The financial industry is wide and, therefore, multiple career options are available for would-be financial experts across insurance, corporate banking, investment, real estate, and lately, fintech and other related businesses. Financial experts are eager to apply their acumen in high performance-driven environments to deliver results. Thus, exceptional financial management is required in the current complex, dynamic organizations. Some of the two most competitive career options chosen for this essay are accountants and financial analysts.
Financial analysts (investment analysts or securities analysts) offer direction to corporates and individuals in making investment decisions. Analysts’ value to the company is derived from their abilities to assess performances of different financial investments, such as stocks and bonds, to assist the management in making data-driven decisions. They typically recommend investment portfolios, assess financial data, evaluate economic and business trends, review firms’ prospects, evaluate the management team’s strengths, and write reports.
More importantly, analysts can work across various industries and firms, including banks, mutual funds, securities firms, pension funds, insurance companies, real estate, and other businesses. Financial analysts are required to possess a bachelor’s degree from finance, statistics, economics, accounting, or mathematics. Further, analysts interested in the securities industry should have the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) certification, while others should have the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) certification or other necessary certifications for advancement (Association for Financial Professionals, 2017).
For success, analysts are expected to have analytical, communication, computer, decision-making, mathematical, and detail-oriented skills. The U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that the demand would grow by 11% in the next decade due to increasing economic activities, competition for talents, and big data. This growth is faster relative to all other occupations reviewed by the Bureau (U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2017b).
Another career of interest is accounting. Accountants prepare and review financial statements. Generally, they add value by examining financial records to determine their accuracy and compliance with laws and regulations, computing taxes, prepare tax returns, and remitting tax payments to authorities on time. In addition, they ensure that companies use accepted accounting standards, examine accounting books for errors, and ensure efficiency in accounting procedures. Further, accountants are the custodians of financial records, help management to make decisions and recommend methods to cut costs, and to increase revenues and profits (U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2017a).
Most positions need a bachelor’s degree in accounting or any other related field, but professionals with a master’s degree are preferred. Bookkeepers, clerks, and accountants with associate degrees may qualify for junior positions but advance based on their expertise and experience. The essential skills needed for success are analytical, mathematical, detail-oriented, communication, and organizational skills. They need licensing, certification, and registration by different relevant bodies.
The U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics (2017a) approximates that between 2016 and 2026, the field of accounting will grow by 10% faster compared to all other occupations. This demand would be driven by globalization, growing economies, emerging complex tax regimes, and regulatory conditions. It offers growth prospects, and professionals can become supervisors, managers, or partners.
A financial analyst is the recommended career option. This option is growing faster than the accounting one. Additionally, one can fit into different institutions, including banks, pension funds, investment firms, fintech, securities firms, and other related businesses. Financial analysts start in a specific investment area and advance to senior positions to manage a wide range of a firm’s portfolio. Moreover, new opportunities brought about by the big data phenomenon are now available for financial analysts. Overall, all these career options are exciting, but individuals who possess relevant qualifications and work experiences and have excellent communication, interpersonal, analytical, mathematical, reporting, and detail-oriented skills will realize outstanding personal and professional growth in finance.
Association for Financial Professionals. (2017). About AFP. Web.
U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2017a). Accountants and Auditors. Web.
U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2017b). Financial Analysts. Web.