Made up of various sectors including banking, insurance, investments, real estate, and consumer finance, the financial services industry plays a crucial role in the national economy. As banks prosper, they lend more and individuals earn more, so purchasing increases and the economy strengthens. However, if the industry weakens — limited capital, lower interest rates, and increased unemployment — recessions occur.
The financial services industry’s sectors are key indicators that provide insight into overall economic strength or weakness. Those interested in advancing their career in the finance industry can play an influential part in maintaining the strength of the economy.
Growth in the financial services industry
Financial management industry employment is expected to grow by 15% between 2019 and 2029 — much faster than the labor market as a whole — due to the increasing demand for financial, cash, and risk management services, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). As the economy grows, skilled professionals who can plan, direct, and coordinate investments will be increasingly in demand.
Additionally, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, corporations are working toward recovering and reorganizing their operations. A Business Research Company report estimates this will cause market growth of $2.1 trillion between the end of 2020 and the end of 2021. Similarly, as corporations earn more, experts in cash management will be in need.
Other industry trends are impacting financial services industry growth as well. For example, digital-only banks like Mint, Monzo, and SoFi are transforming the industry with ease of access for customers and increasing the demand for financial managers, according to Business Insider. And the complex regulatory environment overseen by agencies such as the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) fosters an ongoing need for professionals who can ensure investors are following laws and regulations.
How to advance your career in the financial services industry
The best way to position yourself to advance in the financial services industry is through three steps: earning a degree, networking, and continuing your education.
Earn a bachelor’s degree
The first step toward advancing in the financial services industry is earning a bachelor’s degree in financial services, accounting, economics, or business administration, according to the BLS. This can help individuals gain the knowledge and skills necessary to find long-term success. Such skills include:
- Analytical aptitude: Financial managers must evaluate data to help executives make decisions.
- Communication: Effectively explaining complex financial transactions is a key element of jobs in this field.
- Detail orientation: Precision is crucial to avoid errors in balance sheets and calculations.
- Mathematics proficiency: Higher education offers advanced knowledge in math concepts that are used in developing and comprehending financial documents.
Expand your network
Making connections with other professionals is a well-known way to open new career paths. Finding finance-targeted networking events in a specific sector can align an individual with the right contacts and opportunities. Knowing more finance professionals and having regular communication with them opens doors for advancement. These events and networking opportunities also help professionals stay up to date on trends and developments in the world of finance.
Connecting with other professionals on LinkedIn, joining online conferences like the Fintech World Forum, or attending in-person events as the world opens up are three ways to expand your network. FINRA offers multiple conferences — both virtual and in person — in a variety of sectors including small firms and financial technology.
Pursue additional education and certification
An advanced degree such as a Master of Business Administration (MBA) or master’s in accounting can give job applicants a significant advantage, according to the BLS. Additional certifications also convey expertise in the industry. Certified government financial manager (CGFM), chartered financial analyst (CFA), and certified public accountant (CPA) are three certifications that can lead to career advancement.
Some undergraduate and graduate degree programs help prepare students to sit for certification exams. For instance, Maryville University’s finance curriculum helps ready students to sit for FINRA’s Securities Industry Essentials (SIE) exam, which shows expertise in the securities industry for those aspiring toward careers such as securities trader, research analyst, or investment banking representative. To become a registered securities professional, an individual must pass the SIE, be associated with a FINRA member firm, and pass a qualification exam for their desired area of business.
Benefits of financial services industry career advancement
Taking the steps to advance your career can lead to a number of work and quality-of-life benefits.
The median salary of financial analysts is $83,660, and financial managers make $134,180 annually, according to the BLS. As individuals advance in their careers, pay may also increase. Salaries depend on the position, sector, and education and experience levels. For example, financial services professionals make $30,000 to $50,000 more annually after earning an MBA, according to Transparent Career. The BLS reports the highest 10% of financial managers make more than $208,000.
From corporate finance and financial planning, to investment banking and hedge funds, to insurance and public accounting, the financial services industry offers a diverse range of career paths. As individuals grow in their careers, they will find increased options. Earning an MBA or certification can open new paths, often with the opportunity to switch companies and sectors.
As finance professionals advance, they enjoy increased responsibility and independence, which are linked with employee satisfaction. Research has shown that those with careers in finance score 9.6 out of 10 in work satisfaction, according to the World Financial Review. Additionally, many companies in this field are known to invest in their employees, helping them build their careers — another key factor of job satisfaction.
What are some advanced financial services industry careers?
The financial services industry is broad, with a range of opportunities for qualified applicants. These are some of the sectors open to people with the right educational and professional experience.
Commercial banks, including large corporations and local institutions, offer a range of financial services to their customers from checking and saving accounts to mortgages and other loans. Job titles include operations manager, branch manager, and loan officer. Advancement can involve movement between branches and head offices, including the opportunity for international work.
Investment banks find investors for companies, facilitate initial public offering (IPOs) on the stock market, trade company securities, and advise corporations on investments. Career opportunities include qualitative research analyst, investment banking analyst, and executive director.
Professionals in corporate finance work with a company and manage their capital. This can mean forecasting profit and loss, negotiating lines of credit, and preparing financial statements. Individuals working in this area focus on increasing company value while minimizing risks. Jobs include financial analyst, treasurer, and internal auditor.
Financial planners work with large groups or small firms to review client goals and ensure future financial stability. They also create saving and investing plans for individual clients. Job titles include personal financial adviser, wealth manager, and personal banker.
Many paths, one satisfying career
Financial services industry growth means a range of benefits for those working in the field. The first step to a rewarding career in financial services is earning a bachelor’s degree. Maryville University’s online bachelor’s in finance program develops students’ finance insights and marketing skills. Courses such as Principles of Management and Consumer Behavior offer graduates an understanding of how financial planning and marketing together drive success. Pursue your professional goals with us at Maryville University.