What is needed to get a job in financial markets?

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Financial markets have been on a course of change for the last decade. In the last ten years the jobs in financial services firms has changed dramatically. Partly this has been driven by political agendas and new regulations reacting to financial breakdowns in both front and back offices. However, it is the evolving needs of clients and new technology enabling new services that is just as important drivers.

How then is this changing job prospects and what will be the skills required in the future?

What is certain is the old methods of learning on the job has disappeared and this I regret as it was always a sure way of finding talent to fill senior positions and developing the knowledge and skills of young people. Today and in the future, time to learn is very short. People are expected to hit the ground running and already have honed skills and knowledge. This is best achieved by examination and organisations like the CISI in the UK. The CISI is fulfilling this important role as an examination body, providing not just the focus for learning, but creating a community and relationships that can last a lifetime.

People in financial markets today must be computer literate. Not necessarily to programme (although many are leaving school with some capability), but must at least be able to have basic technology skills as financial markets are now more reliant on technology than ever.

Old technology still persists, but new technologies like Blockchain are materialising, and there will be many more. People that can transition from old technology to new and do it risk free will be important. Innovation in developing technology and being able to come up with new ideas of how this can be best applied will also be essential. How new systems might benefit client services and create new revenue streams are vitally important.

We are in the age of Fintech and out of this boom will come some real game changes. Not all will win, but some will be future proofed and create new opportunities for jobs and a different type of person. Maybe these people will be more inclined to take the industry forward rather than the previous generation, that resisted change or at best trod water until retirement.

People will have to be better at developing business relationships, as the industry moves away from central processing as its core value, back to advisory roles, where knowledge and ideas can be sold to the benefit of clients.

Compliance to regulations has been booming for decades, but a time may be with us where transparency is everywhere and it becomes impossible to defraud or embezzle. Opening up of markets, to choice for the client, will create a challenging and competitive environment where people that look to steal, will be quickly found and highlighted. Mostly these people live in the shadows, in the future the shadows will be less.

Whilst technical skills and knowledge requirements will be set at a much higher level, an ethical and moral compass will be a necessity. Although I don’t believe it’s possible to be taught how to be ethical. It can be demonstrated what ethical behaviour is, how it is rewarded and how when breached, it is severely punished. So in the future people that join the financial markets will have much more scrutiny on their characters than ever before.

The financial markets need leaders and industrialists. People that are understand the processes throughout the financial markets, not just their own in-house systems, Greater knowledge of industry relationships and processes will help to create better services for clients.

I believe we will see the financial markets decentralise and this will put far more emphasis on individuals to understand the industry and to utilise their knowledge and skills to benefit clients rather than the corporate. We will see large corporations break up under the strain of maintain profits as the competition increases with much smaller firms attracting business away. We see this already with Crowd funding.

Getting a job in financial markets in the future will be as much in the hands of the individual as it is in the HR department. Finding talent will be a major challenge for financial services firms, but opportunities will be available for people that have talent.

I have a very optimistic outlook for the future of people entering financial markets. However, they must learn from the mistakes of the recent past and follow my guidance, if they are to become the success they want, but also what the industry needs.