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How to Progress in Finance

by Jamie Radford

A career in finance is a dream for many but the thought of achieving and reaching the higher levels in finance can be overwhelming. What are the best qualifications to study? How do I stand out from the rest? How can I get my first job without experience? How long do I need to stay in my first job before it’s acceptable to move to the second? How can I prove myself without a portfolio, customer testimonials or a pile of excellent references?


These are just some of the many questions students and graduates ask when considering or planning for a career in finance. There are varying opinions but overall, starting out and moving up in the financial world can seem daunting when you’re just taking your first steps. Most graduates believe it takes a number of years in each role to gain the necessary experience and many believe that movement upwards is not as quick as some other careers. None of these opinions should put you off pursuing a career in finance though. It’s not easy to just progress quickly in finance. You’ll need solid qualifications, a good work ethic and at least one excellent reference to help you to get on the ladder and begin the ascension. As with most other careers, you also need to demonstrate leadership and management skills from the very beginning. Not management at executive level, but management of your daily tasks, customers, your peers and colleagues, and demonstrating that you are a capable person and have the ability to take control of situations.


Finance is a competitive industry and it is worth being aware of this and adjusting your expectations somewhat. It is also prudent to take steps early on in order to ensure you will progress within your financial career appropriately – at least according to your expectations…


Set career goals

Knowing where you want to be in five or ten years’ time is not just for the interview process! Setting out your career goals can make your ambitions concrete and without realising it, you’ll naturally be following your goals and reaching for them, one after the other.


Develop key skills

Key skills include both soft skills and qualifications under your belt. It is important to ensure you have a sturdy set of skills. Not only is your initial qualification – whether degree, diploma or certificate – important, but developing your skills further is crucial for career advancement. Attend seminars, read publications, complete post-graduate courses and you’ll be climbing up the ladder steadily. If you would like to know more about AP certification courses, have a look at our recognised online courses here.


Improve on what you enjoy doing

There will always be some part of your job that you enjoy doing more than the rest. Be mindful of what you enjoy working on, take additional courses and learn what you can to improve your knowledge in this area. You could land up being the “go-to” person for this skill within your company which can only improve your chances for advancement.


Don’t rely on your managers

This is quite an obvious one but often missed by those working in assistant roles. Don’t forget to double or triple check your work so that your manager does not have to. Be reliable and one of those employees that managers know they can count on to produce error-free work and promotion prospects will no doubt begin coming available to you.


Be one of those awesome employees

This is an obvious one but it needs to be added here, if only as a reminder. Apply yourself to other areas within your job, such as solving customer problems, being an advocate of the company, stepping in for colleagues when they are away or off sick, helping your manager out when their desk is overloaded – just by being one of those employees that can be counted on to “muck in”, you can stand out above the rest and improve your chances of progression.


Talk about your career aspirations

Don’t remain quiet about where you want your career to go but rather be vocal and speak up! How else is the management team going to be aware of your career goals? This will help you to stand out and be memorable when it comes time to promotion opportunities. If management or HR do not know your aspirations, you could far too easily be overlooked.



Last and possibly most importantly, network! Networking is key to meeting new people, especially those that are influential and who could be vital to your career advancement. Whether it’s online or in person networking, put yourself out there and see how opportunities begin to open up for you.



I hope this has helped you to see that by just taking a few steps, you can secure your future growth in the financial arena. If you are interested in learning more about developing your skills, please don’t hesitate to contact us for an obligation-free chat about the right course for you or have a look at our offering here.





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