What Career Paths are Available in Finance?

The financial service sector is one of the most interesting and dynamic in the US, employing 933,700 people as of 2016. Finance and insurance made up 7.3% of US GDP in 2016, equaling an enormous $1.4 trillion. This sector creates jobs both within and indirectly in other sectors. Huge firms and high investment has led to large growth in the sector and it promises to be one that many candidates will want to be employed in. Employment in finance does not just mean Gordon Gekko-style personalities clashing over huge deals – there are a number of different career pathways to follow in this sector.

Commercial banking

Commercial banks are the ones that ordinary people use to deal with their finances, so this is a sector in which you will deal with a wide variety of people and businesses. They offer a range of financial services including checking accounts, savings accounts, IRAs, and loans. Career options in this sector include customer service positions like bank tellers and financial advisers. You could also become a loan officer or even a bank manager. This is a sector in which you do not necessarily need to be good with numbers because banks need to be managed and administrated. Marketing is also another area that you can get into with commercial banking. You can rise up to corporate commercial banking and even international commercial banking if you stay in the sector. If you want to press ahead and advance in this sector, then you can take a step up by getting finance certifications through a training course in person or you can get certified online.

Investment banking

This is the glamorous sector where individuals can deal with huge amounts of money and become involved in big deals. As an investment banker, you will be dealing with clients and help them to make the best possible investments. These people also work in capital markets to advise corporations and assist with mergers and acquisitions. They also conduct underwriting – this is when the risks of deals are managed and assessed by buying the securities from issuers and selling them to the public. Typically, investment banking careers start with graduate jobs, so consider them when doing a degree. WallStreet Prep explains investment banking with their in-depth guide, so if you want to know more check it out.

Corporate finance

This involves working for a large company in its finance division and being responsible for finding sources of capital while also managing existing resources. You need to be able to assess risk so that you do not lose any of the company’s money. You also need to be able to forecast profits and losses based on strategic decisions and prepare reports for the strategy team.

Financial planning

This is a job area which involves helping individuals and businesses by advising them on financial issues. The issues could include loans, tax planning, financial goals, saving plans and estate management. This is an area where you need to be well-versed in financial services while also being good at communicating with a wide variety of people. Certified Financial Planners are the most in-demand because they have the qualification that required them to have three years of financial experience and to pass several exams.


This is a sub-sector that deals with an enormous variety of clients and issues, from life insurance and medical insurance to business and asset insurance. There are two main areas of insurance you can go into, actuary and underwriting. Actuaries assess and manage the risks of insuring a particular person, business or asset based on the situation. You must use probability and financial theory in order to work out the risk. The other main area is claims. Claims advisors decide whether or not the insurance company should pay out when things go wrong. You can start off in this industry as an insurance sales rep or an insurance risk assessor.

Hedge fund management

This is an area of finance which deals with largely unregulated private investment funds where managers buy and sell assets and financial products, based on their return and risk potential. Portfolio managers make decisions to buy and invest, based on past market data and their own intuition. Dealing with large amounts of money, this is a job that requires data analysis skills, decision making, and creativity.

It is clear that the financial sector offers so many avenues for careers, from glamorous investment banking or hedge fund management to rewarding financial planning and commercial banking. Careers that require a wide variety of different skills and qualifications mean that this sector is open to many different candidates.

FG Editorial Team
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