The finance industry is tough, but do the pros outweigh the cons?

The finance industry can be tough to compete in, but if successful, you stand to garner higher wages, plenty of opportunities to advance professionally, and the chance to work internationally. However, this career path isn’t all benefits—there are some less than savory aspects of the industry to consider.

Skills Needed for a Career in Finance

Different jobs require different experience, knowledge, and specialization, but they all require special skills. Here are a few skills that you must have or acquire to be successful in the financial industry:

  • Analytical.  The ability to analyze is integral to any position in the finance sector.  This is because you’re not only gathering data, but you are also interpreting it.  What do all the numbers mean? You’ll be tasked with answering this question regardless of what role you seek.
  • Strategic.  Those strong in strategy will be able to not only interpret data but create a plan for their employer to move forward.  This requires an ability of foresight—a hard-to-hone skill that is important for this industry.
  • Communication.  Financial concepts can be complex, but you’ll need to be able to effectively communicate your findings to employers and clients. Therefore, it is necessary to find ways of breaking down complex information into bite-size pieces that a layman can understand.
  • Discipline.  You must have a strong sense of devotion and discipline. Not only is getting into the industry difficult, but the prerequisites can turn off many prospective candidates as well.  Four years to get a bachelor’s degree, several more to get a master’s degree, and sometimes several more years beyond that to earn licensure is a huge commitment.

Pros

With all that said, you may be curious as to what the payoff actually is for those that achieve all of these things and finally make it in.  Here are a few of the pros of working in the finance industry:

  • High Income.  The potential for a higher income is strong in the finance industry. As you gain experience, you are more likely to gain a six-figure income.  Many in the financial industry also make commission, which also bolsters the bank account.  For example, according to GlassDoor the national average for a financial analyst is about $63,000, and varies slightly depending on the city or state you live in.  It is not unusual for a financial manager to make six figures, and this promised compensation can entice individuals from a variety of disciplines to pursue a role in this industry.
  • Potential for Growth.  If you can surpass the hurdles of gaining entry, then the potential for growth that point forward is excellent.  You are likely to progress quickly to higher positions and even eventually establish your own firm.
  • High Demand.  Unlike other jobs, such as teaching, where demand fluctuates over many years, accountants are always in high demand.  A stable career in finance is highly likely. Consider the finance job listings at FinancialJobBank.com.
  • Variety.  Again, those looking to try their hand in the many areas of finance will find that there is much to explore.

Cons

  • Stress.  Finance jobs follow a cyclical pattern of light to heavy workloads; the latter is especially prevalent during tax season.  Some jobs in the industry will require you to take work home with you as well, so depending on the job you may encounter a heavy workload.
  • Years of Study.  Earning your license is extremely difficult.  As mentioned earlier, it can take years of study exam attempts before you finally attain your license.  The best way to prepare is to first decide which license you want.  For example, if you want to be an accountant, you will likely have to earn a CPA, which can take many people years to accomplish. However, if you want to be a financial analyst, you will have to get a CFA.  Most people dedicate hundreds of hours of study to this challenging exam, paying for materials and CFA mock exams to better their chances.
  • Claims of Being a “Boring” Career.  If you are a personality that feels most comfortable with consistency, you are in the right career.  However, if consistency in your mind is synonymous with “monotonous” or “confining”, you might find this job stifling.  This has a lot to do with individual personality, and many people in finance either enjoy or tolerate the consistency for a great paycheck in return.

The finance industry isn’t for the faint of heart, but the right candidate can find untold success with the right mind and skillset. Consider these pros and cons and decide whether this role is right for you.

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This article is featured on behalf of Hank McKinsey.