Financial Planning

How finance professionals can enjoy a prosperous career

It goes without saying that, if you want to survive in the modern business world, you have to be constantly growing and able to pivot to new developments. 

In a recent roundtable discussion, Managing Director of SDC Wealth, Wessel Botha, and Group COO of the Skills Development Corporation, Gareth Bird, shared their insights on how business professionals, particularly those in the financial sector, can stay competitive in 2022 and beyond. 

Why is upskilling so important

“The finance industry, like many other industries, is ever-evolving and a demand for new skills arises almost daily. Upskilling yourself ensures that you can meet new demands as and when they come about. Forgetting all this, it allows you to experience personal and career growth which you would have otherwise missed out on.” says Botha. 

He continues, “Here’s an example from the financial sector. A sales agent can stay a sales agent forever if they so choose. Conversely, by upskilling themselves, they create a pathway to becoming fully-fledged financial advisors. They can even take their pick of specialisation when they’ve gained the right qualifications. A prosperous career starts (and thrives) with upskilling and study.”

What area of skills development should a finance professional focus on

Specialisation is the name of the game. This is, at least, according to both Botha and Bird. 

Botha offers another example from the financial services industry, “The financial services industry is incredibly broad and there are various opportunities available. Within the insurance industry, there is a migration away from generalist advice and a move towards specialised advice. Look at short-term insurance as an example. There’s a breakdown between personal lines, commercial lines, and specialised insurance. Each of these demands a specific skillset which plays to the strengths of different individuals.”

Advice for young professionals 

If you are looking at giving yourself a competitive edge, complementary skills should become your focus. That is, you should identify how you can best enhance the skills you already boast. 

Botha recommends attending various product trainings, as well as attending personal skills courses, such as communication and presentation. Bird, on the other hand, recommends identifying where there’s room for future growth and focusing on acquiring skills in those areas. 

“Accounting as we know it will be 90% automated by 2035 and the only real survivors in that space will be software and data specialist and ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) specialists. Also, data is the new gold, so if you’re looking to add future-proof skills to your arsenal, look at things like data science, risk management, and even coding. You may specialise in other areas, but these skills will never go to waste.” says Bird. 

This applies to fields outside of the financial sector. In the tech sector, for example, a project manager with experience in software development is in a more advantageous position than a project manager without these skills. Likewise, a logistics manager with an understanding of employee gamification will experience fewer road accidents than a logistics manager without these insights. 

There are resources indicating the trajectory of almost every industry known today, so this should be your starting point. Identify future demands and acquire skills and education centred around that. 

Tips, outside of skills development, for young finance professionals

“Find a mentor that is accessible and able to field all your questions and who will guide you through your career. Try to find someone with at least 10 to 15 years more experience than you so that you can leverage their insight. They will be able to assist you in identifying where you can focus your upskilling too. 

Also, read. Read anything and everything that allows you to stay up to date with macro and micro economic landscapes. Resources such as “the Economist” and “the Star Business Report” are fantastic, easy to digest, and will keep you at the forefront of all happenings.” says Bird. 

If you are interested in gaining the skills you need to future-proof your career, visit the SDC website here. The Skills Development Corporation renders excellent and affordable need-specific training to all companies and individuals.

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