By Georgina Fuller Career The secret perks of working in finance 5 May 2016 The days when working in finance was seen as a perfunctory, grey, back office job are long gone. A career in financial services can now be a gateway to a number of dynamic and diverse industry sectors and offer a challenging and fulfilling vocation for life. It can also include working with people from or across lots of different countries and cultures and often requires you to think creatively and constructively rather than just sit in a stuffy office and work through spreadsheets. Door opener Richard Trueman, managing partner of Mitchells Chartered Accountants and Business Advisers, says that accountancy is about much more than just number crunching. “Some of the key benefits of working in finance are gaining the skills that are needed across every single business, institution, authority and, just as importantly, personal and family life,” he notes. “Accountancy is certainly not just about figures and balance sheets. It’s also about communication, people interaction, persuasion, strategy and people management, which is why a career in the field is seen as a ‘door opener’”. Obviously you do need to have a good grasp of maths and figures but you also need to have an analytical mind and excellent communication skills, says Trueman. “Accountancy has such a wide breadth of career paths that I would recommend anyone looking to forge a career within the sector to keep an open mind,” he notes. Rather than trying to specialise too much in one area in the initial stages, you should try and develop your skills across a range of areas. “Try to ensure you receive as wide a breadth of training and experience as possible to gain a better idea of what you do and don’t like,” advises Trueman. Flexibility The flexibility of finance and the scope this gives accountancy professionals is also a big plus. Pretty much all companies have a finance department so accountants can, in theory, choose a company that fits their cultural values and interests. Andrea Popeau Thomas, career consultant at the University of East London, says there are a number of essential characteristics that a successful finance professional needs to possess. “They generally need to be well organised, diligent, methodical, calm and have the ability to brand themself as the go to person and someone that can develop early on an air of authority,” he notes. You will also need to research what options are available to you, get some expert advice and consider what sort of company you would ideally like to work for. Versatility Chris Morling, managing director of money.co.uk, advises getting some work experience. “Get as much work experience as you can before applying for your first job. This will really set you above the rest and if your degree isn’t directly related, you’ll need to prove that your skills are transferable,” he comments. It’s also important to research what options are available to you and the type of business you want to work for. “Working for a large bank is going to be very different experience to working for, say, an IFA which, in turn, is miles away from working for a comparison site such as money.co.uk. You don’t have to be a specific type of person to work in finance either, according to Morling. “You don’t need to be from a particular background and you don’t necessarily need a degree in economics. Our website, for example, looks for marketers, developers, researchers and writers.” There are a number of key traits which a successful finance professional should, however, possess. “These include good communication skills, great problem solving skills, curiosity and the ability to be proactive and keep up to date with industry and legislative changes. Having a good sense of humour isn’t essential, but it certainly helps!” says Morling. Morling says that working in accountancy often gets a bad press but that it’s actually completely unfounded. “Working in the finance sector might appear dry to outsiders, but money is central to all our lives and being able to make sense of it for people through our guidance is what drives our team,” he notes. “Seeing how the future of banking and money management tools are evolving is fascinating and can give you a true insight into how our habits as a nation are transforming over time.” There is also an altruistic aspect to working in finance which can often get somewhat overlooked. “Everybody is affected by money and therefore everything we do could help somebody. The number one benefit from working in this sector is the fact we help people to achieve their lifelong goals,” says Morling. Georgina Fuller is an award winning freelance journalist and editor.