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"Trust But Verify Your Work...
What surprised me the most about this career is how much of an asset knowing Microsoft Excel is. I was able to automate budget reports my pinging our budget data from another application into Excel and formatting it nicely. The last person in my job did this task manually, which took dozens of hours. Trust me, get to know MS Excel very well." (Management Analyst; 2013)
"The Value Of An Ethics Education...
I was surprised by all the conflicts of interests inherent in finance businesses" (Financial Analyst; 2013)
"Take Advantage Of All Opportunities Given To You...
I am happy with the diversity of my work day. I am constantly doing new things and working on different projects. The satisfaction in my work comes from constantly being challenged." (Financial Analyst; 2013)
"Stay Current On Your Industry...
I think most people would be surprised by how much responsibility they are asked to handle. It can be stressful and tense, but if you have good colleagues it can also be fun. Finance takes a lot of ability with numbers but you also have to think and to present your ideas to others." (Treasury Analyst; 2013)
"Small Company, Big Opportunities...
While in college, I assumed that accounting was always straight-forward and reports were always put together in the same way. After joining the workforce, I was surprised to find just how much critical analysis is involved in general accounting, and how much freedom I had to create reports and present information differently. I am happily surprised at how much independence I have, and find it exciting to analyze data and use it to tell the stories of the numbers." (Financial Analyst; 2013)
"Seek Out Mentors To Help Guide Your Career...
I am most surprised at how precarious this type of work is. Our existence was very much in the hands of the CEO or CFO. They had no loyalty to us and when another arrangement (outsourcing) seemed to be more attractive, they let everyone go." (Equity Analyst; 2013)
"People, Books, And Practices To Avoid...
One of the things that has surprised me the most about this profession is how fulfilling it can be when you're beginning to see the fruits of your labor. I think this happens in part because investing in stocks, although simple, is such a hard endeavor, that undoubtedly any success is likely to bring about a great deal of satisfaction. Many people try to make money in stocks, some think it looks pretty easy from the outside looking in, while failing to realize, actually, that making money consistently in the stock market is one of the hardest things to do in the world. Another thing that has been surprising is the amount of work involved. I figured I'd be able to work long-hours and then pretty much turn off my work mode, but that hasn't been the case, which is actually perfectly fine with me since I have a strong interest in things investing related. To succeed in this field, especially if you're starting off with zero professional knowledge or experience and without a mentor, as is the case with me, you're probably going to have to make this your life which is why you either have to love it or you're better off getting another job. One of the main reasons you're going to have to love it or have a strong interest in it is because you'll likely be faced with challenges that will lead you to take the rational route of quitting. Why else would a rational person put up with a lot of pain if it's not because (1) they have confidence in themselves, and (2) they enjoy what they're doing to where putting up with the learning curve isn't too big of a deal." (Money Manager; 2013)
"People Drive The World...
I was surprised to find how most of the stuff that was taught in school is not necessary on the job. The work I do is more about discovering the needs of others than working out formulas like in school." (Financial Analyst; 2013)
"Outshining Your Pier Will Get You A Head...
I was very surprised at how exciting it is to be working with other companies and providing accurate feedback to help other companies succeed and prosper." (Financial Analyst; 2013)
"Messing Up Is Good For You...
You thank banking is all suits and a company that makes sure everyone is some kind of yuppie nightmare who are trying to be upper class. My department is filled with people with rock and punk haircuts and gigantic sports fans. I thought these people would be uptight but they are very down to earth working class types." (Loan Underwriter; 2013)
What has surprised me the most about my profession is that the gap between the knowledge you graduate with from college and the knowledge necessary to actually be effective in the workplace, is very large. You need a company with a good training program or a manager who is willing to teach you the things they never even mention in the classroom." (Financial Analyst; 2013)
"Loving What You Do...
I'm rather surprised at how repetitive financial analysis is. I have a fascination with numbers, and the lack of variety is a big turn-off." (Mathematician/Financial Analyst; 2013)
"Know What You're Getting Into...
I was surprised by the amount of hours I have to work each week in order to be successful. I work 60-plus hours per week in order to meet my goals, and this seems to be pretty typical in my field." (Financial Analyst; 2013)
"Just Start Small And Overtime Your Small Work Will Get Noticed And You Will Be Able To Expand...
Most people think that being an financial analyst is boring, but I love the job and people who I work with. While younger analysts such as myself tend to do a lot of data gathering, financial modeling and spreadsheet maintenance, more senior analysts tend to spend more of their time developing investment theses, speaking with company management teams and other investors, and marketing ideas (if they are on the sell-side)." (Financial Analyst; 2013)
"Invest In Yourself...
Everyone I encounter thinks I make a lot of money. I have a relatively standard pay but have many opportunities to advance in the future. They always ask me advise on what to buy as if I am a god that can predict the markets." (Financial Analyst; 2013)
"Internships Are Helpful...
I was surprised by how much of what I learned is used on a day to day basis. Previously I had assumed I would be using very little of my knowledge gained but that is just not the case." (Financial Analyst; 2013)
"If You Want To Succeed, Be A Leader...
I was surprised at how much time must be spent tracking down payments from clients. Always give as much time as possible for payments, transfers, and approvals." (Small Business Owner; 2013)
"I You Enjoy Crunching Numbers...
What is great about this degree is the diversity of positions available to those with a degree in finance. Most people think of working in banks with that degree yet anywhere they need people to understand numbers and analyzing those numbers need analysts." (Financial Analyst; 2013)
"How To Start In Business...
I was surprised now absolutely critical finance is in business and personal life. The richest in the world are more or less connected to finance." (Credit Analyst; 2013)
"Get To Know A Lot Of People...
When starting my career, I didn't realize how competitive everyone is and how fast paced everyone moves. I find that living a fast paced life makes everything much more interesting." (Financial Analyst; 2013)
nowadays very difficult to project economic and financial indicators, and big difference between practical and theory of financial issues" (Financial Analyst; 2013)
"Don't Be Naive...
I was surprised that the business world is very cut throat, people are not as friendly as they were when I was in school. Back then people helped each other, now its a every man for himself mentality." (Financial Analyst; 2013)
"Changing Companies Is The Best Way To Get Higher Pay...
I didn't know I would have to attend so many meetings with my career in finance. You also learn so much on the jobs as opposed to school. I thought I was ready to jump right into the job after all those years of studying finance at school but the learning curve is steep when you first start your career." (Cash Analyst; 2013)
Most people might be surprised to learn that many people in the corporate world are actually helpful and friendly both on the job and in networking situations. It is not as dog-eat-dog as one might think." (Financial Analyst; 2013)
"What surprised me about my profession is that, numbers and a computer screen are not dull at all. I'm surprised by how intense and fast paced it can all be. One must incorporate the values of a pro athlete in order to succeed." (Financial Analyst; 2013)
"I was surprised to see how much liberal arts skills, such as reading, writing, and research, were needed for a somewhat technical position. Analysts at my organization are expected to possess superior communication skills." (Analyst; 2013)
"I was surprised that an analyst requires good presentation skills. It wasn't all about number crunching and data analysis. There was a lot of client interaction. I needed to present everything effectively to gain the trust of clients." (Analyst; 2013)
"It is a tough environment to work in. A hell of a lot of politics and personalities you have to manage" (Financial Analyst; 2013)
"In my field of work, you it would expect it to be strenuous and be subject to high stress levels. It is actually the complete opposite being a analyst allows me to come in contact with many different people groups. It has been a great benefactor in aiding me in my quest for appreciating other cultures and has made me very intuitive on global markets and awareness." (Financial Analyst; 2012)
"I was surprised to discover just how deeply important a liberal arts education has been in my career analyzing nonprofit effectiveness. When you choose a field that is relatively new like optimal philanthropy, almost every aspect of everything that you do requires a great deal of judgment which the various seemingly unrelated aspects of my education provided so very well." (Analyst; 2012)
Consultant: "The work can be fulfilling. You will get out of it what you put into it. The people you work with will make it enjoyable. There is a great feeling of camaraderie with your colleagues. The hours can be long and go late into the night. It is dependent on the season and the job type, but there will be overtime involved. For some people, the travel can become too burdensome, especially those with families." (2011)
Credit Analyst: "The best part of the job is getting to help people get the credit that they need. Being able to resolve the problems that they face in the application process is a lot of fun and rewarding. It is fun to be able to figure out what the problem is and to be able to fix it. The worst part of the job is dealing with the irate customers who are not happy with the decision that was made. Some people feel that the credit line is less then they deserve and do not understand that we are in a business that needs to limit its risks. Getting yelled out on the phone is never fun." (2011)
Senior Director, Financial Planning & Analysis: "Throughout my career I've sought out jobs that are broad in responsibilities, contextually relevant, and "matter". The best part of my job is it encompasses all three of these elements, especially the 'matters' part. It matters that our work is done on time at high quality (always right) because the Board of Directors, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO), the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) and the functional groups take decisions based on the work we do. The worst part of my job is sometimes the cycles seem to repeat and can take on a "transactional" component. That's only ~10% of the job." (2011)
Financial Analyst: "The best part of my job is helping the Regional Managers and President of the company review all of the data in an organized way. My reports help to improve things at our communities that we manage. They help us to see if we need to raise rental prices, if we can lower expenses or if things need to be changed. I enjoy putting the data in a great spreadsheet, figuring out new formulas and creating nice charts and graphs. The worst part of my job is that it can sometimes get a little boring. A lot of the reports I do have to be done each month, so sometimes those get a little dull. However, I always have new projects to work on new things that I get to work on." (2011)
Pension Consultant: "The best part of my job is that I get to use my math skills a good portion of the day. I love math and working with numbers all day is fun for me. I love trying to find out why something is not working when I am trying to run a test. I spend a good part of my day trying to solve a problem, such as checking and analyzing data to determine if the test results are reasonable and accurate. The worst part of my job is the volume of work during our busy season. We typically work every weekend from January through March 15th. We work late each night, and we are dependent on our computer systems and clients to complete the testing in a timely manner. So it can be stressful during our busy season and our personal lives tend to take a back seat during this time" (2010)
Financial Reporting Analyst: "The best part of my job is working with numbers. I like to be able to analyze reports and to research differences. If two reports are supposed to balance and they don't, there's always a reason and I like trying to find it. I also like the fact that I can plan my day on my own, setting my own priorities. The worst part about my job is when Paris gives me a deadline for submitting a certain report and they don't take into account U.S. holidays. Paris doesn't celebrate the Fourth of July; so if they want a report on July 4, I need to work on that holiday to get it done." (2010)
Credit Officer: "The toughest parts of the job are time and people. Time because the job is 24/7 so you need to be available and be informed all the time. Internal systems for the most part are batched outside the US, Europe and Japan. And information is only as good as the terminals. People because there are never enough qualified individuals to manage all the stuff on our collective plates. Training and retention of people are key attributes for a manager." (2010)
Financial Analyst: "I like the variety of customers and proposals. I also enjoy not being tied to a traditional accounting or finance calendar ("close"). I like having very intense bouts of work: deadlines and pressure to perform. But I also enjoy having down time since not every day is intense and full of deadlines. I don't like office politics that come with any job in any company, but I deal with it. I also do not like the documentation aspect of my job. But it is important enough so I try and make sure I do it as well as possible." (2010)
Financial Analyst: "Make sure you prepare appropriately prior to starting your career. Unpaid or paid internships in college will do you wonders when you are first starting out in the business world." (2013)
Financial Analyst: "It is important to network early. You would be amazed how knowing the right people can help you out on your career path." (2013)
Credit Analyst: "Get an accounting or finance degree then start interviewing with Fortune 500 companies. Decide after a few years of experience if you want smaller." (2013)
Financial Analyst: "One of the most beneficial tips I can give you is to start small, don't think you can multitask and do one million things at once. It won't impress the big boys." (2013)
Financial Analyst: "I wasn't quite sure in what direction I wanted to go after graduation. Working in the finance department of a relatively small but international organization gave me the ability to quickly learn about a wide range of topics, and pick and choose what I wanted to focus on. I'm able to understand all aspects of the financial cycle, but have been fortunate enough to be able to focus on my interests." (2013)
Mathematician/Financial Analyst: "If you have a love for numbers and you enjoy a calm, steady, predictable work environment, then this is for you. There is so much to do in the field of Mathematics, so there is always room to explore!" (2013)
Loan Underwriter: "Messing up is key. You never fail at anything you never really find reasons to change how you do things and then you're 27 doing things the same way you did when you were 22. Your methods should always be evolving." (2013)
Money Manager: "If you're going to start off investing money in the stock market with zero experience, knowledge, and no mentor, as in my case, I would advise a few things. First of all, learn from the following individuals, read anything and everything they've written, basically: Peter Lynch, Warren Buffett, Charlie Munger, Phil Fisher, and Benjamin Graham. There are two books that I would place at the top of the list: Poor Charlie's Almanack: The Wit and Wisdom of Charles T. Munger and The Essays of Warren Buffett. Both can be found on Amazon, although you might be able to get a better price for Poor Charlie's through its original websites (easily searchable through Google. Here are a few other books on investing that are considered classics: One up on Wall Street, Common Stocks and Uncommon Profits, The Intelligent Investor, and Security Analysis. Here's another piece of wisdom that has served me well. When you start investing money in stocks, start off small. If you inherited $100K from your grandmother, for instance, don't use all of it to begin learning the investment game. Use maybe a quarter of it, a relatively small amount, as the learning curve will undoubtedly cause losses and you'll give yourself an opportunity to prove to yourself via good, consistent performance that you're worth of investing the rest of your money. Also, consider avoiding leverage (borrowing money) and shorting stocks. I tried both, as I'm one of those folks who has to learn certain things from my own experience, and can say that eliminating both of these practices has been God-sent, so to speak." (2013)
Financial Analyst: "The best piece of advice I could give is to connect with people and work on your people skills. Networking is a very important skill these days and that can not be overstated enough." (2013)
Cash Analyst: "One of the best ways to get a promotion is to get a few years of experience then start looking for a job with another company rather than waiting for a promotion at your current company. Make sure you are ready and willing to learn new things, even if they seem to be outside the scope of finance." (2013)
Financial Analyst: "Don't be naive, it if it seems to good to be true it most definitely is." (2013)
Financial Analyst: "Setting a solid social network is very beneficial because you have people to rely on." (2013)
Small Business Owner: "Creating a business from nothing is tough, but not impossible. The most beneficial piece of advice I would give is to find a good solid group of people to work for you, not with you, to build a business. If roles are not assigned by a leader, nothing will get done." (2013)
Financial Analyst: "Make your most important investment yourself. Have definable goals that you review DAILY." (2013)
Treasury Analyst: "You will be asked to make decisions for your company that will be impacted by outside economic conditions. It's extremely important to stay aware of what is going on. Spend some time every day reading the news, both general and business-specific. Know your industry. Keep up to date on changes, whether its regarding technology, new products, or changes to the legal or regulatory framework." (2013)
Equity Analyst: "For any career in investments seek out a mentor who will offer guidance. This type of work can be filled with landmines and bad people who will not help you progress so you have to be very proactive to make sure you are making the right career moves." (2013)
Financial Analyst: "I would recommend that you are aware of the amount of time that you must put into this career to advance and be successful. This is not the type of career where you can expect to work 9-5 each day and quickly advance your career." (2013)
Financial Analyst: "Do your research before deciding on this career. If you do not like working with numbers this is probably not the program for you. The program is one that requires great dedication and proficiency in math skills." (2013)
Financial Analyst: "You should be open to any offer that is given to you by one of your managers. Especially as a new worker you need to take these opportunities and differentiate yourself from the pack" (2013)
Financial Analyst: "Do you best to take an ethics course, this will keep you on the straight and narrow which most often leads to success." (2013)
Management Analyst: "Be confident in your work, but don't only trust your eyes. It's a good idea to have a coworker or supervisor verify your numbers before submitting reports. An even better practice is to double and triple check your numbers over a period of time and understand prior-year trends." (2013)
Financial Analyst: "Make sure you have a clear idea of what your career path is going to be and find a mentor early on that can show you the ropes and the lingo so you are not clueless in your first job." (2013)
Financial Analyst: "Always work harder then your piers, a good leader and mentor will notice your effort when you go above and beyond. Which will lead to moving up the latter much quicker in your career." (2013)
Financial Analyst: "One of the important factor to have good projections to collect a lot of information and use them for your analysis" (2013)
Consultant: "Be sure to practice your presentation and speaking skills. These do not come to every person naturally, and, more importantly, everyone can benefit from repeated practice. Writing skills are also important. There is a different tone in which to write for every occasion and it pays to know which those are. For your own enjoyment, take courses in what you are passionate about doing. This type of work does not need specialized knowledge, but only well-rounded people." (2011)
Credit Analyst: "This is a job that requires a person to make decisions, and you can not be afraid to make them. Not every choice will be perfect, but you have to be able to trust your instincts and training. It is wise to try to learn as many different aspects of the job as possible. The work varies depending on the time of year, and people who are cross trained will always find work to do. This job requires a tough skin. It is nothing personal and you need to realize that people on the phone are not always angry at you. Learning proper phone skills and being able to communicate effectively is very important." (2011)
Senior Director, Financial Planning & Analysis: "1. Continuous Improvement: Identify two or three mentors and meet with them regularly, seeking feedback on ways you can get better. Ask for feedback, and take responsibility for getting better. 2. Networking matters! Meet as many people as possible and make the effort to stay connected because you will rely upon those contacts for jobs in five, ten, or twenty years. Tools like LinkedIn make it easier than ever, so use these social media tools. 3. Be a leader, set your own path. Set short and long term goals for yourself, set a course to achieve them, and go for it." (2011)
Financial Analyst: "While my actual position may seem a little boring, my field is actually very fun. Property management can be great. There are a lot of courses now to train for property management jobs. Taking those courses in college would be helpful." (2011)
Pension Consultant: "My advice is that in order to be happy with this career choice, you should meet some if not all of the criteria listed next. You should have strong math skills and enjoy solving problems. You should also have good communication skills as you will be speaking with your clients each day, explaining what information you need them to provide to you in order for you to complete the tests for them. Strong organizational skills and being detail-oriented will help you to succeed in completing projects prior to deadlines." (2010)
Financial Reporting Analyst: "Be sure that you enjoy paying attention to detail; working with numbers often means getting very detailed. It is not a job where shortcuts can be taken. Also, take accounting courses. A degree in accounting may or may not be a job requirement (for me, it wasn't, because of my job experience), but you need to have a working knowledge of accounting to perform the duties. I went back to school to take accounting classes when I realized that I wanted to be promoted within the organization. Develop a good knowledge of Excel, as it is the basis for so many reports." (2010)
Credit Officer: "1. To work in a global business you need to know geography and history. Most people are proud of their country and you will win kudos if you know more than how to order from a restaurant menu. 2. Read widely and from varied sources. Too many Americans are happy with the US media's view of the world, which is how they make their money but not how you can know and understand global trends. I've always found the "Economist" to be the best weekly magazine. 3. Take a course in accounting or finance to learn the language of business. Most of what you learn in business is on-the-job, but it helps if you don't need a refresher course in terminology walking in the door." (2010)
Financial Analyst: "Learn the technical aspects of what you are trying to help sell. Just because you are in a finance job does not mean technical knowledge is irrelevant. The more you know about product(s), the industry you are in, the industry you are selling to and the systems your company uses - whether spreadsheets alone or multiple integrated software systems - the more valuable you will be." (2010)