Accounting & Finance: what to expect

After graduating, I immediately started the job hunt, because it is what the ‘rents said I should do. I made the mistake of not exploring other options such as travelling or opportunities like Mountbatten Institute.

I found a job near home that I thought looked ideal, paid pretty averagely and all with very little effort. I had done a placement year in Finance so figured I should carry along that path. The post grad job I then started at was a Business Analyst role and required me to start studying for CIMA, something I was seriously not keen on doing. I ended up delaying the start of the CIMA qualifications by 6 months, saying I wasn’t ready to start studying for exams again.

I also found out after a month of working there that the company had just been acquired by an American firm and it was more than likely that there were going to be some “organisational changes”, which is code for redundancies. After seven months of employment there, seven month-end processes and countless disagreements with the boss, I decided it seriously was not for me anymore and handed in my notice.

My advice for applying for finance roles are thus:

1.       First and foremost, be prepared for more exams. Be it for accounting or investment roles, finance positions will more often than not require further study (usually sponsored by the firm). Studying for CIMA, for example, at the company I worked for, was provided for by them, but at a cost. The course takes three years to complete, and the firm expect you to complete all three years whilst with them, plus a further two before you can leave without having to pay them back. So what starts off as a three year commitment, ends up as a five year one, so you must be sure that you like not only the course you will be studying for, but the firm and the team you work with, as you will be there a while.

2.       Second, ensure you do a LOT of background research into what role EXACTLY you would like to be in. The amount of variance in finance roles is unbelievable, some extremely tedious and boring, some very fast paced and stressful. The bottom line is though, if you are not good at maths and don’t have an analytical brain, finance is not for you.

3.       Be prepared for maths tests in interviews, particularly for London roles, especially for investment/wealth management roles.

4.       Make sure you are comfortable with the potential manager you will work for. Finance Directors are notoriously grumpy and absolute perfectionists.

5.       Finally, do not choose finance as a career just because the pay packets tend to be greater. You must have a love for the job and/or a keen interest in the sector.

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