A career in the financial industry

By Feby Francois


We live in a money-driven world. What happens in the financial world affects your life directly or indirectly. Hence, a career in finance should be seriously considered when deciding what path to take.

Think again before you say, “I’m not a numbers person.” Almost every skill set is needed in the finance industry, with multiple divisions and departments. Did you major in English literature? You can use it to your advantage.

To learn what it takes to break into the financial sector, we spoke with an industry veteran who has been recruiting for 20 years. As well as tips for college students and recent graduates, as well as those looking to make a career change.

Degrees Aren’t Everything

The degree you need is a college degree. However, the degree itself is less important.

How do you define it? Wells Fargo’s Senior Vice President and Talent Acquisition Manager, Brian Drake, emphasizes the importance of excellent communication and relationships. It’s not necessary to get certification unless you’re interested in an area like accounting.

In our business, there are certain degree paths expected of you, but a surprising number of degrees can be earned and still be successful. “Criminal justice was my major,” Drake explains.

Think twice before saying “I’m not qualified.”. In order to succeed, you need to have strong interpersonal skills, analytical abilities, and problem-solving skills. The nitty-gritty details of these skill sets are often taught on the job, although they may sound generic. You should also explain your current situation, what skills you have acquired, and your career plans if you’re not right out of college.

How to get started

The financial services industry is a great entry point for recent graduates. Getting into financial services requires many of the same qualities as getting into college, including internships, extracurricular activities, and well-roundedness.

Don’t forget to polish your resume. As Drake suggests, be realistic about what jobs you are applying for and be selective.

If there are a lot of applicants, each resume will probably only get a few seconds of attention. Tell a clear, visible story. Applicants should be selective and not serial applicants. The biggest turnoff for us is someone who isn’t self-aware,” he says.

Making the switch to industry

A network is your best friend if you are considering making a career change into finance. Find someone who might be able to help you get your foot in the door, ex: Feby Francois, whether it’s personal or professional. Ask them to coffee and discuss your intentions.

Drake is in agreement. I cannot emphasize enough how important it is to manage your professional and personal networks. Take advantage of that. A great book for your career is The Start-Up of You, a book by LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman. Invest in yourself and network the right way.”

You may find that you need to make a lateral move rather than expect a promotion as a mid-career shift. Think about whether you are really willing to go that far.

You will also need skills that you possess (such as communication and analytical thinking) for a career in finance. How many of these do you have in total? What about the ones you don’t know? Will you take the time to learn them? It would be wise for you to think about times in your career that you’ve needed and used these skills effectively and be ready to talk about it in a future interview.

Keep a positive attitude if you decide to take the plunge. Drake says that you may even make a bigger step forward in the future.