How to Break Into the Field of Finance/Accounting
Finance and Accountancy are amongst the most lucrative career paths today, with a consistent upward trend in demand and with a vast array of specialisms, especially following significant regulatory changes following the latest major political and economic events. As a recruiter in the field, I work with companies and candidates to help them navigate the market and overcome its current challenges. If you’re considering shifting careers into finance, below are some important observations that can help you.
Analyse your quantitative knowledge
The first step to consider is to sharpen your numerical and quantitative capability. Careers in Finance will typically start with either STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) qualifications, Finance and Accountancy and/or Economics. If you opt for a career in Accounting outside the academic spectrum, courses such as AAT can provide some technical foundations.
Work on your technical skills
Like all things in the field of exact sciences, there is no room for subjectivity – you will have to acquire strong technical skills and display these clearly. Interviews in this field will be technical and you should be prepared to elaborate on numbers – ability to estimate, code and calculate within the specific areas you choose. Excel-related tests are often common and most roles in the field will rely on Excel formulas heavily, making excel an indispensable tool.
“I have a numerical degree but I’m not getting any interviews”
If you come from an unrelated field and are breaking into Finance, the best approach is to tailor your CV adequately to highlight your relevance. Eliminate or keep non-financial experience to a minimum on your CV and focus on displaying the tasks where you had your hands on the numbers. Typically, candidates will start from the bottom and work their way up, taking on roles that support finance to some extent. A few examples are “operations and finance assistant” or “Admin and Finance”. These roles are often more generic but will involve finance-related tasks. When adding these experiences to your CV, you should predominantly focus on financial tasks and leave admin and generic tasks out.
If your current admin role has a considerable finance load and you’re not getting called forward to Finance roles you apply to, it is possible that your CV is too admin-heave and you’re not elaborating on your Financial skills enough. Relevance is key!
Do your homework
Study financial media and be informed of what is happening in the market. Make a list of the top 20 companies you want to work for and dive into their numbers. Check out their finances, turnover and general performance on companies house. Be informed of their market value and any significant events that impact their finances – mergers and acquisitions, competition, technological breakthroughs, etc. You should also know the people in charge – especially the Chief Financial Officer!
To do that, you can follow different platforms that write on finance topics, like The Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, The Economist, etc. LinkedIn is a valuable source of information – not only you can browse on the People section and get to know teams and their trajectory, but the main feed is often where the company shares their latest corporate updates, along with internal promotions, recognition, events, a look into their offices and their everyday life. These elements provide a great deal of insight into their culture, how they treat and interact with employees and what life on the inside looks like!
In the end
Last but not least, having a solid set of soft skills, like communication, problem-solving, and leadership, will certainly strengthen your resume, raising your chances to break into the field successfully.
If you’re thinking of taking the leap – get in touch with email@example.com