3 Tips for Building a Successful Career in the Financial World

Dan Schawbel's picture
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The workplace has changed over the years and in order to be successful in it, you have to play by a new set of rules and view your career differently. You have to be accountable for yourself and not rely anyone or anything. Your company can merge or acquire another company tomorrow and lay you off.

The workplace is too unpredictable to stay stationary - you have to constantly change. Although there are endless opportunities in the financial world, it's very cutthroat. In order to stand out, you have to be able to take risks, over-deliver for your employer and build up a significant rolodex of people in your industry (and clients).

Here are a few tips to help you grow your career in the financial world:

1. Find a mentor.

One of the best ways to grow your financial knowledge base is to find people that you admire and make them your mentors. This could be your manager, someone else who works at your company, someone you meet at an event or an industry expert you've followed on twitter. When you form these relationships, don't make them one-sided. Try and help your mentor any way that you can so they feel good about helping you in the same regard. Ask your mentor how they got to where they are and advice on how you get achieve the same success. If you eventually want a job like theirs someday, you're going to have to find out what you need to do at every stage of your career to get there.

2. Build your network.

Whether you're a financial advisor or doing corporate finance at a big institution, you should focus on growing your rolodex because it will pay dividends to you in your career. It's all about who you know, who they know and who knows you. You can increase all three by putting yourself out there, talking to more people and going to more industry related events.

These are five rules to follow if you want to build a strong network:

1. Targeting: You should focus on a specific group of people when networking so you can invest in them and not spread yourself too thin. Target those who you can most benefit and who can most benefit from you.

2. Authenticity: If you target the right people, make sure you're genuinely interested in them or else they will know and be turned off. You want to build genuine relationships because fake ones don't last very long.

3. Mutualism: Create relationships where both parties take something from each other. If one party gains much more out of the relationship it won't be a long one.

4. Giving: Help out others before asking for anything in return. When you do this, people will want to support you, without you asking for anything additional.

5. Reconnecting: After you establish your network, make sure you take the time to touch base with them every now and then. If you lose tough with people, it shows a lack of effort.

3. Get certified.

It's essential that you prove yourself through certifications in the financial industry, more so than other industries. One of the most well known certifications is the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA), which tests your knowledge in accounting, ethical and professional standards, portfolio management, economics and security analysis. The two other well known certifications are the Series 6, which gets you licensed to sell securities and the Series 7 which makes you become a Registered Representative of a broker-dealer. If you don't have these already, look into them because they will differentiate you early on in your career.

Mod Note (Andy): Dan Schawbel is a Gen Y career and workplace expert, the Founder of Millennial Branding and the author of Promote Yourself: The New Rules For Career Success (St. Martin's Press).

Comments (4)

Sep 5, 2013

Good stuff, a great mentor can pay dividends. Made a lot of moves in my career as a result.

Sep 5, 2013

I follow Carl Icahn on twitter. Is he my mentor now?

Sep 5, 2013

Can't you only get the series 6 or series 7 if you get sponsored through an employer?

I hope this is better than the last batch of shit you gave me. Produced more wood than Ron Jeremy. I don't want you to yell, "Reco!" anymore. Know what you should yell? "Timber!" Yeah, Mr. Fuckin' wood.

Sep 5, 2013
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