Striving for a Great Career in Finance

I have conducted a free session on the topic “Career in Financial Services Industry in Bangladesh” on June 11, 2021. I conducted this session because I think, many young grads are not well informed about what employers look for when they hire people in the financial services industry. I have been serving in financial services industry of Bangladesh for more than 10 years and I have made many mistakes in that period. I learned from my mistakes and mistakes by others. I think I can share some of my evidence based wisdoms to the young grads so that they can prepare themselves better.

I did a small survey to understand what qualities employers look for when they hire entry and mid-level employees. I surveyed more than 25 professionals in the Banking and Capital Market industry. I surveyed managing directors of Banks, Investment Banks, Brokerage Firms, and Asset Management Companies. I have also surveyed some entrepreneurs and department heads from banking, investment banking, brokerage firms, and asset management companies. So, what are the qualities they look for when hiring entry/mid-level professionals? Do we have a better sense about what they look for? Obviously, the first and most important thing is Domain Knowledge.

What Domain Knowledge Means?

Domain knowledge is the knowledge you have in a specific area or subject. Domain knowledge can be in various subjects and areas. You can have domain knowledge in Investment Analysis or corporate banking or risk management in the financial services industry. While domain knowledge is extremely important that creates the foundation of ones’ career but to do well and improve in a career, one needs to acquire many other soft skills and T-Shaped skills.

CFA Institute released a publication in May 2019 that describes the changing roles, skills and organizational cultures that investment profession is going to face in the next 5-10 years. The institute surveyed wide range of investment professionals about how much they think the role they currently hold will change in the next 5–10 years. The survey revealed four broad sets of skills:

  • Technical Skills
  • Soft Skills
  • Leadership Skills
  • T-Shaped Skills

As per the CFA institute survey, technical skills are ranked first by 14% of the industry leaders. Technical skills include investment skills, finance, economics, information technology, client solution skills, etc. Soft skills are ranked first by 16% of industry leaders. It includes empathy/relationship skills, consultative/selling skills, communication skills, humility/self-awareness skills, and creativity/innovation skills.  The leadership category of skills is viewed as more important, and it is ranked first by 21% of industry leaders. Within this category, they identified such skills as the ability to articulate mission and vision, being globally attuned/familiarity with multiple languages, instilling an ethical culture, crisis management abilities, and governance. Finally, they asked about T-Shaped skills which are the most valued type of skills overall, according to our survey: 49% say they are more important than all the other categories. More specifically, these skills include the ability to connect across disciplines, being systems savvy, understanding larger organizational context, having situational fluency/adaptability, cultivating a valuable network of contacts, and understanding and leveraging diverse perspectives.

In my small survey with more than 25 professionals in the financial services industry of Bangladesh revealed similar responses. When asked about the most important qualities that employers look for during hiring of entry and mid level professionals, the respondents talked about many different qualities. The most frequent characteristics that the respondents mentioned are:

  • Domain Knowledge
  • Education Background
  • Relevant Experience (For Mid-Level)
  • Integrity
  • Cultural fit with the team
  • Politeness/Humility
  • Attitude towards Learning
  • Teamwork
  • Dedication/Commitment
  • Good Networking Ability
  • Communication Ability
  • Leadership

So, while domain knowledge or technical skills are very important but for moving towards mid to senior level responsibilities, one needs many other soft, leadership and T-shaped skills. Carter Cast, the writer of the book “The Right-and-Wrong-Stuff: How Brilliant Careers Are Made and Unmade” said that in the first 3-5 years employees should build their core skills and they continue to hone their skills as the move forward. At the same time, they should build other skills to take their careers forward.

We have ended the session with some “LinkedIn” strategies for finance professionals conducted by Mr. Imdadul Islam. If anyone is willing to build their career in the financial services industry in Bangladesh, they can check the course the “Career in Finance MasterClass”.

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