You feel like a cog in the wheel at your current job, and you’re sick of going nowhere fast. You know you have the natural talents and abilities to go places . . . you’re just not sure which college major will take you there. One thing is for sure: you need to escape your slow-moving job and find a high-powered career where you’ll have the competitive edge and the recognition you deserve.
Not all careers are right for someone with your competitive streak and perpetual drive. The world of finance is one field that will take your natural abilities and reward you with a career worth bragging about. But not everyone can hack it in this field.
So how do you know if you have what it takes to major in finance? We spoke with finance experts who are sharing exactly which skills you need to get ahead in this competitive industry. If these characteristics sound familiar, you might be a natural winner in the world of finance!
You should consider a career in finance if …
Finance majors need a specific skillset if they want to achieve success in this dynamic industry. Take a look at this list to see if you have what it takes!
1. You enjoy (friendly) competition
It’s no secret that the finance world is intensely competitive. Unfortunately, some finance majors try to take that competition too far. Don’t become so drawn into the competition that you forget you’re on the same team as your coworkers.
“Many who enter finance think they need to take down their ‘competing’ associates in order to advance themselves. Those are the people who will never last,” says Alexander Parker, chairman and CEO of the Buxton Helmsley Group. Instead of trying to take down your coworkers, focus on playing to your strengths to boost your entire team’s success.
2. You’re resilient
“Having the ability to shake things off quickly is valued highly by employers,” says Rahul Ray, Principal at Burr Capital, LLC. A career in finance comes with heavy responsibilities and plenty of ups and downs, which is why Ray says it’s important to stay optimistic.
It can be easy to get overwhelmed by stress and negativity when investments don’t turn out the way you expected. A successful finance major will be able to learn from their mistakes and continue moving forward to help their clients and their company.
3. You’re eager to learn
Finance is a fast-paced field with a steep learning curve. You don’t have to know everything your first day on the job, but you do have to put in the effort to learn and to keep up with the quick-moving environment, according to Elle Kaplan, CEO and founder of LexION Capital.
“What really matters is how you approach and learn the unknown,” Kaplan says. “Someone with a ‘get stuff done’ attitude will be eager to tackle and take on anything, rather than waiting for training or being told to accomplish it.”
4. You have stellar communication skills
Financial discussions can get complicated. Whether you’re explaining to a client exactly what’s happening with their money or you’re brokering a complex financial deal, you need to have solid communication skills to keep the process moving smoothly.
“Keep it simple,” recommends Ronald Sinai, founder and COO of Nova Legal Funding. “Deals in any financial field are only as confusing as the person delivering the message.”
5. You have integrity
It’s easy to get swept up in doing whatever it takes to rocket your career to the top. But investors and clients need to know they can trust you—especially when money is involved. Financial professionals should always be honest and stay true to their word.
“A good reputation is essential to long-term success,” says Cory Burnell, CIO of BluePrint Asset Management. Never sacrifice your professional integrity—it will pay off in the long run!
6. You can stay calm in the midst of crisis
Working in finance can be chaotic. Finance majors should be prepared to encounter difficult and stressful situations. You may feel like panicking when the market plummets, but you’ll have much more success if you can keep yourself (and your clients) focused on long-term goals.
“While many clients will get caught up in the waves of the market, it's your job to keep your eye on the prize—the long-term financial growth of your client,” says Andy Brantner, CFP and investment blogger at Start Investing Online. “Be that rock for your clients and don't make any rash decisions.”
7. You’re detail-oriented
A small typo might not matter in some industries—but an extra zero or a decimal in the wrong spot in a financial spreadsheet is a big problem! The financial world runs at a fast pace. A successful finance major can keep up without compromising the accuracy of their information.
“It is easy to get lost in the sea of tickers, the fast pace of the job, and being pulled in fifty different directions at once, but it is crucial to know exactly what you are doing and do it right the first time,” Parker explains. “Attention to detail is paramount.”
8. You’re a natural problem solver
Finance professionals deal with problem solving on a daily basis, from negotiating a deal to determining the best solution for a client. You’ll stand out above the crowd if you can show your employer you have the critical thinking skills to handle tricky situations.
“Closing a deal in finance often requires creative problem solving,” Sinai says. He adds that in certain situations, solutions are reached with creativity rather than a technical understanding of the issue at hand. The ability to think about issues in innovative ways will distinguish you from others.
Do you fit the bill for a major in finance?
It’s clear by the descriptions above that not everyone is meant to major in finance. It takes a unique variety of skills and characteristics to excel in this cut-throat career.
But if you can relate to a handful of these traits, you just might be up for the challenge! If you’re ready to leverage your natural abilities and take the financial world by storm, learn more about some exciting career opportunities in finance!
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