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How to Take Your Career in Finance to the Next Level

You’ve been rocking your entry-level finance position, but what’s on the horizon? Entry-level jobs aren’t the beginning and end of your career in finance. They’re just the start of something very exciting. So, what’s the next step in your finance job? There are so many career paths you can take. A bank teller has a real opportunity to become an investment banking analyst. If you’re a junior tax accountant, you could eventually open your own private business.

The possibilities are endless, but you need more than just drive and determination. You also need more experience under your belt. Start thinking about your future with this career advancement guide for 2020.

Take Financial Courses

Education is the first step on the corporate ladder. Fortunately, there are several educational paths to take. To start, you could pursue an associate’s degree or bachelor’s. Junior colleges and 4-year universities have many finance courses. To save money on tuition, enroll in a finance degree transfer program at your local community college.

Undergraduate finance courses run the gamut, from financial accounting to fundamentals. Courses may cover investment management, international finance, and government finance. Most finance BAs also require courses in economics, history, and math.

Some entry-level jobs don’t require degrees in finance. However, a degree provides a strong foundation to work with. They’re especially helpful when pursuing professional certifications in finance.

Get Certified

After getting your first entry-level finance job, start thinking about certifications. Professional certifications will help you compete in a crowded field. You can also add them to your resume and Linkedin profile to grab the attention of recruiters.

There are a lot of certifications out there, so focus on your chosen career path or strengths. You have CPA certifications for accountants, certifications for underwriters, FRM certifications for financial risk managers, and more. You’ll need to pass rigorous exams to earn your certification. That’s another reason to earn a degree beforehand. You can also take preparation courses, like an FRM course or CPA class. If you’re lucky, your employer may even pay for you to go back to school!

Enroll In an Executive Development Program

Another way to climb up the corporate ladder is to work for a company that does just that. Some corporations have executive development programs that train promising financial leaders for high-level positions. This is an excellent option for recent finance graduates.

Expand Your Professional Network

What do you do when you have all the education you need? You start networking! Take this opportunity to improve your communication skills, elevator pitch, and social media networking. Upload your resume to job-seeking sites so recruiters can find you. Start with popular career sites like Indeed, Monster, Glassdoor, and Simply Hired.

Join Linkedin

Start by creating a Linkedin profile. Linkedin is the #1 social media network for professionals. You can add your resume, education, publications, accolades, business headshot, biography, and volunteer experience. Your connections can post written endorsements to your profile and endorse individual skills, like accounting, communication skills, and leadership. Once you complete your profile, start building those connections. Start with colleagues you know, like stockbrokers, portfolio managers, or analysts. Once you have your “first-tier” connections, expand your network. Many connections will come to you. You don’t have to accept every invitation. It’s best to connect with those in your industry. However, you may want to break into other industries, like non-profits, eCommerce, or government. Think about where you want to go with your career in finance and let that guide your networking strategy.

Stay on the Cutting Edge

The financial sector is broad. If you want to build a thriving career, you need to look forward. Think about the innovations generating the most buzz in your field. Big data, financial technology (fintech), and mobile apps are leading the way. These sectors are ideal for tech-savvy finance professionals. In fact, it wouldn’t hurt to take a coding class or two to make yourself more competitive for these careers!

Companies like PayPal, Acorns, and SoFi are some of the biggest winners of the fintech boom. Bookmark their career pages or follow their job postings on Linkedin to stay updated on openings.

Discover Your Entrepreneurial Side

With a talent for finance, you already have a headstart in business. That’s why finance professionals are ideal entrepreneurs. You understand the importance of budgeting, ROI, and impeccable bookkeeping. With fintech on the rise, this could be your opportunity to build a startup of your own. Think about a financial problem that needs a solution. Customers are always looking for more convenient, affordable, and accessible financial solutions.

One area that’s generating a lot of buzz is alternative banking. A sizable portion of the population doesn’t have a traditional bank account. These consumers want alternatives that save money and build credit. Automation is another exciting financial trend. Financial entrepreneurs are using automation to generate investment recommendations, just like real financial advisors. Automation helps crunch numbers faster, send and receive money quicker, and manage multiple investments with ease.

You also have to think about personal branding if you choose the entrepreneur route. You need consumers, colleagues, and investors to view you as a finance authority. Start building your brand by posting on reputable blogs or writing pieces for industry publications. You can even upload your published work to Linkedin!

Remember to build a website. You need a digital “hub” that attracts potential clients, readers, and media contacts. Once you’re an authority on finance, you can sell books, branded products, and online courses. You could even break into public speaking.  

What Does the Future Hold for Your Career in Finance?

Your ambitions are bigger than your entry-level job. Use these tips to craft a career advancement plan. Planning is essential for a flourishing career in finance. Do you have all the resources you need to land your dream job? Research is key to discovering your career path. Bookmark these tips and check back often for the latest advice for ambitious job-seekers like you.

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