Contrary to popular belief, you don't have to be a middle-aged man in a business suit to go into the account, banking and financial industry. The classic stereotype of working in the industry and being holed up in an office surrounded by calculators and mountains of receipts is not always the reality for today's accountants. Don't fall for the trap of thinking working in this industry would mean living your worst high school maths class nightmare every day- there’s a range of businesses to work with and a variety of different opportunities available.
Will it suit me?
Young, creative problem-solvers have as much opportunity in the accounting, banking and financial services industry as your resident maths geek. You need to have the financial and technical skills to be able to crunch the numbers, but you also need to back this up with some solid communication skills that will allow you to interact well with clients so they can implement the knowledge you're providing them. Analytical minds as well as out of the box thinkers can both succeed in this industry if they're dedicated and ready to put the work in to build a sound theoretical knowledge to back themselves.
What jobs can I do?
Accountant, accounting clerk, actuary, mathematician, statistician, advertising and sales manager, auditor, bank worker, clerks, credit and loans officer, database and systems administrator, debt collector, economist, financial broker, financial dealer, financial advisor / manager, insurance agent, insurance investigator, bookkeeper, payroll clerk, management and organisation analyst.
How can I get there?
For this one, most positions need you to get a degree in the relevant field (think Bachelor of Accounting obviously for aspiring accountants, or Bachelor of Actuarial Studies if you want to go into risk analysis). Studying at university will give you the technical and professional skills needed for the area you decide to go into, as well as possible networking and interning opportunities. However, not all roles require a degree – if you’re looking to be a payroll clerk or bookkeeping, you may only need a Certificate qualification, and bank clerks can simply be trained on-the-job.
Is it a good industry?
A major perk of this industry is the income- if you're highly qualified you can bring in some serious cash but don't make the mistake of doing it just for the money. A career in this industry can be challenging and dynamic and while you might think the income will keep you going, if you don't have a genuine interest in problem solving or applying your theoretical knowledge to your work, you could end up burnt out and looking for a career switch. However, if you are in it for the long haul, there's plenty of opportunities for progression. Plus, there's the added perk that, depending on what sector you go into, you could work with individuals to achieve lifelong financial goals, cool companies like Google, government departments, big banks or forge your own path in an entrepreneurial venture.