How do you know if Banking and Finance is the sector for you? We sum up the 7 key attributes you need if you want to excel in this sector.
If you comb through the vast numbers of career websites you'll find a plethora of information on what the Banking and Finance sector can offer you and the skills you need if you want to make it in this field. But you also need to know whether you have the innate qualities to succeed, so here we have distilled our top advice into 7 key attributes.
1. You thrive when competitively challenged
Working in the Banking and Finance industry tends to be fast-paced, competitive and challenging. Obviously the level of pressure can vary depending on which area of the industry you are based in. However, whether you're a front office trader or ensconced in the back office domain making sure everything works how it should, most people entering this sector love a challenge.
Day to day, you'll be surrounded by people who relish working in a global sector that drives so much of our economy. The industry is littered with confident, dynamic minds who thrive in tackling the daily challenges the sector throws at them.
2. You enjoy problem solving & have a head for numbers
Whilst you do not need to be a mathematical genius, working in this sector does mean you'll spend a lot of time handling, crunching and thinking about numbers. Even if you're in a marketing or client relations role, numbers are at the heart of Banking and Finance. You'll need to be comfortable with dealing with them on a day to day basis - be that handling the nuances of a particular deal, mastering a set of financial accounts or communicating their impact to a potential client or existing customer.
3. You are analytical and logical
If you're analytical and logical you have the kind of mind that graduate recruiters look for when recruiting top talent into banking and finance. While of course such skills can be honed and finessed over your career years, it is highly likely that you will be tested on this at the application stage - usually in the guise of psychometric tests.
If you're logical and analytical, when it comes to solving a problem or thinking about something, you'll tend to be someone who does not rely on intuition. Rather you'll take a step by step approach to break it down from a macro level to a micro one, until you arrive at a solution you feel is right. You'll also be someone who is not unnerved by seemingly impossible-to-answer interview questions such as: 'How many people fly in and out of Heathrow every day.' Like everything else however, you can train your brain to be more analytical and logical - regardless of what you have studied.
4. You have good commercial, financial and business instincts
Money makes this sector go around - and the people at its heart have a vested interest to make sure it performs in the way that they predict/want/need. As such, a sound understanding of what factors might affect the area in which you have specialised is vital. Global finance leaders need to have an impeccable ability to think strategically, both in the short and long term and as such commercial acumen is key. You'll be interested in knowing how to fine-tune your commercial instincts and the best way to do this is to do as much work experience as possible.
5. You have an eye for detail
So much of your role for the first few years in banking and finance is to analyse numbers and crunch data. You'll often be part of the team that puts together the information the senior minds in the business need to present to potential and existing clients. A meticulous eye for detail is therefore a much valued skill. Over time you will become better at this but possessing care and attention for the small stuff is required in this sector.
6. You can prioritise and stay focused
The hours in this sector are amongst some of the longest - you'll need to possess the ability to focus well beyond the 9 to 5 thresholds. You'll have the stamina to keep going and juggle competing tasks. Again, this is something that you can learn as you go along, but you'll be expected to handle this from day one. The rewards and responsibility can be great if you get it right - and if you're not afraid of hard work now, you're almost there.
7. The world of finance and money interests you
While the word 'passion' gets thrown around a little too freely these days, if you enjoy what you do, the chances are you'll be better at it. No one is expecting you to spend every second thinking about the global economy, but at the very least you'll be happy to spend a spot of time reading about stocks and share prices and dipping in to the economic and business sections of the broadsheets. It's a fast-moving sector and you'll need to stay up to date across the detail.