Careers in the Financial Services Industry

By Ruth Manimtim-Floresca

Ask kids these days what they want to be when they grow up and they’d most likely give you replies based on what they observe adults think are lucrative jobs at the moment like becoming a nurse or an IT expert. However, there are other jobs that can also be rewarding such as those found in the financial services industry.

Here, Hiyasmin C. Mattison, Head of Staffing & Talent Development for Sun Life Financial Philippines, answers common questions job seekers ask about the finance sector.

Q: What kinds of establishments comprise the Financial services industry?

A: At its most basic, the financial services industry covers all firms whose primary services involve dealing with money. Companies that are in the business of managing, investing, transferring and lending money are all included in this sector. As such, everything from small, local banks to multinational investment banks to insurance companies are considered to be in the financial services industry.

Q: What career opportunities are available from each sector? Among these, what are the most in-demand jobs at the moment?

A: For fresh graduates, entry level positions in financial services cover everything from front line customer service posts such as tellers in banks, accounting clerks, or assistant positions in the various finance sub-functions such as Treasury, Audit, or Investments. Financial services representatives for business process outsourcing companies are also becoming more popular. These kinds of positions are very frequently available to anyone looking for a job in financial services. Some banks also have fast-track management development programs which are highly competitive but very popular with fresh graduates at the Bachelor’s or Master’s level who want to progress through their career as quickly as possible. For mid-career professionals, each sub-function will have its own career track, and many finance professionals progress through the ranks within the same function. The finance industry tends to be flatter, so there are comparatively more opportunities for moving quickly up the ranks. It is also possible to move from one financial institution to another or from a consulting firm to a bank or insurance company or into the finance department of a company in the consumer goods or services industry.Working as a financial advisor, on the other hand, is a viable and highly rewarding alternative for people who want to manage their own time and try their hand at growing their own business.

Q: What are the educational qualifications required for securing positions in the finance services industry?

A: Almost all financial institutions will require a Bachelor’s degree in a four-year course. Obviously, accounting roles will tend to require applicants to be CPAs. Degrees in Business Administration or Management, Commerce, Finance, Economics or Business Economics, and Industrial/Management Engineering tend to be preferred, though these are no longer required for certain positions and less so in the fast-track Management Development programs than what was the case several years ago. This is because many companies now recognize that being innovative, creative, and well-rounded may be just as important for future managers and directors than having a degree in your field or industry.

Q: Please share a list of institutes in the Philippines where it’s best to study financial courses and briefly explain why.

A: Any university or college which offers Business, Finance or related courses will be good starting points. Some mid-career professionals opt to take MBAs to strengthen their career prospects. De La Salle University and UP-Diliman offer specialized Master’s degrees in Finance. As a general rule, our company, like many others, does not prefer certain institutions over another as we value diversity within our workforce.

Q: Could you share the average salary brackets of employees in the finance industry?

A: Salary brackets tend to vary greatly depending on the size and scope of the institution and the competencies needed for certain positions, so it could be fairly misleading to indicate salary ranges. Generally, however, financial institutions will have competitive salary and rewards packages. One of the benefits specific to financial institutions is that discounts or preferential rates may be given to employees, such as for housing or car loans. In our company, we offer employee discounts to our products as a way of encouraging our own workforce to experience financial freedom through the wide variety of our offerings.

Q: Which are the most popular employers in the field of financial services?

A: The popularity of a company depends a lot on the prospective employee. Multinational banks with opportunities to travel are very popular with those who wish to be exposed to other working cultures and those who do not have long-term commitments here in the Philippines. Local banks are good choices for those who want to have a stable career with reputable companies. Multinational companies, like Sun Life, offer a good balance, in that we have an international network and an impeccable reputation of stability and integrity in the Philippines.

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