Most professions in the financial industry require a finance or business degree, but what if you don’t have one and want to work in this field? While getting a career in finance with a non-financial degree is more challenging, there is always hope.
Every business wants employees who are clever, devoted, and driven to do a good job. A finance degree will teach you financial modeling and analysis, but it may not teach you the skills you need to succeed in practically any field, such as communication, problem-solving, and time management.
The following are ten techniques to show potential employers that you have the talents they are looking for in an employee as well as the enthusiasm required for a successful career in finance.
We will rank each of these based on the difficulty of acquiring it (for example, enrolling in a financial course is simpler than securing an internship) as well as the beneficial influence it may have on your goal of pursuing a career in the finance business.
Learn the Language
There is no excuse for not understanding Wall Street jargon if you want to work in finance. If you don’t know the difference between dilution and dividend, or between NPV and DCF, consider studying financial words and ideas by perusing the large Investopedia vocabulary or reading The Wall Street Journal.
A non-finance graduate may find it difficult to pass the preliminary interview stage if they do not understand financial terminology. Regardless of school background, an interviewer will normally presume that an applicant for a financial position is educated about finance.
Complete Your Education
What if you earned a degree in anything other than finance? You may always improve your condition by enrolling in appropriate undergraduate or postgraduate courses with a focus on finance or business.
Undergraduate courses in economics, accounting, or financial analysis are excellent choices. Many post-graduates choose an MBA because its significant financial component levels the playing field between finance and non-finance graduates.
If the high expense of the MBA deters you, alternative choices, such as enrolling in the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA®) Program, are also worth considering. The CFA is granted after completing three hard tests that assess graduate-level financial theory and practical expertise on one’s own time.
Participate in a Financial Boot Camp
Intensive courses offered by companies such as Wall Street Prep and Training the Street may teach you important skills for a job in finance, such as sophisticated spreadsheet procedures and financial modeling.
These crash courses are highly expensive, generally costing a few thousand dollars, but they have the advantage of not requiring a long-term time commitment because they are typically held over a few days. One disadvantage is that, because of the intensity of these programs, you may need to be conversant with fundamental financial principles to get the most out of them.
Increase Your Knowledge
Relevant information cannot be attained just through a college education. There are several tools available to help you improve your financial knowledge, whether through your local library or online. The course providers may offer these materials for free or at a cost.
Make use of a Trading Simulator.
Trading simulators are available on a variety of websites, including Investopedia, and may be used to create simulated portfolios. Using a trading simulator forces you to monitor the markets and stay up-to-date on market movements. This is a terrific method to impress a potential employer with your trading skills, or at the very least your market awareness, with very little investment on your part other than time.
Complete Industry Training
The Canadian Securities Institute, for example, provides a relevant industry license course that not only confirms your commitment to a career in finance but also gives you a competitive advantage in terms of work preparation.
Of course, this option may not be accessible in all jurisdictions; for example, most license tests in the United States need sponsorship by a member company or a self-regulatory group.
However, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) has developed a new exam known as the Securities Industry Essentials Exam (SIE) that may be taken without sponsorship.
Keep a Financial Blog
Starting and maintaining a financial blog is an excellent way to share your investing ideas with the rest of the world. It is an opportunity to impress a potential employer with your wide skill set, which includes financial acumen, communication abilities, and technological proficiency. This method of self-marketing is best suited for individuals who already have some of these abilities.
Connect with a Mentor
Another strategy to get a financial career started is to connect with a mentor. A mentor may be someone in a position of authority who believes in your skills and is ready to assist you in achieving your goals. Your favorite college professor, a family member or cousin with a successful career in finance, or someone you know professionally, such as a supervisor from a past internship, are all possible mentors. Don’t be afraid to approach a person who you believe could assist you in your job search.
Obtain an Internship
Summer internships are still one of the best ways to land a prominent full-time job in finance, since many Wall Street businesses employ their summer interns. After graduation, an estimated one-third to one-half of MBA students at the leading management schools proceed to work for their summer job.
Because gaining a paid internship in finance is likely to be difficult for a non-financial graduate, alternative possibilities, such as an unpaid internship or voluntary work with a broker, must be considered. The increased earning potential of a financial job may eventually outweigh the opportunity cost of unpaid internships or voluntary labor.
Make every effort to get your foot in the door.
Target human resources departments for resumes, broaden your job search to other regions, and check your network for openings—in short, do all you can to get your foot in the door of a financial institution. Obtaining entry-level employment in a financial firm, even if it is in a non-finance capacity, may open doors to alternative career routes in finance later on.
How many banking internships are hired?
According to industry statistics, around 70% of banking interns who complete all of their required obligations will be hired. That may appear to be a positive figure, but keep in mind that even getting an (often unpaid) internship at a financial business is difficult. In 2022, Goldman Sachs received a record 236,000 applications for student internships worldwide, including 79,000 in the Americas. Only about 35,000 people (15%) are accepted.
Some non-finance degrees are undoubtedly in high demand on Wall Street for specialized roles, such as:
- Structured goods, derivatives, and quantitative trading require physics and mathematics.
- Algorithmic trading and platform development rely on information technology.
- Engineering, mining, and sciences for industry research and investment banking
However, for the great majority of non-financial degree holders, finding a career in finance will be difficult. This is especially true given that banks and financial firms cut thousands of jobs in the aftermath of the 2008 global crisis.
Bureau of Labor Statistics, “Employment Levels by Industry, Seasonally Adjusted.” Using a mix of the ideas outlined above, a non-financial graduate should be able to significantly increase his or her prospects of establishing a career in finance.