Education and Certification
First, no matter what facet of the industry financial professionals choose to work in, they need to earn bachelor’s degrees in finance, economics, financial planning, or a related field. There are non-degree programs available, but sooner or later, if the professional wants to advance his or her career, the professional should plan to get a bachelor’s degree and often a master’s degree as well. Once he or she is educated, the next step is becoming certified. What certification he or she will need depends on what career path the professional has chosen to pursue.
The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) provides licensure for professionals who buy or sell stocks and securities. If the financial professional will be performing this duty, his or her employer will most likely offer reimbursement or compensation for this license. Other financial professionals may need to become certified financial planners or certified public accountants through their state or local licensing boards. These usually require a certain amount of education, and then the professional needs to take and pass an exam. After receiving certification, the professional needs to take continuing education classes and/or retake the exam periodically to retain his or her certification.
Soft Skills Needed by the Financial Professional
A good financial professional has in-depth knowledge of his or her field of interest, whether that is banking, investments, financial planning, or accounting. Because a great deal of the work in any of these fields entails analyzing financial data, interpreting it, and making decisions based on it, two highly desired skills for the financial professional are excellent analysis and problem solving. The financial planner must be able to look at financial reports and data, do a careful examination, and make conclusions and recommendations based on it. He or she must be skillful in understanding a company’s financial reports, histories of different markets, and business financing. He or she should enjoy working with a great deal of numbers and data, spreadsheets, and reports.
Yet, the financial planner should also have a genuine interest in addressing a customer’s financial needs, no matter who the customer is, an individual or business. One of the most important qualities a financial professional must have is the ability to listen to the customer and understand his or her financial needs.
Sometimes, the customer doesn’t know how to express those needs, and the financial professional must be able to ask the right questions and put the pieces together until he or she gets the total picture of what the customer needs. It’s also important for the professional to have good communication skills because the financial industry and its inner workings can be quite complicated and difficult for the average person to understand. The customer needs the financial professional to be able to explain the products, services, situations, or recommendations for him or her in a way that the client will be able to understand.
When people think of people in financial careers, they often think of people who are most comfortable with numbers, sitting in front of a computer and calculator and rarely interacting with other people. The reality for these professionals is actually quite different. Financial professionals must have a rare combination of both a love for numbers and analysis and the desire to serve people and meet their financial and business needs. Here are some of the qualities a good financial professional needs to possess.
Another quality that’s very important to the customer is trust. Many times, the financial professional is helping a client with his or life savings or all the money that a person may have. It is imperative that the financial professional is able to prove that he or she cares about that person’s future and that the client can trust him or her to keep the client’s needs first and his or her own personal gain second. When a financial professional is able to do this, it will actually mean more clients for him or her, and the professional will be able to reap financial benefits. Even investment bankers who work with large businesses as their clients must still prove their trustworthiness and will reap the same rewards for doing so.
The final two qualities that a good financial professional should possess in every facet of the industry are initiative and creativity. The successful financial professional is one who looks for opportunities for his or her clients and takes the initiative to contact them and make those suggestions. Sitting back and waiting for clients to contact him or her is not the way to succeed in this industry. It also takes a great deal of creativity to see those opportunities on the horizon and envision how to make them work for a variety of clients.