and sales experience is an advantage.  Young people considering these fields can prepare by honing their interpersonal and time management skills along with studying math, business, or finance. 

Personal Financial Advisors

Personal financial advisors assist individuals with investment, insurance and related decisions and help them plan to meet short and long term financial goals.   Some financial advisors also sell financial products.  All must do a lot of marketing to establish a client base, and they may conduct seminars or programs to engage clients.    Personal financial advisors usually have a college degree and often take courses in investments, estate planning, or related areas on their own.  They need good sales, math, and communication skills, and with experience and an exam they can obtain the Certified Financial Planner credential.  Good job growth is expected, but these jobs are competitive and those who have strong sales skills are likely to be most successful.  A career as a personal financial advisor can be a good choice for a career changer who has strong interpersonal and sales skills, an interest in the field, and a facility with numbers. 

The careers described above all require math skills, analytical ability, and a high level of motivation.  Financial analysts need a stronger finance background, while stockbrokers, investment bankers, financial services sales agents, and personal financial advisors need strong interpersonal and sales skills.  All of these can be challenging, stressful occupations requiring long hours and hard work, but for individuals with the right interests, talents, and temperament these fields can be tremendously rewarding, personally and financially.   One caveat, however, is that the demands and stress of these positions can, and often will, take a toll on family life.  That’s a topic for another column. 

Career Resource

The Riley Guide (www.rileyguide.com/), published online since 1994, is a comprehensive and easy to navigate directory of online job search and employment resources.  It provides straightforward information about careers and also provides links to helpful job search information.  For example, the Riley Guide offers a  directory of executive search firms for finance and accounting jobs as well as links to salary guides.   It also offers pages and websites that provide more general career advice, such as how to write a cover letter and how to network and interview.   In addition, it has a section on handling a job loss.    I highly recommend it as a place to start or continue a job search.

Karen Goldfinger, Ph.D. is a psychologist in private practice in Essex, Connecticut.   She specializes in psychological assessment for clinical, educational, and forensic purposes and has a special interest in career assessment.  She and two partners recently established KSB Career Consultants, LLC to provide on line career consultation for clients in Connecticut and New York.   Contact her with questions,  comments, or suggestions for the column at karengoldfinger@comcast.net

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