As students and new grads, you might not have actually worked in Financial Services yet – and that’s perfectly okay!
Every professional has been in your shoes, trying to figure out how to hatch their careers without prior experience in the field. The answer? Transferrable skills. Bringing the abilities you’ve developed from other jobs – even if they were in completely different fields – can help ease your transition into this industry.
Most Financial Services positions are rooted in gathering information and using it to share your expertise with clients, so any skills that will help you excel in those tasks will be immensely valuable.
To start, highlight these 3 skills on your resume to show employers that you’re the perfect candidate!
Many entry-level roles in Financial Services involve face-to-face communication with clients, which is great because a lot of students and grads have experience working in Customer Service. Even if you’re working a more behind-the-scenes job, interpersonal skills will still influence the way you approach your work and tackle each problem.
Moreover, when you’re a professional who’s providing a service to others, you need to be able to relate to your clients and understand their financial concerns. Remember, every client is unique, so you’ll have to adapt to each of their circumstances appropriately. Excellent interpersonal skills can help you develop rapport with clients. They should see you as someone they can trust; someone who will consider their individual situations when assisting them through the Financial world.
In addition, this is an industry where you need to have unparalleled listening skills. However, note that hearing and listening are two different things. Hearing just happens, while listening takes focus. You want to ask yourself this ultimate question: What is your client trying to tell you?
For instance, are they worried about paying off loans? Are they looking for long-term Financial stability? Are they interested in investing in riskier stocks but aren’t ready to jump fully into the deep end yet? It’s important to listen carefully to what your client is saying so you can offer the advice that most suits their needs and personality.
How to practice this skill: Anytime you interact with someone, you’re using interpersonal skills. So what can you do to improve? Try to make a conscious effort to understand the meaning behind people’s words. For example, if a friend comes to you for advice on how to find more time to study, really consider their situation. How much time do they already put in? Do they have a part-time job? What are their busiest days? It’s all about thinking before you speak.
Nearly all entry-level Financial Services positions will require you to interact with clients on a daily basis, so strong communication skills are a must. In fact, you’ll likely be working with a lot of people who don’t have a Finance background and are unfamiliar with the industry jargon. Therefore, it’s your job to deliver complex ideas in simple terms, while still being able to explain in detail if asked about a certain aspect. For instance, can you summarize what purposes a chequing account and a savings account can serve in someone’s financial plan in a few simple sentences? Can you also give an in-depth comparison of each of their advantages? To excel in this industry, you need the ability to tailor your communication approach to your audience.
How to practice this skill: Start by going through important sections of your textbook – parts that are likely to show up on tests, midterms, and finals – and defining concepts in concise terms. Then, try to thoroughly explain each one with as much detail as you can recall. As a bonus, this is also an excellent study method! You can also practice creating elevator pitches, which are persuasive 30 second Sales speeches. Depending on your target career or industry, you can develop these for a variety of relevant products and services. By the time you enter the workforce, you’ll be an expert at pulling together an effective Sales pitch.
Research and Planning Skills
No matter where you work in Financial Services, whether it’s Accounting, Banking, or Insurance, you need to be able to gather information and use it effectively. Knowing how to research and plan is particularly important if you’re aiming for a sector like Investment Banking or Private Equity, where you work with more long-term clients.
In this industry, you need the skills to set a goal, gather relevant information, implement a plan, and analyze the results. For example, if your company has an idea for a new innovative way of providing a traditional service, it’s your job use these skills to help balance their goals and risks with a reasonable strategy and present that plan to the decision makers.
How to practice this skill: Anytime you have to prepare a marketing presentation or complete a Finance project, you’re utilizing your research and planning skills. But, you can also develop these abilities outside of school. For example, set a SMART goal for yourself. It can be anything from being more active, to finding more time to read. Do some research to find out what you need to achieve that goal – maybe it’s time to invest in that gym membership – then make a plan and stick to it! By the end of the year, evaluate how well you did and what changes could be made if you tried again next year.
When you’re stepping into your very first Financial Services position, remember to use these skills to excel in the workplace. While your ability to do your job depends on your knowledge, the quality of your service relies heavily on your interpersonal, communication, research, and planning skills.