April 12, 2024

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6 things to consider before choosing a career in banking, finance sector

3 min read
6 things to consider before choosing a career in banking, finance sector

By India Today Education Desk: Choosing a career can be a complex task. Passion is an ideal starting point, but passion without skills, or without the right compensation, might lead you to rethink your career choice.

For most fresh graduates who are mulling over their options, the single biggest need is information. With information on multiple options, they are able to choose what suits them best. Over the years, banking and finance have been a popular career choice.

According to Professor Indrajit Lahiri, who works as a Professor of Practice at the Fortune Institute of International Business (FIIB) in New Delhi, it is important to consider the following factors when selecting a career in the banking and finance sector:

1. COHORT

They say it’s easier to be an A player when you are surrounded by ambitious, well-trained colleagues. With several tailwinds in their favour, banks have traditionally attracted the finest talent. This means recruits – whether out of university or lateral hires – are cohorted by some of the brightest minds. The hiring process is thorough, with a bias towards recruiting from top universities offering banking-related electives. There is more rigour in the HR process, and the meritocracy that recruits want to see in their dream company has a realistic chance in banks.

2. COMPENSATION

In order to be a beehive for talent, banks have to be among the top percentile in compensation and benefits. Apart from salaries, bonuses and attractive stock options, banks were the first to offer creative perks that meant as much to attract as to retain talent. Many of these packages have a direct relation to deals and bottom-line results. Equally importantly, compensation gaps between employees of similar vintage creep in relatively early, with bias towards unique skills that are in short supply.

3. CUSTOMER FIRST

Competition is fierce, and banks have evolved to keep a customer-centric approach. International banks are painstakingly creating their ‘glocal’ (think global, act local) brand. Whether it’s in the design of products, contact center dashboards, loan turnaround times etcâ€æretail banks have continuously used technology to make careers on the frontline an exciting place to be! And banks reach out to customers, not wait for them. So, depending on the segment they are focusing on, bank officers dress and talk the language of their customers – from the simple to the pin-stripe.

4. SCALE

Banking licences are precious, and once they have been established, banks have never been shy about scaling up. This uber reach has given them new markets, branches, customers and employees. A far-flung salesforce for products like credit cards is like an FMCG distribution network. This expansion has created organisational structures with increasing levels of responsibility and upskilling opportunities. Multifaceted employees have been in demand for accelerated compensation.

5. DIGITAL

It has long been a lucrative career choice for IT engineers, even before digital banking and the fintech revolution. Demand has outstripped supply, while Indian products have expanded globally. Now that money transactions have become more complex, banking has become a heady mix of tech revolutions and startups.

6. LEARNING AND DEVELOPMENT

Banks have a wide set of areas for specialisation, and the leading banks have a penchant for rotating their staff, leading to prolific skill accumulation. This gives employees a chance to match their interests (or passions) to departments. Most banks have very well-planned training programmes that cover both technical and soft skills. These are invaluable exposures for staff at various stages of their careers. Some of these programs involve international travel, which could lead to opportunities for transfer to branches or subsidiaries overseas.

While a career in banking and finance has many attractions and upsides, one has to be careful. Banks do fail. As an employee, it could mean a stressful time unless one is smart and proactive. Some banks have faced dwindling or stagnating revenues, leading to pressures on costs – leading to redundancies.

But on the whole, careers in banks and finance should be seen as rewards for an excellent education, with an attitude of relishing upcoming challenges. These jobs can be done with a vast array of skills, in a safe environment that can offer huge growth opportunities. And yes, lest I forget, banks pay very well!

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