Cracking The Glass Ceiling In The Financial Planning Sector

Breaking into a role in financial services industry is tough and can be even tougher for candidates from other fields. When students from non-finance background, think about careers in finance, they tend to think either CA or CS. However, there are other professional certifications which can provide a breakthrough in financial services industry.

Certified Financial Planner (CFP) is one of the most respected and recognized designation in the financial industry. CFP designation is a professional certification mark for financial planners.

The financial planning industry is easy enough to break into, but carving out a viable long-term career is tough. To succeed in this industry, one must have discipline, intelligence and a thick-skinned psyche. There are many different positions in the financial services industry, and it often takes years for individuals to find and settle into a position that is a good fit for them.

The CFP certification attract candidates from a wide range of sectors and one of the most common questions is, “Can the CFP designation help to get a job in finance if someone only has experience outside of finance?”

The short answer here is yes…it can help, but it will not immediately get you offers from large financial planning firms. Landing your dream job as a planner or analyst is difficult enough for those with strong experience in the field. The lack of experience in finance will be a roadblock on your resume but you may be able to turn knowledge of your previous industry into an advantage if you can stuck your head in the game.

You’re in a Networking Field Now

Depending on the industry you’ve worked in previously, networking and making contacts may be a new challenge for you. Those coming from engineering or other technical fields may not have need to network or build a name for themselves around the industry other than through their work.

Financial Planning & Wealth Management is a type of networking industry. Managers and others in the sector depend on their connections to bring them leads on accounts and deals. This makes it difficult for outsiders to get a foot in the door because they don’t have the connections with people filling positions on their team.

Turn your Disadvantages into Advantages

Your disadvantage of not having asset management or finance experience may be able to be used in your favor. You will still need to get your resume noticed through networking but once you’ve got an interview, you may be able to use your previous experience to get a leg up on other job candidates.

Many analysts come directly from the sector or industry they cover. Sell-side firms are always looking for people to give them deep technical knowledge of an industry, especially in fields like pharmaceuticals, technology and energy. Not only does your experience in the industry give you a deeper knowledge of the business but it lends you more credibility as a planner.

Before you make the leap into financial planning, spend some time to really understand the business model within your industry. It’s not enough to know the technical specifications of a product, and what the industry looks like on a competitive basis. You need to show potential employers that you are an expert on the industry and that goes well beyond just having experience in one particular role.

Progress to the CFP designation is a strong plus for people coming from other industries, even more than for those already in finance. The CFP curriculum is broadly based and many universities use it as a model for a graduate program.

The CFP curriculum covers some detail in financial statement analysis and also into practical application. Working through a modeling course will help show you how the financial statements are integrated and how to work through to a performance valuation. Look through several reports on companies within your prior industry. Are there areas where you can use your previous experience to improve on the analysis?

Whatever you do, do not present yourself as a “well-rounded” candidate with knowledge across different fields. Employers do not want someone that knows a little about a lot. Employers want an asset that can bring detailed experience about a particular field and apply it to outperform other analysts.

Getting a job in finance is certainly not impossible though it may feel that way for candidates without any industry experience or connections. Make the connections you need through networking and highlight your experience in another field. Stick with it and don’t get discouraged.

Until next time, happy job hunting.

This blog is written by students of Post Graduate Diploma in Financial Planning(PGDFP), International College of Financial Planning(ICFP)

(Ankit Singh, Neha Agrawal, Samiksha Gupta, Sanjay Baboria)

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