Finance Jobs Overview
Whether enrolled in Sy Syms or Yeshiva College, you may be interested in pursuing a career in finance. But what exactly does that mean? Perhaps you don’t know where to begin, feel overwhelmed by the bevy of options, or believe that nothing exists beyond investment banking, which is famed for its 20-hour work days and overall grueling lifestyle. Although it is impossible to list every job within the financial world, this article will delve deeper into some of the better-known ones. That being said, it is critical to remember that this article contains some generalizations, and individuals should do their own additional research to find the career that best fits their skill set and aspirations.
Before getting into the individual jobs, let us first define Finance. The YU Career Center has distributed a handout that perfectly defines the domain of finance. “Finance addresses the ways in which individuals, businesses, governments, and organizations raise, allocate, and use monetary resources. It describes the system of moving money in order to provide capital where it is most needed.”
Investment Banking: Dov Herzberg, an incoming investment banking analyst at Moellis, a top boutique investment bank, sees Investment Banks as serving two main roles: “Firstly, they advise companies on transactions such as mergers, acquisitions, restructuring, leveraged buyouts etc. Secondly, they help companies raise money by acting as the intermediary between the company and the investing public.” If you are looking for a 9-5 job, this is certainly the wrong place. Bankers often stay up until the early hours of the morning working on Microsoft PowerPoint or Excel for their superiors and find themselves on-call all hours of the day. Due to the wide variety of roles that one may play, a banker must be detail-oriented, adept interpersonally and analytically, and arguably most importantly, have a very strong work ethic. Many bankers go into the role with a “2-year” mindset, working in investment banking for two years and then moving on to other opportunities, like private equity or venture capital.
Sales and Trading: People employed in a firm’s sales and trading divisions will sell stocks and bonds to investors (including institutional investors, wealthy individuals, mutual funds and pension plans), while collecting commissions from these sales. When one of those investors decides on going through with a trade, the order goes to the “trading floor.” Traders can either buy or sell on behalf of those clients or their own bank. As traders often find themselves in need of making split-second decisions in a high-pressure, fast-paced and bombastic environment, one must be prepared accordingly. Although the hours at work vary per bank and per person, a trader, on average, makes it into work before the stock market opens and leaves shortly after it closes.
Private Client Services/Wealth Management: According to YU’s career center pamphlet, those working in wealth management or private client services will “provides brokerage and money management services for extremely wealthy individuals.” In some sense, it’s “highly entrepreneurial,” as one has to build and maintain a host of clients, and cater to them. Wealth management advisors will often take their clients out to lavish dinners and sports events. Among the qualities that are essential for this position are being personable, making the client feel important, and most importantly, executing successful decisions with the clients’ money.
Retail Broker: One of the most common securities sales agent is called a broker. They most commonly sell securities (both stocks and bonds) to everyday people. The broker charges a fee for this service, and can also make money by finding a lower price for the security than was arranged with the investor. The wide majority, if not all of one’s salary is typically made through commissions. Therefore, attracting and retaining clients is of the utmost importance and there is no substitute for being a good at selling and persuasion.
Research: One can either follow stocks or fixed-income securities. Stock analysts, or equity research analysts, make buy, sell, or hold recommendations to investors. They usually have a “coverage,” or industry, which could range from anything like banks to mid-size technology and biotechnology companies, and end up becoming experts in that respective field. Writing, interpersonal and analytical abilities top the list of most important skills. On the flip side, fixed-income analysts, or credit research analysts, “analyze financial data of companies or individuals to determine that degree of risk involved in extending credit or lending money” and their ability to pay it back.
Operations: A firm’s Operations division ensures that the the firm’s business operations run smoothly and effectively. The YU Career Center pamphlet writes that “although the specific job varies firm by firm, it is helpful to think of those working in operations as internal consultants whose job is to make sure the company is maximize efficiency, for the most part.” For those interested in pursuing a job or internship in Operations, it is essential to have strong problem-solving skills.
Risk Management: Oversees programs to minimize risks and losses that might occur from financial transactions and business operations. The role demands that analysts interact with numbers so having a strong-skill set in that area is essential.
Although you may have noticed similarities between some of the jobs, overall, there are more differences than similarities, making each job a possibility for almost every personality type. That being said, a lot of skills overlap, including being analytically proficient, detail-oriented, interpersonal and most importantly, passionate. Additionally, being enrolled in Sy Syms is not a prerequisite. Although this piece only touches the surface, one should be able to get a good idea of where, if at all, one might fall within these different positions.