Though hit hard by the 2008-2009 financial crisis, the financial industry remains a major source of employment. Opportunities to enter the field are available at all levels of education, and many larger firms seek to develop talent and promote from within the company. Following is a general overview of where those opportunities can be found.
Telephone Customer Service
The traditional gateway to employment in many large companies, telephone customer service in a financial company involves answering phone calls from policy owners and shareholders and researching or resolving issues as appropriate. Financial companies take their "Service Level" - the quickness with which a call is answered - very seriously, and experienced phone representatives can find employment even in a down economy. Be aware, however, that telephone customer service in general has a high burnout rate, and companies are increasingly experimenting with outsourcing part or all of such functions overseas.
Another "gateway" function, Operations representatives in financial companies are involved with the actual execution of purchase and sale orders, as well as the opening and closing of accounts and updating account files. Operations positions are among the most common, and have the largest number of competing applicants. Keep in mind that, however, that these functions are also increasingly being outsourced overseas.
Portfolio Management and Analysis
Mutual Funds - the workhorse of the financial services industry in the early 21st century - essentially sell shares of a investment portfolio made up of the shareholders' pooled assets. Even passively managed index funds, however, require managers and analysts to decide which stocks and bonds to add to the fund's portfolio and to actually purchase those stocks and bonds on the open market. They also must monitor the money coming into or leaving the fund, and adjust the size of the fund's portfolio accordingly. These positions generally require a college degree - graduate level degrees or higher are increasingly the norm. Earnings potential (and stress level) is high for those who rise to the Fund Manager level.
Employment in the financial industry, particularly for phone and operations rep positions, is fairly straightforward - even the most ardent networker must go through the company's human resources office. Many large firms offer bonuses to employees who refer qualified candidates for hire, so getting an insider's view of a company and its culture may not be overly difficult. As with many large companies, financial companies tend to utilize temporary workers at first, when coming off a recession. Those seeking to get the proverbial foot in the door in this challenging economy would be well advised to register with agencies specializing in the field.