Interested in Changing to a Career in Finance? Here’s How to Boost Your Current Skills
Sometimes, you know your current career isn’t the right fit. Maybe you aren’t excited by the work anymore or, in fact, you never were. Many people end up initially following a path that isn’t ideal, but that doesn’t mean you can’t make a change later down the track.
If your heart lies in finance, individual skills you likely already possess can help you gain your footing when starting a new career in this dynamic and exciting industry. Others can be acquired through additional education and training. Here’s what you need to know.
Assess Your Skills
The first step for any career change is to review your current competencies and compare them to your target field. Certain technical abilities transcend many fields. This includes computer skills and knowledge of key pieces of software, like Microsoft Excel and Word. Soft skills like communications expertise and customer service also transition across easily, so you may already possess a solid foundation of what a finance professional needs to succeed.
Take stock of your current competencies, creating a list of skills that can serve you well in your new career. Then, compare this list to information from job postings for your target position. This approach lets you know what you already have covered and which areas will need improvement to make the transition possible.
In some cases, you’ll find your current experience is enough to make the leap. This more often occurs if you work in an allied field and have a college degree that applies. However, if your list shows skill gaps or you don’t meet the educational minimums, there’s also no need to worry. There’s plenty you can do to get things up to where they need to be.
Education: Head Back to School
When transitioning to a career in finance, you may need to develop certain skills to work in the field or even obtain additional formal education to land a position. Many finance jobs have minimum educational requirements, and that means heading back to school may be a necessity.
Luckily, degrees related to finance are often easy to locate. Most major Australian tertiary institutions will offer a suitable degree. If you don’t live near a suitable school, online degrees are also a great option for this field, especially if you are self-motivated. For example, you can study the 2.5 year, part-time Master of Finance online through Griffith University if you meet the relevant prerequisites, with the part-time nature of this program allowing you to continue working on the side and gaining valuable experience as you study.
Or alternatively, you can choose an associate’s or bachelor’s program if you are starting from the beginning. Another option to keep in mind is Griffith University’s accelerated online Graduate Certificate in Finance program which provides a direct pathway to the Master of Finance degree.
While changing to a career in finance may be scary, pursuing this field if you feel you can truly devote yourself to it is a wise decision, especially if you aren’t happy with where you are today. Then you can continue forward knowing that you’ve made the right choice, allowing you to take your working life in a better direction based on your career goals.
With a Master of Finance allowing you to work in a wide variety of related roles, including Accounting, Derivatives, Foreign Exchange, Investment Banking and Risk Management amongst other fields, gaining professional certification is a sound way to improve your career prospects further. Which certification you gain is of course dependent on the specific position you’d like to pursue, with the CFA Institute a peak body for general investment professionals, the CPA (Certified Practicing Accountants) covering accounting professionals and FINSIA an umbrella organisation covering all occupations within the financial services sector. Keep in mind specific experience requirements before seeking certification, so you can take the relevant exams from each of these organisations as soon as you qualify!
Financial professionals in Australia are subject to a range of licenses which bolster the integrity of our financial system. This includes obtaining an AFS (Australian Financial Services License) granted by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC), a requirement for any professional who provides financial advice to clients, trades in financial markets or markets financial products to other individuals. An AFS can be applied for online by eligible parties via ASIC’s AFS Licensees Portal. Your personal details can also be updated from here too.
Landing a Job
Jobs in Finance are highly sought after given their higher than average salaries, their prestige and the opportunities to move up within an organisation they typically offer. Completing a Master of Finance in conjunction with gaining work experience on the side will certainly help you stand out in this crowded field but is no guarantee of finding your dream job from the very beginning. For this reason it’s important not to stress about finding the “perfect” opportunity for your first position. Getting your foot in the door so to speak with a reputable financial services firm who offer good training programs and the ability to progress within, should be your primary focus when conducting your graduate job hunt.