“But how is this going to help me in the future?”
This is the exact question I ask myself when I’m attending a lengthy lecture, blankly staring at a sea of words and numbers with both eyes half-shut, or forcing myself to understand the derivative of a complex function in calculus class.
As an aspiring investment banker, I spend time every day analyzing formulas, tools, and case studies with the goals of performing well in my classes, as well as gaining a better understanding of finance’s role in business functioning.
Preparing for such a competitive career, I realized that I was never going to be the number one student: there would always be someone reading more than me, studying more than me, and spending more time thinking about everything. However, in the pursuit of a career in finance, good grades are not enough.
Separating Yourself From the Rest
Seeking a career in finance, students must differentiate themselves from their peers. Most students rely on investment banking internships to separate themselves, which makes getting an internship at a financial institution extremely competitive.
Because of this reality, depending solely on investment banking experiences to gain access into this field could limit your options. To separate yourself from competition, it is imperative to take an internship in sales.
“Why sales?”, you might be thinking. In a sales role, you gain an understanding of relationship building and communication effectiveness. Investment banking is a career that requires you to conduct extensive research to prospect for clients and bring in new business, as well as manage all stages of a transaction, from the opening pitch to the closing investment contract.
The ability to communicate and articulate is important in any job, but specifically finance, in which you must convince some client or customer (a firm, investment group, individual, etc.) that you are providing them with the best fiscal solution for their individual needs.
In sales, you have an unmatched opportunity to differentiate yourself from other candidates through growing in the art and science of sales. In a sea of many qualified investment bankers, soft skills are exactly what employers are looking for.
Communication Effectiveness In Finance
One of the most important of these skills is communication and soft skills. An analysis by LinkedIn showed that 57.9% of new finance hires who changed jobs in 2014-15 listed communication as one of their strong suits (Reed).
Soft skills are essential for business owners to finance their own business, and they come in just as handy when working in the financial services industry. In finance, you can use your knowledge of sales to leverage all kinds of opportunities and take your experience and practice to stand apart from others with similar knowledge and skill sets.
Spending time selling various goods and services has given me a solid understanding of how to speak and think in a way that focuses on the benefit that I can provide to others. Additionally, the financial services industry is changing rapidly, and firms must know their people have the skills they need to maximize their performance and potential.
By developing communication skills, working with clients, and learning how to sell, you can successfully translate your sales skill set to a long-term career in finance. In this series of articles, we will explore multiple areas of finance, how sales relates to each of them, and the tools you can use to set yourself apart from the rest.