The financial industry is easy enough to break into, but carving out a viable long-term career niche is tough. To succeed in this industry, one must have discipline, intelligence and a thick-skinned psyche. There are many different positions in the financial services industry, and it often takes years for individuals to find and settle into a position that is a good fit for them.
So what job is the best fit for you? In this article, we’ll give you the tools you need to begin making this important decision.
In general, if you are a persuasive and knowledgeable individual and don’t mind working long hours, a job as a registered representative might be a good fit. If, on the other hand, you love numbers, are good at math and excel spreadsheets, and relish delving into the financials of a public company, then perhaps a career path as an analyst is your best bet. If you have both skill sets, a position as a financial advisor could suit you best.
Of course, it’s important to understand that most people that enter the brokerage industry don’t end their careers in the same position in which they begin. Most use the knowledge and experience they gain in their earlier jobs in the industry to find other positions that better suits their interests. Where you end up depends on your aptitude and your desire to explore different job options.
Twenty years ago, it wasn’t uncommon for individuals in the financial industry to come from varied backgrounds. These days, a four-year college degree is a must. Typically, a bachelor’s degree in business administration is the best course. It opens the most doors as well as gives the potential job applicant more alternatives should he or she want to deviate from his or her initial career path down the line.
If your goal is to become a registered representative and sell securities, you do not need a masters in business administration (MBA). However, if you want to break into some of the more prestigious firms’ training programs (such as Goldman Sachs), it will help to earn your MBA. As an analyst, it is rapidly becoming a must. Keep in mind that this is a highly competitive industry, and this additional degree will help set you apart from the crowd.
While there are instances in which a diploma from a big-name school will help you, employers are becoming more focused on class rank and grade point average, as well as any practical experience you’ve had in the field.
With that in mind, if you want to become a money manager, financial planner or enter some other specialized field within the industry, an MBA is highly recommended. To be clear, you can still obtain a position in these fields without an MBA, but preference is usually given to candidates that have had some form of post-graduate study.
In the MBA program, consider studying finance and economics. Again, these will open the most doors for you later in your career.
Internships are available for those who want to obtain positions as analysts, bankers, registered reps or virtually any other position on Wall Street. Therefore, in an undergraduate or a graduate program, it is important to try to land an internship in the field where you want to work. Prospective brokers and/or analysts should try to get a job as an assistant at a local firm. Employers look for this type of experience on your resume.
What if you know you want to get into the industry, but don’t exactly know the type of long-term job you want or what internship to take?
It’s perfectly OK if you want to get into the industry but haven’t decided on what type of job you are aiming for. If this is the case, consider taking any front-line sales or office positions that will allow you to learn as much as possible about the industry. Again, this experience will look great your resume, and will educate you on what you might like to do down the line as you gain more experience.