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The workplace is evolving, and at a pace perhaps quicker than at any other point in history. Lightning speed advances in technology are driving a sea change in the types of abilities employers need and want.
It is no longer enough to excel at the basics. Being great at your job is the starting point—something you will find you share with the vast majority of others all competing for the same role. To truly get ahead in the very near future takes a mix of hard and soft skills, and below we’ve picked out three of the most important to thrive in the financial sector.
Knowledge has always been power, and today the sheer volume of data that organisations can gather is simply mind-boggling. The ability to make sense of the numbers and use it to base decisions about each client’s unique financial portfolio is a critical and much sought after talent; one that is going to become ever more in demand.
Analytical thinking centres around logic and reasoning—identifying issues and challenges, formulating a range of solutions and selecting the most appropriate on a case by case basis. It requires both strong problem solving and mathematical skills along with excellent technical know-how, working across diverse software systems to interrogate performance, risk assessment, CRM and financial planning.
Those who can prove themselves comfortable using big data to inform key decisions are set to become some of the most highly employable people in the financial sector.
Practical leadership skills
The office environment of 20, or even just 10, years ago is a world away from today’s contemporary workplace. And, as the traditional set up has given way to the modern reality of hot-desking, telecommuting and open plan transparency, leadership roles have been revolutionised as well.
More than ever, management will be expected to guide by example. Employees who feel as if work is being dumped on them unnecessarily by a boss who can’t be bothered to do it him or herself will quickly lose both respect and motivation. An atmosphere of cooperation and fairness, where the manager is not afraid to roll up their sleeves and get their hands dirty, and where each staff member’s input is valued and their continued professional development is encouraged, creates the most effective team.
This lead from the front mentality involves establishing positive communication and building relationships with employees based on honesty and trust. In that way, the successful manager can delegate responsibility and let staff take ownership of their work, finding their own innovative ways of completing it. The most capable bosses in the future will be leaders in practice as well as in name.
The era where finance professionals spent their entire working lives in front of a computer screen is long gone. Every commercial enterprise is about relationships—people want to do business with people. Nobody wants to feel as if they are just a set of numbers on a spreadsheet, so developing a rapport with clients is possibly the most essential skill you can acquire to ensure your continued success in the industry.
The reality of life in the financial sector will involve you working closely with people and being called on to explain highly complex subjects in a way non-specialists can understand. To do that requires a particular set of social skills—empathy, problem-solving, emotional intelligence, persuasion and negotiation. In an age where automation is taking over more and more of the daily routine, it is the people with the best interpersonal skills who will get ahead.
Forging a successful career in the financial sector takes a diverse skillset, one that blends carefully honed analytical abilities and technical knowledge with a talent for connecting with colleagues and clients alike. It is a fast-paced and exciting industry, and the rewards are waiting for those flexible enough to move with the times.
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