Job satisfaction is the most important aspect of work life. It is usually derived if one practices what one likes, which also implies that the profession is in line with one’s passion/ hobby. To substantiate the above statement, there is a live example of a prominent personality who followed this pattern -the famous Cricketer Sachin Tendulkar, who always wished to become a famous cricketer and dedicated all his vigor towards achieving his dream. Thus, it is important to identify one’s interest areas, competencies and alongside analyzing the pros and cons of a career stream before finally opting it.
Like any other sector, the financial services sector also offers a good deal of opportunities for all those potential candidates who possess rich interest and knowledge in managing finances of general public or corporates. Organizations in this domain are always in search of candidates with a firm conviction. Such candidates could be from varied educational backgrounds. Postgraduates/graduates in commerce, economics, finance, mathematics, MBAs, CFPs etc. can choose to build their careers by working with financial advisory firms, mutual fund houses, insurance companies, stock brokerage firms, etc.
Monetary affairs, which are usually very sensitive are best handled by professionals who are adequately competent and fit for that role. Especially with investment services firms, knowledge plays a very crucial role, where one wrong scheme selection might lead to undesired outcomes like loss of client’s money, which in turn might damage the reputation of the company. Therefore, companies prefer hiring candidates with relevant qualifications and certifications \who could capably understand the needs of the clients, mathematics of investing and possess the knowledge of growing people’s finances. In such cases, postgraduates (including MBAs) with added certifications like NISM/IRDA are preferred. Also, courses like PGDFP (post graduate diploma in Financial Planning) or CFP (Certified Financial Planning) are given preference over other certifications. For positions in Research profiles, CFAs are best suited.
Apart from the above qualifications, a candidate needs to have service orientation and zeal to always act in the client’s interest. He/she must possess qualities like honesty, trustworthiness and should adhere to ethics and values, rather than just being a pure investment advisor or a service provider. A detailed understanding of the Capital Markets too is very essential.
The functional areas in mutual fund companies would include sales and marketing, fund accounting, investment and research, operations and administration. A job aspirant can either become an advisor or a financial planner. Once he gathers four to five years of experience, he could climb the ladder to become a research analyst and later, perhaps a fund manager. As a fund manager, one has to have portfolio management skills and must possess knowledge of various asset classes to take calls on buying and selling.
Working as an intermediary is a career option too, but only after clearing an exam conducted by the Association of Mutual Funds in India (AMFI), called NISM Certification now. Graduates with NISM Certification could explore work profiles like business development managers, relationship managers, or advisors for the marketing and distribution of mutual fund schemes.
Then, there are other business support functions such as fund accounting and IT/network support. The compliance functions in mutual funds and brokerage firms also recruit candidates possessing a law degree or a company secretarial degree. The line of work is also open to NCFM-certificated candidates, the examination for which is conducted by National Stock Exchange (NSE). Various stock exchanges, commodity exchanges and market entities such as NSDL, SEBI and power trading exchanges also have job openings at various levels.
As far as stock broking firms are concerned, one can work with institutional investors as securities traders, securities analysts, advisors or dealers. Brokers also work with banks, MF, pension funds, insurance companies and other FIs or individual clients. Small time stock-brokers perform the combined roles of researchers, equity and investment analysts and even financial advisors.
Companies engage equity analysts for the purpose of market research, so that they can suggest profitable investment options. These analysts do the valuations and track the companies’ financial performance. Then, there are investment analysts who analyze the financial reports of companies and study market and company statistics, stock performance, assess financial results and suggest long/short-term investment options.
Investment Banking is another sought after profession by most of the Finance graduates/ postgraduates. A Certified Financial Planner (CFP), MBA Finance or C.A from a top institution is always the preferred entry route. Investment banking is known for the highest salaries and for recruiting the best candidates. This job demands tremendous analytical skills, ability to understand and apply modern forecasting techniques, along with good communication and presentation skills.
Insurance industry has too come a long way now. Career in insurance does not merely mean a selling activity anymore. This sector requires domain technical knowledge and only job aspirants with core insurance competency can grow in this career. After privatization, insurance companies have understood that insurance is not a FMCG product and one must possess technical skills and fundamental knowledge to exist in this market. Servicing is the key for growth and thus domain expertise is very important. For new entrants in this field, graduation with specialized diploma in insurance domain like underwriting, claims, motor, health, liability, aviation, bancassurance, reinsurance, engineering insurance, agricultural insurance, marine insurance etc. is extremely helpful. It is beneficial if one keeps on enhancing his/her skills with time, perhaps by adding a few diplomas from various streams of insurance. As you grow with experience, this academic excellence and expansion will improve the employability and scope of promotions and growth.
Ultimately, whatever you choose, you must definitely have a deep interest and knowledge in that particular domain. In Financial Services, growth is not only a function of hard work or smart work but also about regular up gradation of knowledge and service orientation towards protecting and growing the nation’s wealth!