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Top tips for upskilling into a new position

By: Matthew Smith | Finsia's InFinance


Develop an animalistic feel for company valuations, learn new software systems, broaden networks and develop succinct communication skills - these are the things employers are looking for candidates to "upskill" when they are entering a new job in finance.

While experience and education on paper is important - essential in fact - it's some of the additional "learned" skills that will set job seekers and new recruits apart from their peers, senior managers and recruiters in finance suggest.

"Beyond the professional qualifications, I look for an understanding of the credit market that's not just about the numbers. What I'm looking for is an understanding of earnings and profit; what's driving those earnings and what might drive them in the future," says Carl Gunther, a Partner at KPMG Restructuring Advisory, Financial and Operational Turnaround Advice.

Candidates and new recruits will discover it's what they know "beyond the balance sheet" that is most valuable when placed in a fast-paced financial markets environment, Gunther says.

Picking up these skills through professional accreditation not only helps candidates with their knowledge base, it also shows professionalism and commitment to a career path, Gunther emphasizes.

Adoption of technology and use of software has become one of the biggest evolutions in the financial markets profession in the last decade says, Joe McGinty, Marks Sattin associate director of investment operations.

Candidates with programming skills might be highly sort after, but simply having a working knowledge of software systems and implementing plans using software can be a good place to start to upskill into a new role, he says.

"The DNA of someone working in financial markets has changed dramatically in recent years from being based around the broker/dealer relationship, to stemming from software development and implementation," he says.

Even through financial markets have become technology saturated McGinty adds that improving contacts is still a good way for finance candidates to set themselves apart.

"Networking well is something you can always work on to move your career forward in finance," McGinty says.

Amid all the changes and advancements in the financial markets, good communication skills remain highly valued among new employers and key clients, senior managers will attest.

"Clients in turnaround situations tend to be from the 'C-suite' operating under extreme stress and often financial difficulty. In this scenario clear communication is essential," says KPMG's Gunther.

"The ability to write and communicate clearly is a good acquired skill, one everyone can brush up on," he adds.

Finally, Gunther highlights the interpersonal skills he says advisors in finance require to win the trust and confidence of a client when working at the coalface.

"As a trusted advisor you have to sell a service without over or under cooking it," he says.

To do this individuals seeking a "front office" role in financial and capital markets need to fully appreciate the nuances of earnings and valuations.

"Candidates or new recruits who have a broader understading of what's going beyond the numbers are always the most valuable," he adds.

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