All industries have their common misconceptions, but none more so than finance. For many people, the concept of working in finance immediately brings to mind an image of The Wolf of Wall Street, with shady investment bankers screaming down the phone while their lackeys run around doing all the legwork. In reality, however, finance incorporates as wide a range of careers as any other trade, with each profession bringing their own distinct talents to the industry. Financial corporations therefore need to hire employees from a broad base of skill sets and backgrounds by necessity, even requiring those who might not immediately appear to lend the relevant experience.
In a nutshell, actuaries are employed to assess the financial risk of any given transaction, taking into account a range of factors to predict the most likely outcome of any deal. These predictions could depend on a huge number of variables, ranging from factors such as the socio-political and economic atmosphere of any relevant countries, to the risks of volatile natural disasters tearing through a given territory. Actuaries know better than anyone else that the smallest variable could have devastating effects on even the most airtight transactions, and so their work is vital to maintaining a sense of trust in the industry. In order to find success as an actuary, you need to have great foresight and keen mathematical skills, as all risks, no matter how small, need to be accounted for. Actuaries often specialise in areas such as insurance, pensions and consulting.
For as long as there has been money in existence, there have been accountants to take care of it. Far from merely watching over money as it accumulates, accountants are essential in recording and analysing accounts to ensure stable financial growth. Accountants are most often hired by companies on a renewable basis (annually, for example) and are primarily useful in insuring against financial risk or even possible breaks in the law. Accountants are also valued for their ability to increase efficiency across departments, advising companies on where their money is possibly being wasted, and how it could be better spent elsewhere. Accountants tend to either work in- house, being exclusively responsible for one business or corporation, or work as part of a specialist accountancy firm, to be hired when they are needed.
Investment bankers are probably what most people think of when they hear the word ‘finance’. They are the stockbrokers and traders who buy and sell huge assets for profit, either for themselves or for wealthy clients. Investment bankers require a large range of skills, but chief among these is the ability to foresee any possible risks involved with each transaction, and quick analytical skills to be able to make a finite decision at top speed. The risks involved with every transaction can be monumental, but the rewards can be enormous, with the average graduate investment banker having the largest starting salary of any profession.
Image courtesy of:
“City of London skyline from London City Hall – Oct 2008” by Diliff – Own work.LicensedunderCCBY-SA3.0viaWikimediaCommons