Ask James Caan – Issue 118
This week I’d like to explore the challenges facing finance professionals looking to pursue a career in investment management.
Take this email from Uzair, an ACCA finalist with experience as an assistant accountant. He started investing in the stock market to help fund his studies, only to discover this is a career path he is keen to pursue.
He tells me he has applied to several investment management firms, but unfortunately, to no avail.
He asked me:
‘Do you have any advice as to how I can get my step into the world of investment management?’
Uzair, a career in investment management is extremely competitive. Not only are you competing in a candidate-rich, job short market, but the effects of the economy are having a powerful impact on all markets and shifting the contour of requirements.
One way to up your game and begin to really shine is re-evaluating your CV. Having looked at your resume, I can see you’ve obviously put a lot of effort in. It’s clear, well structured – you’re off to a great start. You follow fundamental advice and it’s relatively easy to scan.
Persistence, motivation, creativity and an analytical mindset are necessities of working in the investment management industry. And from looking at your CV, Uzair, I can see that you already demonstrate some of these traits. But the challenge for you is demonstrating this value to prospective employers.
To begin with, consider the career path you’re interested in pursuing. There are a wide variety of positions within the realm of investment management, including portfolio management, investment research and sales & marketing.
Would you like to work in research where you will be learning the intricacies of a company or industry to provide essential information to investors? Perhaps your talents lie in identifying new clients and maintaining relationships and you’d be better suited to a sales career?
It’s crucial you understand the financial industry – and, in particular, where you want to work within it so you can clearly – and convincingly – explain why the role appeals to you and how you will add value to an organisation.
Secondly, consider the type of company you would like to work for in order to hone your job seeking efforts. What company size would you like to target?
You mentioned you were due to finish your ACCA. This is a great added advantage to your application and will help ease the transition into investment management by demonstrating your commitment and understanding of the industry.
Make sure you include extra-curricular activities within your resume to differentiate yourself, such as volunteering and work experience.
When deciding what content to include, ask yourself: is this piece of information relevant to me getting this particular job? For example, instead of listing your previous responsibilities, why not replace them with your achievements within each job?
Ensure to conduct both online and offline job searching activities. In terms of offline activity, I’d suggest trying your contacts you would have built up in your last role. After all, sometimes it’s not what you know, but who you know. It may also be worth cold calling firms to bring your resume to their attention. Online activity should include using industry specific job boards, such as GAAPweb.
Ultimately, Uzair, the competition for jobs is fierce but if you demonstrate your value and what sets you apart from your competition, a career in investment management might not be as far away as you first think.