Accountancy might not be the first profession graduates think of in the financial industry but it’s a hugely popular job, well-respected, and well paid. Accountants look after financial records and create reports for clients on income, expenses, profits, losses, and tax liabilities, as well as provide advice.
Corporate, governmental, and public accountancy firms are options, in addition to self-employment. It is an industry governed by frequently changing rules so accountants need to be able to keep up to date with complex regulations.
Finance degree needed? No. Depending on where you live and work, you will need a bachelor’s degree and an additional professional qualification. In many companies, you can gain that as part of a graduate scheme.
One of the less well-known financial careers and very well paid, actuaries also have very interesting positions – analysing the likelihood of impact events and calculating the financial risk of those events for insurance companies, marketing managers, underwriters, investment bankers, and pension directors, among others.
It requires a range of skills, including maths, analytics, software, problem-solving, and communication skills.
Finance degree needed? No. A maths-related degree is a requirement but not specifically financial.
3. Financial Analyst
This position is perhaps what most graduates aspiring to a career in finance are thinking of. Financial analysts assess companies, economic trends, and entire industries and anticipate financial risks and opportunities for investors. They also build financial models, conduct complex quantitative analysis, and produce reports detailing their research.
Financial analysts often specialise in one area or industry but it is possible to generalise too. They tend to work for consulting firms, insurance companies, investment companies, and other corporate businesses.
Finance degree needed? No, although a bachelor’s degree in business, economics, finance, maths, or statistics is usually needed. Some maths-intensive courses will also make you eligible.
4. Personal Financial Advisor
This job title is fairly self-explanatory. You provide financial advice to individuals, usually about areas such as insurance, investments, mortgages, pensions, tax laws, and tax planning. It’s a position that can cover a wide range of approaches, from risk-averse to high-risk, and short-, medium-, and long-term. It’s a position that lets you be self-employed although many prefer to work in firms.
Finance degree needed? No. Personal financial advisors usually need a bachelor’s degree and a specialist certification is sensible. In many countries, financial advisors have to complete specific training and hold a licence to provide advice.
5. Credit Analyst
At a simple level, credit analysts assess the risks involved in offering a person or company a loan. Of course, it's much more complicated than that, involving analysis and interpretation of data on major industries and wider global trends that might impact a loan's standing as well as scrutinising the legitimacy of financial information provided by clients.
It is a career that also requires high-level communication and interpersonal skills, to gain information from prospective clients and convey conclusions to colleagues.
Finance degree needed? Usually yes; or a related degree.
6. Budget Analyst
Budget analysts help public and private institutions to organise, monitor, and adjust their finances, preparing reports and recommendations on current or future expenditures. It's a role that allows applies the principles of finance to educational, governmental, and not-for-profit sectors (although there are also many jobs in the business sector).
It is another role that requires strong communication skills but it also often needs leadership and training skills so that staff can be trained in new approaches and processes.
Finance degree needed? No. A relatively broad range of bachelor's degrees might suffice for a career in budget analysis, including accounting, business, economics, finance, political science, public administration, sociology, or statistics.
7. Commercial Real Estate Agent
If you want to try something a little different but still use your financial acumen and expertise, commercial real estate might be for you. It can be high-pressured and, with salary usually based on commission, it can be risky (agents are usually advised to have a back-up fund covering 6-12 months' worth of expenses). However, it is also potentially extremely lucrative. The complexities of commercial real estate as well as the hands-on relationships with clients combine intellectual and interpersonal challenges in one profession.
Finance degree needed? No, although it is likely to help. A certification is usually required.
8. Investor Relations Associate
Another option for a career in finance that focuses more on soft-skills than maths is investor relations professionals, who prepare and present financial information about clients to other analysts, business media, and investors. It is a career that requires excellent communication, interpersonal, and organisational skills, as well as a deep understanding of finances and comfort with certain software tools.
If you enjoy financial analysis and building client relationships but want more stability than commercial real estate, this might be a profession for you.
Finance degree needed? No, although it would likely be beneficial.
9. Forensic Accountant
Forensic accountancy applies knowledge of accountancy practice and analytical skills to investigate fraud or embezzlement and to find financial information suitable for use in a court of law. They assess and quantify damages through data collection, data preparation, data analysis, and reporting.
It is a profession that can involve examining business records, historical evidence, and journal entries, managing private detectives, as well as tracing flows of funds and interviewing relevant parties. Forensic accountants often also act as consultants or expert witnesses.
Finance degree needed? No, but an accountancy certification is required.