The number of different qualifications available within the finance industry can be bewildering. Across banking, accountancy and the many other finance industry areas there are a wide range of professional bodies offering courses that claim to be able to take your career to the next level. However, it’s important that individuals have a clear goal in mind before deciding on any one particular qualification.

Although a postgraduate qualification is not essential to secure a job within the finance industry, it can prove extremely useful, particularly if you have a non-vocational undergraduate degree. Undertaking additional study also helps to prove your passion and dedication to your area of employment, demonstrating to current and prospective employers that you are willing to develop your skills.

How to get a job in finance.

We cover:

  • accountancy
  • banking
  • practical skills
  • CPD

Accountancy.

One way of securing a professional qualification in the finance sector is to join a professional body offering such courses. In accountancy, for example, the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) offers its own ACCA Qualification in order to give graduates an entry route into the profession. The course involves up to 14 exams and three years’ work experience, as well as a professional ethics module that must be completed. The latter, in particular, demonstrates the way that professional qualifications can help applicants keep up-to-date with industry trends. Recently, there has been a concerted effort to focus on codes of conduct and ethics within the finance industry and hence the ACCA course place a great deal of emphasis on this area. There are also various other accountancy courses, including the ACA qualification offered by the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW).

Banking.

If the banking sector is the area of finance that you’d rather focus on, than the Chartered Banker Institute offers a range of qualifications to suit your career progression. The Chartered Banking Diploma is a globally recognised qualification that provides individuals with the flexibility to focus on modules of their own choosing. Aside from the compulsory module of Professionalism, Ethics and Regulation, students must complete three other modules covering a range of topics including Contemporary Issues in Banking, Risk Management and Corporate Banking. Each module is assessed via compulsory assignment and a written on-line examination, which must be completed within twelve months of registration. The Chartered Banking Institute also offers courses on more bespoke areas of banking, including the Diploma in Professional Financial Advice, and the Mortgage Advice and Practice Certificate.

Developing practical skills.

Many professional qualifications have a focus on practical skills and in this respect differ from university undergraduate degrees. However, the Institute of Financial Services (IFS) University College provides a unique study programme that enables applicants to study for both a degree and professional qualification concurrently. Offering courses in banking, accountancy and other corporate finance sectors, the degree programme issued by the IFS University College enables students to study for three years full-time or longer part-time, and forego the need to obtain professional qualifications at a later date. For example, completing the BSc (Hons) in Finance and Accounting leaves students exempt from all ACCA accountancy qualifications. As well gaining qualifications and developing your skills, attending a financially focused institution like the IFS is also a great way for candidates to develop their industry connections.

Continuing professional development.

Individuals hoping for a long and fruitful career in corporate finance should also be aware that professional qualifications are not just useful for securing an entry level job, but also provide a means of continuing professional development (CPD). Learning about your industry is important no matter how experienced you are and demonstrates that you are willing to keep up-to-date with industry changes. Although professional qualifications come at a cost, employers may be willing to subsidise fees as it is often in their best interests to nurture and retain passionate and well-informed members of staff. 

Whether you are looking to enter the finance industry or progress up the career ladder, professional qualifications are hugely important for personal development. They not only enable you to refresh your knowledge of a constantly changing industry, but they also show that you are willing to go the extra mile in order to move your career in the right direction.