Numbers Show Potential for Employment Growth in Financial Services

Posted By Kine' Corder on December 15, 2016 at 11:02 am
Numbers Show Potential for Employment Growth in Financial Services

Job openings in the U.S. financial services industry continue to outpace hirings, according to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics. In October, for example, less than 41 percent of the openings were filled, and unemployment in the industry is a paltry 1.8 percent, the BLS report says.

Those vacancies could become a good target for December college graduates and others. But it raises the question, of course, of how investment bankers or financial advisers get their start? Doing some research and testing to identify an individual’s career interest and abilities is a good first step.

The biggest misconception about working in financial services is that all employees must be good with numbers.  Not all financial services jobs require expertise in math. Whether job-seekers are big-picture or detail-orientated, there could be a place for them in the industry.

The banking end of financial services

Banking can be a good place to start. Whether the bank is big or small daily deposits and loans are what keep the bank going. Tellers, personal bankers, and loan officers are client facing, while underwriters and processors work behind the scenes. Most bank employees have a salary, and some have a small commission. Banks such as Bank of America and Chase will pay more, while credit unions such Alliant and NuVision have slightly different requirements and governing rules, but all are great places to train.

Personal banker salaries range from $35,000 – $50,000 with some incentives, depending on the bank. Lately, banking positions require bachelor’s degree, but that degree doesn’t have to be in finance. Most client-facing positions are fast-paced, but they have strict opening and closing hours so you don’t have to take work home. The salary and the challenge can both cap off, leaving an overachiever wondering, “What’s next?”

The insurance side

Insurance companies vary; there are life, health, property and annuity products. Licenses are required to sell these products, but you don’t have to have a degree. Many insurance sales positions are 100% commission. Some positions have a small salary to start out with that eventually tapers off, but the bulk of the compensation is from commission.

The trick to insurance sales is retention. Agents who can retain customers can create a great residual income.

In fact, those who are switching careers to financial sales may find that their old colleagues from the previous career can become new prospects. Having that old network to tap into can increase someone’s success in both insurance and investment sales.

Investment sales

Brokers or financial advisers like to differentiate themselves from insurance agents.  Financial advisers sell investments such as stocks, bonds, and mutual funds. Although many FAs are licensed to do it all, some of them prefer not to sell insurance products. Most firms require a bachelor’s degree. It usually doesn’t matter what the degree is in.

Many firms, including Morgan Stanley, recruit career transitioners.  Most of the major firms have training programs.  The average starting salary for a training FA is about $50,000.  The median salary once in practice is about $90,000.  Some well-connected financial advisers make hundreds of thousands of dollars a year once their practices are built.

Investment banking

Investment bankers do for corporations what financial advisers do for individuals. They basically help with growth and investment strategies.  This position requires a degree, normally in finance, and most investment bankers have an MBA. This is a competitive field so an applicant’s background will matter. Salaries start at about $120,000 and go up to about $250,000 or more, depending on the firm.

One warning: The investment banker lifestyle is work, work, work.  Those who value their evenings and weekends may find it’s not the job for them.

The key to success in financial services

Networking is an important key to finding a job in any field, but it can be even more helpful in the financial services industry. Many positions are filled by inside referrals. Potential job applicants should check their networks, use jobs websites, and go directly to the websites of companies they admire to find out about training programs.

One last thing to mention about all these positions: They require strong relationship-building skills. Many people can learn the products, but if they don’t learn people skills, they will not succeed.  Those who do can find themselves in a stable, growing sector.

Kine' Corder
Kiné has 13 years of experience in the financial services industry and is a member of the Financial Therapy Association.

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