How to plan your career in the investment industry

Britain’s financial services sector employs well over one million people – suggesting that there’s a real appetite for careers in fields such as investment. And with many investment bankers capable of earning a six figure sum each year, it’s no surprise. But what does a career in the investment sector look like – and how can it best be planned for? This article will explore these questions.

Company – or independent?

If you’ve decided you want to pursue a career in the investment industry, congratulations! Your next step will be to decide whether you want to work for a company or work for yourself. Working for an institutional investor has its advantages: it means you don’t bear the risks involved to the same degree as if you invested on behalf of clients yourself, and it also means you can secure both a salary and some training from the very start rather than having to build up a client base.

One big advantage of going independent, however, is that there’s more flexibility to try out different asset classes and see what works for you. Trading contracts for difference is simpler to do as an individual, as you can simply sign up to an online broker and experiment. And with the Internet offering opportunities for retail investors to invest in all sorts of asset types including foreign exchange and stocks, it’s never been easier to go it alone.

Qualifications and skills

Strictly speaking, it’s not necessary to have any qualifications in particular in order to become an investor. The “barrow boys” of the 1980s, for example, were often drawn from social backgrounds where elite educations were relatively common, while for many individual investors all that’s required to get started is a lump sum of cash. But to secure a job at an institution which invests in this modern age, it’s normally the case that you’ll need to provide evidence of a degree qualification – especially one from a reputable university. A degree which shows statistical or analytical skill sets, meanwhile, often goes down well with major institutional hirers.

Endurance and stamina

Finally, it’s worth working on your personal endurance skills in order to ensure you can get over the toughest bits of the job when they arise. Investment bankers are known for working long hours, and individual investors will often find they often have to work anti-social hours in order to make sure they access global markets at the right time. While the rewards are high, the effort is too – so bear that in mind.

The investment industry is one which offers plenty of rewards – and that’s no doubt one of the reasons it appeals to so many people. But it’s also one which comes with challenges. You’ll have to make some difficult decisions, such as whether to go it alone or work for a firm – all of which come with their own pros and cons. And you’ll also need to build your CV and your personal skill set, too. But by planning ahead, it’s possible to achieve these goals and enter the investment industry effectively.