What You Can Expect From A Financial Services Career

Are you dreaming of a career in financial services? Does the glitz and glamour of The Wolf of Wall Street fascinate you? Well, there are a number of things you need to know before you embark on a career in this sector. It’s not all fun and games, and your options are nearly endless. Let’s lay it out for you.

The financial services industry is a smorgasbord of opportunities; therefore it’s important that you take a closer look at all the career options within this sector to identify the greatest compatibility with your interests as well as your skills.

You will come to find that every detail matters when it comes to landing a job in financial services, from your results both in school and university, the university you attend, your extramural activities, your achievements and your hobbies. Not only is it important to be a top student in high school and university, it is equally important that you don’t just stick to the books in your university years. It’s crucial that you take part in relevant co-curricular activities in order to highlight your passion for the industry. This will also allow you the opportunity to gain some practical exposure to your academic subjects.

As you can see, the preparation for a career in financial services starts very early and there is extra effort required the whole way through, so you do truly need to be passionate about a career in this sector if you hope to succeed in it.

 

Qualifications and Experience

Although there are always exceptions to the rule, in general, individuals wanting to move into financial services should have an undergraduate university degree at a minimum when looking for work in the financial industry. This could be a BComm Finance, a BBusSci, or PFMA. Beyond that, many finance professionals have postgrads or professional qualifications such as MBA, PhD, Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA), Certified Financial Planner (CFP), CA(SA) to name a few. Let’s take a look at some of the options available to you.

When considering the CA(SA) route, it’s beneficial to complete your SAICA articles with a Big Four auditing firm, which would allow you to focus on financial services clients, and potentially offer you the opportunity to do an overseas secondment, where you would gain international experience. As a financial services qualified CA(SA),  the options you have for a career path are endless and can include private equity, investment management, fund accounting, technical accounting and the list goes on.

The Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) designation consists of three scrupulous examinations, four years of relevant work experience, abiding by the fine-grained code of ethics of the institute, and dedicating these four years of your life in the search of professional investing excellence. Individuals who hold this title might become an Investment Analyst, a Risk Analyst, a Portfolio Manager or they could follow a career within the private wealth space.

 

Choosing A Path For Your Financial Services Career

Once you have figured out what you want to study and where your passion lies, it’s important to consider which avenue in financial services you want to take. The best way to do this is to get a clear understanding of how financial services companies are broken down. They tend to comprise of the front, middle and back office.

 

Front Office

The front office generally comprises of sales personnel and corporate finance employees – these individuals generate most of the revenue for the company. These employees also have the most direct contact with clients and they are supported by the middle and back office. Some of the roles you can hold as part of the front office include Commodity Broker, Financial Trader or Corporate Investment Banker.

 

Middle Office

The middle office staff, in short, are generally employees that manage risk and calculate profits and losses.

 

Back Office

Whilst the back office of a financial services company is the part of a company that is made up of administration and support personnel who are not client-facing, this part of the business can be seen as the part of the company that is responsible for providing the business functions related to its operations. These roles would include Fund Accountants, Financial Accountants or Compliance professionals.

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The diversity of the financial services sector is amazing and very exciting for someone just starting out. A career within the financial services space allows for continuous innovation which means you never stop learning.

We hope that reading this has helped clarify some of the nitty-gritty details that come with getting your foot in the door within the financial services industry and have helped you in making a clearer decision for your career.

 

Written by Robynn Paton – Contact her for your Financial Services recruitment needs at robynn@ca.co.za 

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