Choosing a career path is one of the most challenging decisions a person has to make in their life. While it’s in no way binding or irreversible, choosing a field to work in has a substantial impact on our everyday experience.
Unfortunately, there are a lot of prejudice surrounding careers in finance. For many people, working in the field stands synonymous with stuffy suits, a cutthroat playing field, and zero work-life balance. And sure, some workplaces do come with all of these negatives. But for the most part, these are just myths created and sustained by Hollywood.
Are you finding yourself at a crossroads regarding your professional future? If that’s the case, here are the top reasons you should (and shouldn’t) consider a career in finance.
Let’s address the elephant in the room first.
Most people believe that working in finance comes with a big fat paycheck. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case.
While some positions do promise higher (much higher) incomes than the average, the majority of people working in finance won’t exactly get rich overnight.
According to All Business Schools, the highest median annual salary comes with the financial and risk management career paths, and it ranges between $100,000 and $120,000. Of course, you might make it all the way to the top and become a CFO of a company. In that case, you’re looking at an average figure of $520,000 per year. Or, possibly, much more.
Nonetheless, there’s a limited number of CFO positions to apply for. So it’s not a bad thing to look at worst-case scenarios, just in case. On average, a sales agent will make around $67,000 per year. On the other hand, a financial analyst can expect to bring home north of $81,000.
If you find monetary compensation to be a strong motivator, then a career in finance definitely is worth considering.
If you’re looking for a job field that will provide security, finance definitely could be it for you.
Young people who are starting out their careers often back away from positions in finance. This is because they see it as a competitive field. And yes, that is true. According to LinkedIn, there are more than 1.3 million financial analysts and 3.5+ million accountants worldwide. But there’s one more statistic to take into consideration: the number of roles in the finance field is projected to reach a 10% increase by 2026.
What this means is that, despite the evident competition, young people opting for this career path today can expect to have job security in the future.
Of course, if stability is your top priority, then doing the bare minimum won’t cut it. If you’re after security, it’s crucial to expand your horizons as much as possible.
Invest in personal and professional growth opportunities, and look for ways you can differentiate yourself from your competitors. You can do this by learning a second language, learning how to work with complicated software, or working to become an expert in your niche. After all, no matter your career, having that one extra skill can make the difference between landing your dream job vs. being just one in a sea of candidates.
One of the benefits of pursuing a career in finance is the number of options you have at your disposal. Whether you prefer to work with people or would rather spend your time problem-solving, there are numerous niches of the finance industry you can explore.
Of course, most sub-fields will require specialized qualifications or licenses. Nonetheless, you can still easily direct your career path according to your personal interests and strong points.
If what you’re after are lucrative undertakings, then corporate finance, investments, or trades offer a lot of advantages. By studying your field and finding patterns, you can make bold moves and enjoy positive results.
Of course, these jobs come with high levels of risk as well, so you need to ensure you’re OK with a little bit (or a lot) of excitement before you go down this path. Furthermore, corporate jobs often require personal sacrifices, as you’ll probably have to put in more work hours than the average Joe.
On the other hand, a career in finance can also allow you to pursue other interests. You can apply for finance positions in industries you find exciting. From health to tech to culture, all organizations need to have financial staff on hand, which means that you can use your knowledge and experience to contribute to the fields you’re passionate about.
There are other ways a career in finance can play to your affinities.
If you’re a people person, you might want to give commercial banking ago. Or, if you’re looking for maximum control over how (and where) you spend your time, you could decide to work freelance or on a contracting basis as an advisor. Moreover, venture capital allows for some pretty exciting opportunities. It involves working with small and medium-sized businesses and advising them on financial steps that will bring the desired rewards.
4. Social Impact
Although a career in finance does not jump to mind when thinking about professions that make the world a better place, there is, in fact, a great deal of good you can do by pursuing this path. In addition to financial power, which you can choose to generously share with those in need, a position in the industry can also allow you to contribute to causes directly through your work.
Impact investing is becoming a growingly popular career path for socially conscious people. At its core, it is the practice of financially backing and helping the growth of companies whose activities are beneficial to social and environmental issues. The most popular areas to invest in include nonprofits and eco-tech. Still, healthcare, agriculture, and education also make for viable candidates.
5. Benefits and Work-Life Balance
There are numerous benefits to working in finance, and among them, it’s important to mention that this is one of the rare careers that prepare you for an enjoyable retirement. With often generous healthcare and retirement plans in place for employees, a job in the financial industry won’t just equip you with the basics of a prosperous life. It will also provide you with the skills to boost your wealth and comfort so that you can thoroughly enjoy them once the time comes.
But even before getting to that golden age of tropical cruises and bingo nights at the local seniors center, a finance career track can also ensure a well-balanced present.
Compared to professions with similar median annual salaries, most (there are, of course, exceptions) positions in the industry require standard work hours. And, unless you decide to go into forex trading or happen to work with foreign partners, you can expect to work nine-to-five, with holidays off and often generous PTO.
These perks haven’t got you convinced?
Perhaps it’s not a bad idea to look at the research comparing the work-life balance of entrepreneurs, freelancers, and employees. It turns out that those who are employed by someone (as is the case with most finance professionals) enjoy higher satisfaction levels over multiple areas of life. These include health and sleep, as well as a higher median annual income.
With these perks in mind, it becomes clear that those looking for a well-paying job without the stress and sacrifice of entrepreneurial undertakings definitely might find what they’re after in the field of finance.
6. Travel Opportunities
If you want to see the world and meet people from all over, then getting a job in the finance industry might just be the right choice for you. While some positions will be location-bound, others will definitely give you a chance to explore all over. For the highest number of travel opportunities, consider becoming an investment banker, financial analyst, or advisor. Moreover, you can opt for a freelance career path and work remotely from any corner of the world.
But even if you prefer the security of working for an organization, you will still find plenty of positions that include overseas travel. And in these workplaces, you’ll get the added perk of working with people from all over. This isn’t just exciting but an excellent learning opportunity as well.
7. Job Satisfaction
Last but not least, we must also consider the fact that monetary compensation and perks aren’t the only factors impacting how happy you will feel at your place of work.
Studies that explore job satisfaction often point out stability and work-life balance as key factors. But, they’re not the only relevant contributors to work happiness. Experience has shown that most people want to spend their time working on something that matters. According to research, purpose and meaning play equally important roles in people’s satisfaction levels. They’re so impactful that they often trump salary, organizational structure, and even job difficulty.
And a career in finance definitely offers ample opportunities to create purpose and value in a job.
For one, the results of a financial department are measurable. This means that those working in the field have ways of seeing progress, and, what is more, they can set attainable goals. When it comes to motivation, these goals will require innovation and creativity, both of which drive engagement.
Secondly, people who opt to go this path will spend their days working towards solutions to multiple challenges. They’ll have numerous responsibilities and will often be asked to use their problem-solving skills in new and creative ways.
Moreover, many tracks of the finance career involve working with medium or large-sized teams. This allows for added incentives by introducing a social aspect to one’s workplace, thus boosting the employee’s sense of belonging.
Why a Career in Finance Isn’t for Everyone?
While there are many reasons why a person should consider a career in finance, it’s important to note that it’s not a path for everyone.
Most prominently, positions in the field of finance often come with high pressure. In fact, aside from medical and research positions, finance professionals tend to report the highest levels of workplace stress. And, yes, there are effective ways to mitigate job-related stress. But, not everyone knows how to cope with it in the long-run. This eventually leads to severe physical and mental health consequences.
If you’re bad with deadlines or simply prefer to be in control of your work hours, then a career in finance definitely won’t be the right choice for you.
Another downside of working in this field is that, on top of a college diploma, you will also have to invest in continuous learning. Financial employees don’t just have to keep informed about global trends, happenings, and tendencies. They also have to be prepared for continuous learning throughout their careers. Furthermore, working in certain fields will require obtaining special licenses, which could be seen as a challenge by some individuals.
Finally, there is one more downside to choosing the financial career track.
Although often challenging and exciting, most jobs in the field tend to be repetitive. For some people, this means comfort and security, but for others, it equates to boredom.
Are you a thrill-seeker who is always looking for something new to learn? Don’t want to spend your career doing the same things over and again? If that’s the case, you will want to go into a different career or, at least, choose one of the more unpredictable positions.
Even though the field of finance is often perceived as stuffy or boring, these descriptions are just stereotypes.
A career in finance is an amazing choice for a large number of people. Not only does it offer stability and monetary compensation, but it’s also a path that offers growth and learning opportunities. And for many people, these are some of the leading contributors to job satisfaction.
As with any other career, there are downsides to working in finance. It can be stressful and repetitive, and it may require personal sacrifices, especially in top-tier positions. Nonetheless, if you’re excited about the prospect of working in the field, these obstacles shouldn’t be a reason to abandon your goals.