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Finance is a diverse profession; two people doing almost entirely different jobs could both realistically claim to work in finance. Despite the great variety in the sector, a successful financial professional, in whatever role they occupy, will have these seven skills:
It is essential that finance professionals think in an analytical way. This is to say that they need to be able to accurately assess a situation, and be able to deconstruct it to form intelligent actions and responses. This applies to technical data analysis as much as it does to more general problems.
Every finance professional could benefit from improving their analytical skills. This could be as simple as constantly being curious, being creative to think of new approaches or by being trusting and positive but wanting to verify things for yourself.
An astute commercial awareness is invaluable for a finance professional. You need to be able to keep your eye on the state of the markets as well as understanding how your own company’s finances fit into the wider trends. An understanding of the figures alone is not enough, you need to translate this understanding to the function of the business.
When dealing with problems, a certain level of pragmatism is needed; you need to be able to deal with things in a hands-on way. In every task, the question you ask yourself needs to be ‘how do we get things done?’ Every business would choose a pragmatic leader over an idealistic one, so don’t get too caught up in overthinking a problem.
For those without an attention to detail, the consequences can be massive. Something as simple as a decimal point or forgetting to add a zero can be disastrous; being detail oriented can reduce the risk of errors for which there is very little room in financial services. If you are able to demonstrate this skill to potential employers, you will add value to your candidature due to the high value placed on it.
The world of finance can often be a pressurized environment; being able to work under pressure, therefore, is essential. You need to be motivated to do your work and able to focus on the specifics of what you are doing. When working under pressure, you won’t have time to focus on the outcome or wider project as this will only distract you. Focusing on the task at hand is the best way to achieve your goals under pressure.
Jobs in finance can often have technical elements to them that will need to be communicated to others who do not share the same wealth of technical knowledge. Being flexible in the way you communicate is essential for this. You need to explain the technical ideas in a comprehensible way but not in a dumbed down or oversimplified way. If you can communicate your work effectively, you will be able to make better connections with your colleagues.
Finally, finance professionals need to be able to present with confidence. Whether this is pitching to a new client or talking at an in-house meeting, speaking with confidence will make common situations like this easier. The key to perfecting this is to practice as speaking truly convincingly off the cuff is a privilege only a select few enjoy. Public-speaking can be nerve-wracking but, with practice, it can feel far more natural.
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