Aspiring for a Career in Finance? Here are Some Things that Would Help You Prepare

The Glitz and Glamour of Finance Beckons Many

Many management graduates and those working towards entering business schools often aspire to be financial professionals and dream of being an investment banker, private equity specialist, stock analyst, or a pure play banker in the plain vanilla banking.

Indeed, with the globalization of finance and the integration of the global economy, finance is much in demand as a career choice for many among the contemporary generation of Millennials.

This is also due to the glamour and glitz associated with finance wherein the images of suited and booted bankers strutting about on the global stage like the “Masters of the Universe” which they are often referred to as.

For instance, many aspiring management students and graduates look at the gleaming and shining lifestyles and bankers and decide to be one of them so that they can shine as stars earning accolades and make humungous amounts of money in the process.

Banking and Finance are not All Milk and Honey

However, aspiring financial professionals need to know that finance and banking are not all “Milk and Honey” and there is much hard work and leg work to do, especially in the first few years or the first decade of a career in finance.

Indeed, though Investment Banks lap up fresh management graduates and then pay them fat salaries, the initial assignments are as much about putting the nose to the grind and working hard on financial modeling and quantitative financial analysis until the time the recruits are ready to work on actual deals.

For instance, it is not uncommon for fresh Investment Bankers and Equity Analysts as well as Private Bankers and Stock Traders to literally “carry the bags” (or in other words, go to meetings with the material and the reports being carried by them) and takes notes of what transpires.

If you think that we are exaggerating, ask any seasoned financial professionals, and they would tell you the first years in banking are indeed hard for anyone what with the work hours extending to dawn and the expectation of being at work the next day on time irrespective of how late one has worked the previous night.

Prepare for Longer Hours, Fatigue, and Even Jetlag

Having said that, we are not discouraging you since pretty much any profession entails leg work and plain being in the background initially.

Indeed, even in Consultancies and other management positions, until one settles down, one has to literally “Earn the Spurs” before one is allowed to take center stage.

However, the difference in finance is that since the profession involves sums of money in the Millions and Billions of Dollars, one needs to not only work hard but to maintain focus despite the grueling work hours and the punishing international travel.

Talking about travel, this is one thing that many aspiring professionals dream about as they see themselves having breakfast in one country and dinner in another country.

While this is certainly true, one also has to remember that Jetlag and fatigue are common and hence, any aspiring financial professional would be well advised to take their physical needs seriously and work out or avoid any kinds of addictions to the extent of even hot having too much coffee or sugar.

Preparing for a Career in Finance by Starting Early

Turning to the actual content and the preparation for careers in finance, for all those who are currently in business schools or are aiming to get into one, it would be better to read as much as possible about global finance and global banking.

Indeed, it would certainly help if you can subscribe to premium newsletters and sites on finance and banking such as the Financial Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Economic Times, and the Economist for the much-needed perspective that would hold you in good stead later on in your career in finance and banking.

It would also help if you can talk to seasoned financial professionals and be mentored by them till the time you are ready to reverse the roles and be guides for others who like you aspire to be at the same or similar positions.

This is one thing that premier business schools around the world do when they invite bankers and financial professionals to give pep talks and mentor the students in the hope that the latter can be inspired as well as be practical about their career choices by talking to the former.

Work on Quantitative Analysis and Modeling

In addition, if you are serious about banking and finance as a career choice, it would certainly help if you can work on quantitative financial analysis right from your undergraduate days as any career in finance needs excellent quant skills.

Indeed, many bankers are usually Chartered Accountants who have been through the grind that being a CA usually entails.

For those who are Engineers or do not have a commerce background, this advice would help greatly as starting on financial modeling, and quantitative analysis in business school means that you are behind those who have already been through such skills.

Start the Race with the Wind Behind You

Lastly, work on your resume as well as your soft skills including linguistic proficiency especially if you want to be an international banker or analyst since such roles often are based in Europe and Asia Pacific where being fluent in a language other than English often helps.

Apart from this, it is important to note that banking and finance are professions where after a few years, the race gets divided into the star performers and those who are steady with those struggling to keep up being left behind.

To conclude, before you begin the race, it would help to have the wind behind you and hence, we hope that you would take the suggestions offered here seriously.


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