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How Do I Choose the Right Area of Finance for Me?

Unfortunately, this process isn’t quite as straight forward as picking out a lovely lady or gent on Take Me Out, or deciding what you want for dinner… Here are a few little nuggets of advice on how to choose the right area of finance for you…

Which subjects do you enjoy most?

Sometimes the biggest clues are staring you in the face! So start by pinning down what appeals to you, and then look at where your interests and strengths slot into the different finance areas.

If you absolutely love maths and science subjects for instance, the odds are you’d get on rather well in almost any finance role that has a heavy focus on number-crunching and analysis. Accounting, actuarial roles, financial analysis, pensions and banking in any area all need top numerical minds for instance. If you’re a fan of I.T., technology could be the way forward! If arts and humanities subjects are more your thing then perhaps relationship management or HR may tick the boxes for you.

Chat to contacts…

Your GCSEs, IB or A-levels are one thing, but you can also gain a nice little insight into what you could flourish in by quizzing your family, friends and teachers. They may be able to tell you to find out what they think your strengths are. You may have overlooked a talent for solving puzzles or being extremely persuasive to get your way, for example, but those closest to you will know all about it!

What’s more, you can wrack your brains and figure out if there any family members or friends who work in a finance role and could give you an insight into what their job is like. Or do they know anyone who does who could help?

Start to explore the options that area of finance offers…

Once you’re sure of the type of thing you might enjoy within work, it’s time to find the right areas of finance that will suit your personality, competencies and interests. You can use the industry overviews and industry breakdowns sections of AllAboutFinanceCareers.com as a great starting point!

Remember it’s about finding the right working environment too, not just the perfect role! Some areas like trading may involve more unsociable hours; some roles might bring in juicier bonuses! Have a think about what appeals to you.

Visit a firm on an insight day…

Another stellar way to find out which is the right area of finance for you is to get a place on an Insight Day. Some of the UK’s biggest school leaver and graduate recruiters in banking, finance and professional services run special evenings and days just to give you a taste of the kinds of opportunities available. This is also a fabulous way to start clocking up some big names on your CV…

Get some work experience…

If there was ever a better way to sort out your head and find out what really interests you career wise than work experience, then we haven’t heard of it! It’s tricky to work out if what you think you want to do will be totally right until you’ve had a crack at it.

There are opportunities out there with Big Four firms, insurance companies, and even some bulge bracket investment banks (the biggest players in the industry) for A-level students to get a taste for what they do with one or two week schemes. There are fewer opportunities for GCSE students, but they do exist. J.P. Morgan, for example, runs a work experience scheme for GCSE and A-level students.

Be aware, even work experience is competitive! You’ll need to meet entry requirements (such as at least a B in Maths and English Language) to apply, as many companies see this stage as the first chance to spot future talent. So work experience isn’t just a great way to pinpoint what you want to do; it’s a rather healthy edition to your CV too!

By Jos Weale, Editor, AllAboutFinanceCareers.com