Getting Ahead of the Pack in Your Career in Finance

Career in Finance

The world of finance is competitive. When you work with money, it’s only natural that you want to earn a good chunk of it for yourself. It’s an ever-changing, growing, and evolving sector, more so than ever before with the emergence of cryptocurrency and the growth of global business. A career in finance is appealing for many people. It’s an industry where there will always be jobs, growth, and opportunities to move up the ladder and earn more.

But when you work in such a competitive sector it can be hard to get noticed, to make the right impression, and to keep up with the pack, never mind get ahead of them. Here are some of the things that you can do to get ahead of the pack.

Commit to Extended Learning

Finance is an ever-changing world. The processes, the ways that we work, and even the money itself is changing all of the time, and it’s important that we keep up. Many people find themselves starting their careers eagerly, quickly moving through the ranks with enthusiasm and passion, comfortably at the head of the pack. Then in a few short years, they have grown complacent, lost their edge, are unsure about new methods and knowledge, and find that those passionate and eager graduates are nipping at their heels.

Getting to the front of the pack might be the easy part, it’s staying there, or making a comeback that you need to worry about. To stay at the front, you need to commit to career-long learning. This could be reading independently, staying on top of relevant news and advancements, learning from your peers, superiors, and even those new starters, or taking more formal courses and gaining new qualifications. It all counts.

Explore Alternate Courses

You might think that to work in finance you need skills and qualifications in maths and accounting. While a mathematical background or degree is essential, other subjects could be valuable to your career too.

Studying something like psychology can be helpful when you work in finance and need to be able to really understand other people’s actions and thought processes. Even studying independently without any official qualifications can help you to gain an edge.

Learning more about leadership and management can help you to run your team, manage your time, and get things done in the workplace. Being a good leader can help you to build better relationships with colleagues and subordinates, but also with clients.

Another course that could be useful to someone in finance is web management. With so much business done online today having even a basic knowledge of building and running a website can be a big help in most workplaces.

Then, there are courses like a Master’s in Business Analytics from Saint Bonaventure University, which could give you an edge when it comes to making fact-based decisions and understanding data and databases effectively. These courses are ideal for anyone with a degree who is looking to extend or diversify their knowledge.

Set Some Goals

If you worked in finance a few decades ago, you had two main career choices. You could be a stockbroker, or you could be an insurance agent. Nowadays the options are endless and varied. With a background in finance, you could have a career as anything from a financial risk analyst to a corporate treasurer. You could work in banking, insurance, tax, pensions, and accounting, and fairly easily make switches between financial careers over your working life.

To set goals it’s important that you explore some of these career options, so that you know what you want to do, at least in the short term. Then set yourself some career goals, these can be large, like gaining a promotion or opening your own office, or smaller, like finding a new client or trying to initiate a new idea in your workplace. Having goals gives you things to work toward and means that you never grow complacent at work.

Find the Right Mentor

Having a mentor is a great way to stick to those goals, continue learning, and meet some well-connected people. But your mentor might not be the person that you immediately think of. The wise old manager at work who you’ve always gotten on well with might not actually have followed the same path, your goals and ideas might not align with theirs, and actually great doers aren’t always great teachers or sharers.

Gain Varied Experience in the Workplace

One of the best ways to get noticed at work is to gain a more varied experience. Don’t stay in your comfort zone but volunteer for different tasks and roles. This gives you a chance to learn, to make new connections, and to get noticed as someone that says yes and is always willing to expand on their knowledge.

Brush Up on the Basics

Yes, knowledge, experience, and competence are crucial elements of a successful career in finance but it’s often the smaller elements that hold people back. If your career isn’t moving as fast, or in the direction that you might like, it might be time to brush up on these basics.


When we start new jobs most of us are eager to make a great impression. We’re always on time or early. Then as the years go by, we start hitting the snooze. We’re good at our jobs, we can get things done quickly, what do a few minutes matter? It matters, and it’s noticed. If you are always a little late or running in just on time, or if you are on time but always reach the office stressed, rushed, and in a bad mood, it might be time to start setting your alarm a few minutes earlier.


Your appearance is exceptionally important when you work in finance. You can’t expect people to trust you with their money if you don’t look smart and well presented. Unfortunately, this is another area where standards can start to slide.


You don’t always need to be the life and soul of every social situation to do well in finance. But you do need to be likable and trustworthy.

Getting ahead of the pack in the world of finance is often about brushing up on the basics, working hard, and learning whenever an opportunity presents itself.

The views expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of The World Financial Review.