How Can I Advance in a Finance Career?

finance career

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Are you sitting behind a desk crunching numbers all day and wondering where do you go from here, specifically in the finance world? You can be ambitious and eager for change. Or perhaps you’re just beginning your finance career and are seeking a path to success. Regardless, it’s likely that you’re interested in launching your finance career if you’re reading this article. We have several recommendations that could set you up for success.

Finance Industry


Adapting to your sector’s shifting goals as a finance expert can mean the difference between creating a promising finance career and a truly outstanding one. The financial industry has seen significant change over the past ten years, and this trend isn’t slowing down. Fintech companies use big data from e-commerce and internet-based services to tailor the client experience. Established firms in the financial services industry are responding by introducing new online wealth management solutions and undergoing digital revolutions. At the same time, new technologies like artificial intelligence are ready to upend the industry further and change how financial services are traditionally provided.

Here are a few steps that you can take to further your career within this ever-changing finance world. 

Finance Career Task 1: Improve Your Toolkit

Building a toolkit early in your finance career is crucial, says Brian Trnkus, CPA, CA, who has worked at RAND in roles like the director of finance and corporate controller. In his own words, Trnkus reflected, “My mission was to develop myself and to get a feel and experience for different aspects of the business world without over-specializing in one field.” He took care to build what he calls a “broad toolkit” that he could draw from in the future, which would elevate him to new challenges and opportunities.

Improving your toolkit also means you will need to invest in your career and yourself. What does your finance toolkit look like? What classes do you need to take to get to that next step?

Finance Career Task 2: Develop Advanced Communication Skills

Finance professionals are expected to contribute value by providing insights to important decision-makers and acting as trusted advisors and business partners to functions inside their organization. This can be working with the sales team to assess the financial effects of pricing or promotions, examining operational procedures with the operations team to keep an eye on costs, or evaluating acquisitions and investments. Finance professionals must be able to connect with various stakeholders and communicate effectively with each of them as this “business adviser” job grows more crucial.

Improving cross-functional communication abilities is necessary for career advancement. A critical value-add in a finance career is in the capacity to communicate it in a way that other people can comprehend and value, even those without a strong finance background. Improving your cross-functional communication abilities is one of the best ways to advance in your profession.

Finance Career Task 3: Set Goals & Plot Out Your Career Path 


Take the time to think about your career path and set goals. Write the vision and make it plain. 

If you are working within an organization, set goals with your manager. It is a great way for you to manage your career more effectively. Many professionals in finance careers can find it challenging to establish and sustain career goals. This is in part due to the quick changes in complex law, legislation, and procedures. With your manager, you can set professional goals to help determine the actions you need to take to stay on track and succeed in your industry. Things to consider include

  • Consider your expertise and talents in relation to the requirements of the company.
  • Determine the career pathways inside the organization and the resources they can offer.

Finance Career Task 4: Build and Create Networks

Creating new alliances and agreements that can support a product or service gaining traction in the market is essential to corporate success. When it comes to discovering more prospects, spending time networking, or developing professional relationships, can make all the difference. 

Networking has repeatedly been shown to be one of the most efficient ways to start partnerships. If you are serious about a career in the finance sector, network as much as you can. Whether through local events and conferences or by looking for peer learning and mentoring programs.

Your networks determine your net worth. And occasionally, the connections you build will serve as the impetus for your professional advancement.

Finance Career Task 5: Adapt To Change 


The finance world has grown from the old adding machine and rolls of receipt tape. If financial services organizations are to have a workforce that is smart, agile, and prepared for the future, they need employees with “learning agility.” Professionals must therefore be open to new learning possibilities, such as volunteering for on-the-job stretch assignments or aiming for a rotational role within the company to gain a broader range of experience.

If you’re vying for a senior position in a field with greater competition, such as investment banking, private banking, or private equity, demonstrating such a skill is very important. In order for candidates in these fields to distinguish out from the competition, they must demonstrate their ability to add value in a changing market. How can you show your knowledge, think creatively, and lead with a growth mindset?

Finance Career Task 6: Embrace Professional Development 

Finance pros should take proactive steps to adapt and acquire new skills and expertise. Employers value career-focused employees. Professional development has various advantages, including keeping you abreast of market developments and expanding your skill set. This could involve more training or higher education. Are you looking to obtain a formal credential? Do you need to expand your project and people management skills? You can use this time to fatten up your finance management toolkit. 

Think about enrolling in classes that emphasize leadership development. Having the support of business management is a requirement for a promotion. Developing your leadership toolset and demonstrating your dedication to professional growth are essential components.

Finance Career Task 7: Find a Mentor 


No matter your career choice, you need to find someone farther down the road you are on. Connect with people in person as well as online through your LinkedIn profile. Your next chance may be paved by your capacity to develop networks inside and outside your company.

We often get in our heads and are afraid to ask someone to be our mentor. You have not because you ask not. Find someone you admire in the business or a past instructor who believed in you. Early career mentorship is also essential for success. An excellent strategy to advance your finance career is to have an experienced mentor on your side. Sitting around someone who has accomplished more than you does help you learn more. Seek others in your area of interest or discipline and learn from them.

Put the Plan into Action

It’s time to clarify where you want to go. Now work backwards. Are you equipped with the tools and education to get there? Do you have a bachelor’s degree and a solid foundation in finance? Do you have the skills to lead a team or organization? You might be interested in researching Online MBA programs in Finance. Check a few schools or organizations for some information on degrees or certifications. Start evaluating your strengths and weaknesses and develop a plan to strengthen those weaknesses.

Advancing your finance career may not be easy, but the payoff is worth the hard work. If you write the vision and make it plain, the next step is executing the plan!

Related Resources:

Guide to a Finance Online MBA
Top Online MBA Finance Specializations
Top Finance Podcasts

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