What financial career is right for me? I'm in college and can't decide what to major in. I am interested in personal finance / investing and I like learning about investing and strategizing.

Updated on : January 20, 2022 by Rhys Collins



What financial career is right for me? I'm in college and can't decide what to major in. I am interested in personal finance / investing and I like learning about investing and strategizing.

This is a very nuanced question and it really deserves a more nuanced answer than the one I am writing about. The universe of financial careers is extremely diverse, and making generalizations based on some personality traits is a heuristic at best. That said, I've seen these characterizations to be quite accurate:

  1. Traders - Has a knack for numbers and is good with math / logic puzzles (usually some experience with competing math). He also likes to play gambling games (i.e. Texas Hold'em, Fantasy Football) and is good at matching patterns and thinking on his feet.
  2. Investment Bankers -
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This is a very nuanced question and it really deserves a more nuanced answer than the one I am writing about. The universe of financial careers is extremely diverse, and making generalizations based on some personality traits is a heuristic at best. That said, I've seen these characterizations to be quite accurate:

  1. Traders - Has a knack for numbers and is good with math / logic puzzles (usually some experience with competing math). He also likes to play gambling games (i.e. Texas Hold'em, Fantasy Football) and is good at matching patterns and thinking on his feet.
  2. Investment Bankers - You are proud and ambitious, Type A. Willing to put in long hours for prestige and compensation. Definitely a social animal and good to be nice (that is, your partner would have no problem taking you home for Thanksgiving to meet your family). You have an eye for detail and are willing to go the extra mile to make sure a deadline is met.
  3. Quants: You are very smart from an academic point of view (think of a PhD from one of the best universities). Typical backgrounds are mathematics, computer science, and physics. He did not go into finance for the money, although he is paid handsomely anyway. You love thinking about correlations, statistics, how to translate real world events into a mathematical model.
  4. Equity Research - You love to read and learn about the world, and you are interested in companies and how they make money. Good at formulating arguments and defending them with solid evidence (debaters generally do well here). You may have the courage to go against conventional wisdom to do what you think is right, but the humility to acknowledge when you are wrong. You have nerves of steel and the patience to resist short-term uncertainty with a view to the long-term (delayed gratification).
  5. Credit Research - Similar to Stock Research, but more focused on what can go wrong than what can go right. You will spend more time with legal issues and anticipation strategies (ie chess). Who has what incentives? How are they likely to act when dividing a small cake?
  6. Private Equity (LBO) - You love planning ahead and you hate uncertainty. Good for negotiating / structuring terms for agreements. You prefer stability, safer bets with modest payouts over a longer period. Creativity helps with the financial engineering aspect. You are also reasonably optimistic and good at seeing how relatively bad things can be improved.
  7. Venture Capital - He's a perennial optimist and visionary (or so he likes to say to himself) and he's willing to go for the Ave Maria - high risk, high return every time. You're that guy who always dreamed of crazy "what if" scenarios. You are not afraid to get your hands dirty to help other people achieve their goals, so there is a selfless side of you that enjoys watching others succeed.
  8. Portfolio Managers - You like to take a step back and see the big picture. You're always thinking about optimizing things / people ("this could be done better, that could be done faster") and you spend a lot of time thinking about risk. He's also not afraid to get a little involved in politics here and there as he tries to direct more capital into his fund.
  9. Accountants - Very detail-oriented and picky about making sure things come together / are consistent. Not necessarily the most creative person, but meticulous and with a good moral compass.

You sound like me a few years ago. I loved all my finance classes, the idea of ​​investing, I knew more about the stock market than anyone I met in college, and I thought I was destined for a great career in something I loved. I currently work as a consultant for a niche derivatives consulting firm. The work-life balance is amazing and I earn more than anyone my age that I know personally except my best friend who was the best friend from our high school and graduated with a 4.0 from college with a degree. in mathematics.

That being said, I wouldn't recommend majoring in finance for a number of reasons ...

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You sound like me a few years ago. I loved all my finance classes, the idea of ​​investing, I knew more about the stock market than anyone I met in college, and I thought I was destined for a great career in something I loved. I currently work as a consultant for a niche derivatives consulting firm. The work-life balance is amazing and I earn more than anyone my age that I know personally except my best friend who was the best friend from our high school and graduated with a 4.0 from college with a degree. in mathematics.

That being said, I wouldn't recommend majoring in finance for a number of reasons ...

1) What I left out of the description above is that I don't really enjoy my job. If you are like me, you like strategy and the general aspect of finance. You like to apply the basics, maybe you like math, but you are interested in finding ways to get high returns, passively. The problem is, to get to that kind of level where you can really think at a strategic level, you have to work hard doing "mindless" work for at least a decade, and even then nothing is guaranteed. In finance, you need a couple of really smart people with a lot of experience to devise a strategy and a lot of semi-smart people to execute. You may never become part of the really smart group where you can strategize.

2) I got a degree in accounting, rather than finance, even though I hated accounting and knew I would prefer finance. The problem is that, in the real world, the two degrees are infinitely intermingled, and every good financier should know a little about accounting and probably even more about taxes. If you hated accounting, that's a good indicator that entry-level finance probably won't be much fun for you.

3) Your title doesn't matter. Beyond your first job or two, no one will care much about your title. I'm only in my second company and the interview was about my previous experience. All business degrees are pretty much the same, and a finance degree is neither better nor worse than a degree in accounting or economics or even business administration (although marketing may place you in the group of "not a person with an orientation quantitative "). However, interestingly, I see that people with "nerdy" degrees get preference over those with business degrees for entry-level jobs of all kinds (including business-oriented jobs). I'm talking about anything from chemical engineering to math to computer science.

In short, I think the fun parts of finance aren't the ones you'll end up doing until very late in your career, and you can still get there without a finance degree. Earning a more quantitative degree will broaden your mind even more, give you better opportunities right out of college, and there is no downside if you still want to pursue finance at some point. Finally, you can think about a strategic financial level when managing your own portfolio. Manage your own portfolio, and if you were destined for finances, you won't have to work for anyone else for too long.

Best of luck.

The short answer is yes, there is a financial career for you if you work, learn the industry, and get good at your job.

The answer that will help you the longest requires a mindset shift that often occurs during the 20s when people enter the workforce.

As young professionals enter their first job after school, they learn that careers are not a straight line from point A (their first job) to point B (retirement), but that careers are actually lines that go up and down many times. Every step in your career won't be the perfect decision, and that's okay. No one expects you to find a care

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The short answer is yes, there is a financial career for you if you work, learn the industry, and get good at your job.

The answer that will help you the longest requires a mindset shift that often occurs during the 20s when people enter the workforce.

As young professionals enter their first job after school, they learn that careers are not a straight line from point A (their first job) to point B (retirement), but that careers are actually lines that go up and down many times. Every step in your career won't be the perfect decision, and that's okay. Nobody expects you to find a career that you can do for 40 years right after finishing school. It will take trial and error of trying jobs many times in your 20s and 30s before finding the right path for you. Accept uncertainty and set a goal to learn more about yourself in every job you do. Your career is a journey, not a final destination.

The problem with finances that others have mentioned is that in real life, you really can't do much of what you said you enjoyed. If you are in a company, there is usually a stock book you can work with, so your options are limited. Similarly, with risk management, your job is pretty absurd (rebalancing portfolio ratios).

I am interested in research that you might consider investigating. Strategic planning also appears to be one of the least "foolish" career paths in finance.

You absolutely wouldn't base your decision on an introductory accounting class. My recommendation is to get a tangible internship experience at an asset management store and see how you like it. I also recommend doing informational interviews with alumni / people in the vertical that interests you. It will be difficult to get into AM or a hedge fund after college, so I also recommend looking into sales and trading, stock research, and investment banking. All will offer strong training programs to develop your technical skill set. Best of luck.

I think you will do great! I know some people who come from a completely non-financial background, but they were able to pull it off. A friend of mine graduated from engineering but ended up appearing in the CFA. I was taking online courses from Bluebook Academy, Khan Academy. And yes, he recently got a certificate from Bluebook Academy. So maybe you should just explore and discover its possibilities. Good luck!

The answers to this question would be broad because many factors must be considered before applying for a finance job in an organization. Therefore, we may have to consider the types of careers in finance, as each one is different from another based on required skills, task orientation, and positions.

As someone who worked for over 10 years in Singapore for a major IB and was Asia Director, worked extensively elsewhere, I would suggest that Singapore is NOT a good place to start your career (although that may vary depending on what you mean by finance, you mean investment banking IPO and advisory or negotiation / structuring or back office areas as risk or control). Regardless, it is likely to be next to impossible.

Don't get me wrong, I love Singapore and would be back tomorrow, but I didn't go at the beginning of my career. It has many things going for it, good infrastructure, regulatory environment

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As someone who worked for over 10 years in Singapore for a major IB and was Asia Director, worked extensively elsewhere, I would suggest that Singapore is NOT a good place to start your career (although that may vary depending on what you mean by finance, you mean investment banking IPO and advisory or negotiation / structuring or back office areas as risk or control). Regardless, it is likely to be next to impossible.

Don't get me wrong, I love Singapore and would be back tomorrow, but I didn't go at the beginning of my career. It has a lot going for it, good infrastructure, regulatory environment, a great place to live (if you get paid enough). It grew enormously as a back office center in the 1990s. Mandarin is not necessary at all, you hardly hear it in the office, in fact it is not the first language of most people - Lee Kuan Yew decided that all ethnic Chinese should learn it even though most Singaporean Chinese are more They likely speak Hokkien at home, but deemed it useless internationally. Tax rates are low. Everything is OK until now.

To the bad, it's shrinking (back office anyway), it's too expensive, and most banks have cut back on mass moving jobs to India and other lower-cost areas. The stock market is small (although they have had some success in getting foreign companies listed there, so IB may be fine), the bond market is also quite insignificant. In terms of local structured products, nothing is happening either. You will learn much less than in, say, London, which is the global derivatives hub (NY global cash hub). In terms of getting a job. Unlikely. As a recent graduate, you will likely not be granted a visa; you need to show that you cannot hire locally and for a new hire that is difficult, although I guess it does not apply very rigidly, a title may suffice. Even if that were possible, the Singapore government awards scholarships abroad to top Indian and Chinese students who are then linked to work in Singapore. Almost all entry-level hires come from NUS / NTU (the two big local universities) and there is massive competition. Basically, there is no reason to hire you (sorry).

Entry level salaries are low compared to UK / US and it is stupidly expensive to live there, at least as a foreigner.

10 years later, much better. Lots of HF and it's a really nice place to be.

For Asia HK would be much better. Cantonese is not necessary either, although you will hear it a lot in the office and certainly useful, much more so than Mandarin in Singapore. The local market is much larger and, at least in equity, it has many things more structured. Many banks also market JPY structured rate products from there. I'm also not sure why I would get a visa without experience, but if I could, I would learn a lot more there. Whether a lot of things are moving to Shanghai is debatable, but my crystal ball won't tell me.

Overall though I would suggest various places in Asia are great but experienced not to start. HK is probably better when it comes to your career, Singapore is a better place to live with a family.

Unlike others, I don't think Brexit causes too much trouble in London, but no one knows. Frankfurt is too small and has a language barrier (the total population of Frankfurt is not much different than the number of people working in financial services in London). They tried to grow in the 90s, well, there was no Brexit problem, they failed. Anyway, nobody wants to live there ... Sure, some places may move some jobs, mainly back office and Deutsche Bank seems like a basket case anyway, but Frankfurt won't take over. Other places are better situated, for example Amsterdam or even Dublin, but again, nobody knows. Anyway, I hope some smart lawyers come up with an idea of ​​overseas branch or setting up an SPV.

Once again, London is the world center for derivatives. You will technically learn more there. NY is the largest cash / equity / IPO bond center. If you want to participate on that side then it is better (visa as inexperienced recruitment, I don't know). London has a time advantage, as it is also reasonably easy to talk to colleagues in Asia or New York.

In any case, I would start in London (assuming I'm right and it doesn't collapse) and look abroad in some way. Also, as is clear from all of the above, people seem to think that good graduates from the best European universities can choose where to work. This is simply not true. Even London can be difficult in short, although I also assume that visas will not be too difficult to obtain depending on the negotiations.

Another point to keep in mind. In my experience, the vast majority of foreigners living and working for IB in Asia were relocated by their current employer and a smaller number changed jobs while already there. Direct hires abroad (with experience or not) are minimal.

Personally, I have done a lot of research on careers in Finance and I know many people who work in investment banks. I certainly think I can share some things that I know.

Personally, I believe that a law degree prepares you very well for a career in investment banking because you are trained to be critical thinkers and your knowledge of law will certainly benefit you when you work as an investment banker. As Llyod Blankfein (the CEO of Goldman Sachs, who also has a law degree like you) has said in an interview, your title doesn't matter that much, as the people who are there

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Personally, I have done a lot of research on careers in Finance and I know many people who work in investment banks. I certainly think I can share some things that I know.

Personally, I believe that a law degree prepares you very well for a career in investment banking because you are trained to be critical thinkers and your knowledge of law will certainly benefit you when you work as an investment banker. As Llyod Blankfein (the CEO of Goldman Sachs, who also has a law degree like you) said in an interview, your degree doesn't matter that much, as the people who work with you can teach you technical skills very quickly. What matters most will be innovation and creativity. Of course, you must have a very solid foundation in Mathematics and you must be someone who is not afraid to work with numbers all the time.

If you are really interested in getting into investment banking, one thing to keep in mind is the fierce atmosphere. Because investment banking is particularly known for extreme reduction in the number of positions on the scale, all of your colleagues will be your competitors. This fact, along with the likelihood that your colleagues are very competitive in nature, and as I quote one of the people I met at IB who has a very obnoxious personality, you will probably have to take this seriously into account as this could be a problem. very important problem for your working life. I'd say if you agree, you should definitely go ahead and give it a try. But I'm pretty sure the fierce atmosphere won't be as severe in law firms.

But one important thing to keep in mind is the selectivity of investment banks. If you are interested in getting into the best IBanks (namely Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, which are the two pure investment banks in the "Bulge Bracket"), you should almost have a degree from a prestigious university. In your case, if you're studying law, I'll be pretty sure to say you need to graduate from Harvard, Yale, or Stanford, maybe Columbia (your preference will probably be in this order), in the UK, probably only Oxford and Cambridge will be considered. I know how people can say that their school doesn't matter much, but for IBanks, because so many graduates in so many disciplines will fight for so few jobs (you will find yourself competing against PhDs in Physics and Engineering), their Alma mater prestige is very important. The rationale for the IBanks hiring principle is very simple: If you graduated from a very prestigious university, you are likely to be very smart in the first place. You can go for less famous but equally good IBanks,

However, I still believe in meritocracy and do not agree with the IBanks recruiting principle. If you really want to excel in finance and are willing to work really hard, I think starting a hedge fund is the best way to go. However, that will be a totally different story.

I deal with quite a few people whose main ambition is to work in finance, or they study finance as a bachelor's degree or are seeking an unrelated finance degree.

They wonder anyway; how do i get that job

It all starts with doing ...

Finances are about doing, being proactive, not studying. It's like being a carpenter. You can read from a book, but only when you apply will you really start to develop skills that will help you tackle problems at work. Skills that will make you better than others. The sooner you develop this, the better.

Which means you need to practice being

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I deal with quite a few people whose main ambition is to work in finance, or they study finance as a bachelor's degree or are seeking an unrelated finance degree.

They wonder anyway; how do i get that job

It all starts with doing ...

Finances are about doing, being proactive, not studying. It's like being a carpenter. You can read from a book, but only when you apply will you really start to develop skills that will help you tackle problems at work. Skills that will make you better than others. The sooner you develop this, the better.

Which means you have to practice being a financial practitioner yourself. At home. The easiest way to do this is by looking at your annual disclosures. This will give you an idea of ​​the actual work the company is doing. So, for example, I copy the following from HSBC's annual disclosures, a process called backtesting.

This process of comparing P&L versus VaR also means that there is also a VaR validation process. A simple daily check of the VaR limit. VaR will consist of a few components. All these components will have individual risk managers, linked to their operators. These components could be FX, they could be Commodities or Rates, for example. You don't have to be a rocket scientist to figure out which product could drive an FX VaR.

When you read the disclosure pages about this, you realize that HSBC has some entities that are approved by the PRA. When you dig into the details, that is, the PRA related documents, you will notice that the process / basis for the backtesting will change, due to the upcoming FRTB. FRTB stands for Fundamental Review of the Trading Book.

So for example in 2018 I work with 1 particular bank looking to be 'FRTB' ready. The only way to check if a company is ready for 'FRTB' is by checking its current infrastructure. From merchants to product control and risk managers. Your IT systems and what they will need to change all that. (1) You can imagine that some people are reluctant to change, which means that HSBC will appreciate people who will be able to convey a correct communicative message, (2), since the basis of backtesting will change, their VaR validation methods will have to change, you can already think of the ways you would.

However, I have never worked a single day for HSBC, I have a clear idea of ​​what work is being done and how I could contribute, and what problems await me.

This is only a SMALL part of all disclosures. Can you imagine if you really go deep into everything? You will build a much better job of real / practical work being done in a company, and how you, as a (future) employee, could contribute.

When I have a graduate / senior for an interview with no financial experience, maybe a CFA, all they would have to do is this: prepare / impress.

This is how you effectively prepare for a career in finance.

This is how you see what the company does (gives you an idea)

Here's how you see what the company is struggling with (let's say the company had 50 exceptions in one year)

Here's how you can see what problems will arise for the business and how you can help.

I love calling finance "the science of money." Starting a career in finance can be very exciting and varied. There are many different possibilities for people, including banking, mortgages, instruments, or fundamentally anything you can think of. There is no unique character of someone who works in finance, because money is actually a science of the right hemisphere of the brain. There are numbers involved, of course, but there is also a giant creative part.
Step 1
A career in finance begins with a good education. Due to competition, to enter the world of finance you will need at least one

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I love calling finance "the science of money." Starting a career in finance can be very exciting and varied. There are many different possibilities for people, including banking, mortgages, instruments, or fundamentally anything you can think of. There is no unique character of someone who works in finance, because money is actually a science of the right hemisphere of the brain. There are numbers involved, of course, but there is also a giant creative part.
Step 1
A career in finance begins with a good education. Due to competition, to enter the world of finance, you will need at least a bachelor's degree. Graduate college is generally required for future advancement, but the best part is that your employer pays you most of the time. You can attend graduate college online while you work.
Step 2
There are many sections on finance, but you can specialize in accounting, math, economics, or perhaps statistical data. Finance is a mixture of creativity and math at the same time. You don't have to be great at math, as the problems aren't that hard, but you do have to be awesome. If you've ever seen the movie Wall Street, you know what I'm saying.
Step 3
Equity Financing While in School. You can get an internship or a job that pays well. Although we are in a recession, there are still many roles in finance. Credit and equity finance, loan corporations, and other types of corporations are always looking for entry-level people. It could be a fun experience to discover how you really fit into working with money. If you are attending college, go to career day or visit the career center to look for a job.
Step 4
After graduation, it's time to start considering what type of financing you suspect you might like. Equity financing deals with monetary planning for the future. Credit financing is a giant area today, as American citizens continue to spend more than we have. Loan firms and property financing will be there, even through slumps in the housing market because people need a place to live. It's okay to try 1 or 2 different areas of finance before you find what you like.
Step 5
Starting a vocation in finance If you enter with a good solid company, start asking about graduate college programs. Many large firms or firms will basically pay your way to graduate from college. Having that title behind your name will open many doors for you. To be honest, there are many occasions to advance in finance, however there is a point where you will need an MBA or higher to challenge.
Step 6
Monster and Career Builder are good sites for finding roles, but you have to stand out. The cookie cutter resumes and the characters will no longer cut it. You have to be awesome and smooth. Also, try giant insurance firms like State Farm. On their websites they have professional links to all kinds of functions across the country.

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