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Top tips to have a successful career in finance

by Sellick Partnership | 14 March 2018

Accountancy is a thriving and competitive sector and can be extremely lucrative for successful candidates if they remain focused and determined to succeed. That being said success can often be difficult to achieve. Here is a quick list of some steps you can take to position yourself for success within financial services. 

Have confidence in your own ability from the start
Confidence provides a foundation for acceleration in nearly every aspect of finance, and is the single most important soft skill candidates should work on. Candidates must be confident in their ability to move a company forward and harness a willingness to put their company and team at the forefront of everything they do. A great way of doing this is to put yourself forward for new projects, promotions and mentorships etc. It is also important to celebrate every success no matter how small to keep yourself motivated and engaged to succeed. By aligning yourself with senior finance professionals and learning at every step in your career you can prepare yourself and build your confidence, technical ability and soft skills all at the same time.

Never lose momentum
The journey to becoming qualified can be a long and often laborious one, and it is important to not lose momentum. Many candidates feel they need a break, or choose to slow down after months and often years of hard work, but it is important to persevere. Candidates need to ‘strike while the iron is hot’, and secure a role quickly after qualifying and continue their journey within the sector. Candidates already in a role should use this time to further develop their skillsets in preparation for their next move in order to remain competitive in the current candidate-led market.

Be prepared to make mistakes – and learn from them
A role in finance is challenging, and most candidates will make a mistake at some point in their career. It is extremely important to learn from these mistakes, and ask questions on how to avoid them in the future. Candidates who make mistakes, rectify them and learn from them will develop faster, and have a better knowledge of the sector long-term. Not only will this increase your skillset, but it will also give prospective employers an indication of how well you manage difficult situations, a skill that is essential for modern day finance candidates.

Develop more than just technical ability
Having a wider understanding of the business, and having the soft skills needed to shape the commercial and strategic decision-making process of the organisation is an essential skillset – especially in finance. Finance leaders are expected to be able to make key decisions, drive business performance and analyse market or industry trends. Therefore candidates should invest in these skills in order to be successful. It is never too early in your career to be commercially minded, and developing this skill early will make you a much more attractive candidate from the offset.

Chase opportunities not cash
Experience is vital in this sector. Candidates with relevant sector experience and specialist knowledge are much more attractive to clients that those without. I would therefore advise all finance candidates to get as much as experience as possible, especially if they are aiming to secure a managerial position during their career. This should take priority rather than looking for roles with an above average salary. A good place to start would be to look for an internship or junior position at a bank or an accounting firm, or in the finance department of a large company. This type of experience will count in your favour when you want to advance your career in the sector long-term, and will go some way in helping you achieve those higher salaries when you are more experienced. 

A final piece of advice is to expect the unexpected. Being fully prepared will ensure candidates are ready to embark on their new career path. Depending on the role finance candidates may be required to meet targets, liaise with clients and work long, busy days. One thing is certain, a career in finance for any candidate will require an enormous amount of attention to detail, a logical way of thinking and a passion for numbers, so ensuring you are ready for an exciting, busy and challenging journey is essential. 

A career in finance has so much to offer a young ambitious professional and while this list is not exhaustive, it does offer a well-defined and tangible route for success, with special consideration for the fast-changing landscape of the finance sector. 

If you are interested in a career in finance and think you have what it takes you can get in touch with me by calling 0161 834 1642. Alternatively you can view more tips on developing your soft skills by checking out our candidate resources section.