The financial sector is a lucrative sector for professionals or upcoming professionals at any stage of their career. Depending on the company that you work in, the financial sector can mean great economic benefits and job security for the long term.
Several thousands of new graduates dream of a well-paid job in the financial sector to provide for their needs and live a comfortable life. The financial industry by itself is a group of several sectors held loosely together.
From banking to wealth management and from stock market broking to tax advisory and consulting, all these different fields belong to the financial sector. Naturally, the qualifications required to get a job in any of these sectors can often be completely different from one another.
To get a job in the finance sector, the first step is to determine which one of its subsectors you are most interested in working in. This may be done at different stages during your life – specific subsectors are more open to early-career professionals than others.
Once you have done so, you can start to go about looking for the required certifications that will qualify you for a job in this subsector.
5 Certifications for a Job in the Finance Sector
There are hundreds of certifications that qualify you for different jobs in the financial industry. Here is a walkthrough of five major types of certifications that people often opt for.
1. Financial Analyst Certification
Financial analysts are hired by investment banks, mutual funds, consultancy firms, hedge funds, and other similar companies as experts in fields like portfolio and wealth management and advisory.
They are expected to have wide expertise in areas related not just to finance but to economics and banking as well. They apply this expertise and their experience to the analysis of non-traditional assets in the financial sector.
Given the wide range of expertise required to be a financial analyst, it is only evident that the necessary training to become one would also be rigorous. The Chartered Financial Analyst, or CFA certification, is the preeminent qualification required to become a financial analyst in any subsector of the financial industry.
The CFA program is very selective and has three different levels that you need to pass before you qualify as a CFA.
The CFA certification is provided by the Chartered Financial Analyst Institute in the United States. The CFA exam tests your knowledge of the fundamentals of fields like investment tools, wealth planning, and portfolio management.
2. Risk Management Certification
Risk management is a large part of the financial industry and is required in every one of its subsectors.
A risk manager is required to assess and provide a quantitative and qualitative overview of the risks associated with decision-making in a firm, such as market risks, operational risks, and credit risks. The manager does so through a combination of research, modeling, and data analysis.
The Financial Risk Manager, or FRM certification, is granted by the Global Association of Risk Professionals, or GARP. To be granted this certification, you are first required to complete rigorous coursework, after which you need to sit for an exam based on this coursework spanning two parts and eight hours.
This coursework is revised nearly every year in order to keep certified professionals up-to-date with the latest trends in the area.
Nearly all significant banks and financial firms recognize the FRM certification by GARP as an essential requirement for new risk managers. You can also apply for further certification by GARP after completing the FRM certification.
3. Grant Writing Certification
Grant writing is an understated but significant part of the regular function of any financial firm. Grant writing entails professionally completing applications for financial grants from institutions such as government departments, private parties, or foundations.
While grant writing seems like a simple task of completing applications, a certified professional grant writer will know the most efficient way of ensuring that grant applications are not denied or kept on hold.
Unlike the previous two certifications, there are no formal institutions that provide grant writing certifications. In fact, the best grant writing certification can be obtained online, through several portals. Universities such as the University of South Carolina and Portland State University also offer grant writing certifications.
4. Compliance Certification
The financial sector is highly regulated globally, and rightly so, for it deals with the hard-earned money of individuals and directly impacts the lives of every person.
As a result, financial firms need to hire employees and officers to ensure that their decisions align with the laws and regulations of the government, markets, and governing financial institutions.
Compliance officers are expected to have deep insight into these laws and regulations and have the expertise to enforce them at a company-wide level.
The best compliance certification is the Certified Compliance and Ethics Professional, or CCEP certification, provided by the Compliance Certification Board, or CCB. The CCEP is updated every year, and all compliance professionals of different batches have different coursework to prepare.
As a CCEP candidate, you are required to choose a niche or industry in which you would like to operate, though it is also possible to be a general compliance professional through the CCEP-I.
5. Accountant Certification
An accountant is an essential member of the lives of individuals and the payrolls of firms. This is because accountants prepare the tax returns of individuals and firms and can also be their primary advisors in tax-related matters. They are also the representatives of taxpayers before tax authorities.
The preeminent accounting certification is the Certified Public Accountant, or CPA certification, provided by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA).
The CPA certification represents extreme rigor and expertise and is coveted by many banking professionals to get a move on in their careers. After a CPA exam, you also need a CPA license to offer your services as a public accountant.
Education is never in vain, regardless of which stage of your career you are pursuing. The above certifications can be really useful in helping you change sectors to finance or get a promotion in one of the subsectors of the financial sector itself.