A work-life balance and a sense of achievement are traditionally the two requisites for most entry-level graduates searching for a career. However, an increasing number of ambitious graduates are now beginning to seek a lucrative career in finance.
Finance offers many opportunities for people to specialise in. Moreover, these high-paying occupations are in a variety of areas related to finance, including accounting, advising, corporate careers, Fintech, infrastructure, and investments.
Financial structures underpin the global economy, fund businesses, companies, and startups which contribute to job growth and, in turn, growing economic development and trade. Increased trade leads to heightened competition, which successively leads to the growing demand for jobs in the finance sector.
In this guide, you will learn about the best paying jobs in finance, their pros and cons, and whether your personality is likely to fit the mold.
What personality is suited to finance jobs?
You may be wondering why a career in finance is now on the cards for many who seek entry-level finance jobs and whether this is the sort of career path for everyone?
Since financial services are famous for providing some of the highest-paid positions for new graduate applicants, many grads fresh into the labour market are seeking to maximise their earning potential and put to use their finance or business degree.
First of all, it must be ascertained there are certain personality traits suited to the best paying jobs in finance and those of that alike in the dominance hierarchy. Employees in these well-paid positions are normally first to the punch and often first to finish. Workers in highly paid finance jobs will often demonstrate hyper-conscientiousness, fluid intelligence, and a high level of tolerance towards stress.
In addition to having strong analytical and numerical skills in this vocation, you will also have to be willing to put in up to 70 hours a week, if not more. People who are genetically wired up in this manner cannot bear to sit around doing nothing; they have dedication, energy, and commitment.
Almost all jobs at the top of the dominance hierarchy in finance involve people who have a preparedness for potential fluctuations in their careers and can make complicated decisions within short time horizons.
The study of Camgoz, Karan, and Ergeneli reveals that to be a successful hedge fund manager, you must be highly extroverted, self-confident, have intellectual curiosity, and the ability to consider unconventional approaches.
5 Best Paying Jobs in Finance
1. Investment Banker
Job Description: The three main areas an investment banker deals with are corporate finance, debt capital markets, and equity capital markets. Pay in this field is often performance-related. Thus investment bankers possess a keen financial mind in conjunction with a knowledge of how money is made and invested.
Their responsibilities entail managing the portfolios of businesses, governments, and institutions that invest in a number of different businesses. However, they may additionally advise and lead management buyouts, raise funds, stipulate strategic advice to clients, and identify new deals. By managing corporate, strategic, and financial opportunities, they can enable clients to raise and invest capital to reach their financial goals.
2. Financial Software Developer
Average salary: $107,669 per year
Job Description: Firstly, if you aspire to work in financial software development, you need to be extremely intelligent and enjoy solving technically difficult problems. Financial software developers, who work in the growing financial technology (FinTech) space, create programs that meet the needs of financial institutions and end-users.
In contemporary enterprises, financial organisations place substantial demands on their IT systems as traders, asset managers, and analysts rely on technology and software applications to do their jobs. Systems put in place by FinTech will aid finance workers to analyse huge amounts of data swiftly, make quick decisions, and support millions of trading activities every day.
This career is an option for graduate computer scientists who desire to work in financial technology but who do not necessarily want to work for a bank. Additionally, a finance job working, for example, with FinTech, overlaps a number of other professions meaning there are no limits on how far one can progress up the ladder for career development in either technical or managerial positions.
3. Personal Financial Advisor
Average salary: $89,330 per year
Job Description: In a nutshell, a personal finance advisor is a finance professional whose primary function is to advise and consult both individuals and businesses on managing their financial assets.
Regarding individual clients, the personal finance advisor typically provides advice on investment planning, credit needs, insurance, pension, tax, and similar matters, seeking to increase individuals’ wealth and help them achieve their financial objectives.
By the same token, financial advisors can help businesses attain their financial goals and give a second opinion on investment projects, particularly by providing accurate insights and assessing the risks and the profitability of future business developments.
Accordingly, an ability to have a holistic financial oversight and synthesize the key financial information and excellent people skills are a must in this type of career. Successful personal financial advisors must be prepared to be fully committed to their clients by having a personable demeanor and willingness to maintain regular and routine relationships to address financial concerns and issues there and then.
On that account, in this vocation, it is common to work around clients’ schedules, often providing consultations during unsociable hours. On the other hand, if you manage to build an excellent reputation as a financial advisor, both intrinsic and extrinsic rewards can be substantial, making it worthwhile to pursue such a career.
4. Hedge Fund Manager
Average salary: $85,096 per year
Job Description: Hedge fund managers monitor the operations of a hedge fund, so essentially they perform similar tasks to investment bankers but work with higher risk and reward portfolios for investors. It can be an attractive career option because of its potential to be extremely lucrative, as with great risk comes great reward.
Decisions involving capital are made by moving funds on behalf of their clients using aggressive investment strategies. They oversee markets to protect investors, waking up at the crack of dawn and staying late in the office burning the midnight oil into the early hours. Certainly, managing a hedge fund is not a career that follows the usual 9-5 working hours.
Do not be misled by the title ‘manager,’ as it can make it seem like the position is curtailed in the investment facility. Managers are actually more like the CEOs of the fund. They usually own them outright and are entitled to all the profits they earn.
A portion of the profits from their investments is taken beside a performance fee for investing well. As hedge fund managers are generally so good at what they do, they are one of the most well-paid positions in the industry.
5. Financial Risk Analyst
Average salary: $81,590 per year
Job Description: Financial risk analysts stay ahead of the curve by identifying economic trends and advising clients of the potential risks threatening the assets, earning capacity, and organisations in their sectors.
Clients and businesses are comprehensively advised of the most optimal ways to invest their money and extend their operations. Financial analysts also ascertain a company’s value and assess financial risks. They will subsequently make recommendations to reduce or control risk, which may involve an insurance policy.
Unlike some careers, becoming a financial risk analyst does not require a degree. That being said, a degree in accountancy, economics, finance, and the law would stand you in good stead and give you a perceivable advantage over other entry-level graduates.
What are the PROS of finance jobs?
As stated previously, the jobs are extremely well-paid, with entry-level finance salaries averaging at $88,774 a year, according to the job-search website Glassdoor as of January 2021. Bear in mind the most lucrative careers are often the most competitive, with the reason for this clearly being the money.
There is a wide diversity of actuarial roles and specialisations in the finance world, including insurance, regulation, and banking positions. In the near future, business and financial occupations are expected to grow by 5% on average for all occupations, thus creating 476,200 jobs in the process by 2029. Globalisation, economic growth, and a complex tax and regulatory environment are expected to continue to lead to strong demand for careers in finance.
The key advantages to take away are as follows:
- Many finance professionals have a high level of job satisfaction;
- Finance employers encourage graduates to climb the career ladder;
- Excellent salary;
- Diverse opportunities;
- Business networking.
Finance jobs in financial software development companies are often based outside the major business centers. The growth in financial software development outside of the main economic hubs means that more opportunities now exist for graduates who want to work in this sector but do not want the expense of commuting, working, or living in these financial centers.
It must be noted that there are directors at corporations across the financial industry who entered an organisation on a graduate scheme and progressed through a hierarchy, bearing in mind that not all of them possessed a qualification in finance or a related subject. Therefore, this is an encouraging outlook, as it illustrates that it’s not necessary to hold a degree to excel in this industry.
What are the CONS of finance jobs?
Since finance jobs revolve mostly around the economy’s success, the job availability and the number of job losses fluctuate depending on how healthy the economy is. Most employees will be expected to work at the weekend as deals approach crucial stages – fourteen-hour days are not unusual, nor is working up to 100 hours a week during busy periods.
There are entry-level jobs in finance, for example, accountancy, which does not require a degree, and it is possible to work your way up the ladder. Nevertheless, one must be careful not to end up in a back-end finance job, cold calling, as well as hours upon hours of data entry.
If the monotony of these positions does not beat you down, the lack of growth opportunities these occupations possess certainly will, on top of adding little value to your finance career.
These are the key downsides one must be aware of:
- Long and often unsociable working hours;
- High stress;
- A need to meet quotas;
- Continuous education.
On the one hand, Goldman Sachs boss David Solomon says ‘go the extra mile’ to his employees, while on the other hand, first-year bankers at investment bank Goldman Sachs have asked for an 80-hour workweek cap claiming they often get as little as 5 hours sleep per night. There is a disparity underpinned by entry-level finance jobs and the messages coming from those at the top of the hierarchy.
In a survey, which was conducted by a “self-selected” group of US-based first-year entry-level investment banking analysts, it was stated that “The sleep deprivation, the treatment by senior bankers, the mental and physical stress… I’ve been through foster care, and this is arguably worse”.
“This is beyond the level of ‘hard-working’, this is inhumane/abuse,” was another response to the internal affairs inquiry. All of the persons interviewed said the job had negatively affected their relationships with family and friends, while 77% said they had been subjected to ill-treatment within the place of work.
Is a career in finance for you?
Now you have to ask yourself the question: is a career in finance for you? A path that is rich in every sense of the word. A finance career can take you in many different directions, depending on your interests.
Opportunities are copious, and plenty of benefits lay in wait, providing that you enjoy numbers, statistics, and analytics, of course. Some careers have better advancement opportunities, while others offer more variety in case monotony sets in.
Many financial jobs offer commissions and bonuses, which can easily become 6 digits in income. Furthermore, with continuous training programs and certifications to be collected along the way merging into other fields related to finance is possible.
A better work-life balance and greater flexibility with business hours could await if you were to go down the self-employed route, which allows you to take on your own clientele.
If you enjoy the challenge of working with intelligent yet demanding clients, have a desire to work with very smart and like-minded individuals, and want to use current technologies then this industry could be for you.
To conclude, it is vital to remember that even at entry-level, jobs in the finance sector pay much higher than the median US salary.
Where to apply for jobs in finance?
For those out there who are pursuing a career in finance and want to get a foot on the first rung of the ladder, read our in-depth guide on finance internships, which includes the list of 50 intern jobs with direct links to apply. Good luck!