While people in creative professions often assume that the finance sector consists only of accountants, bankers and stockbrokers, nothing could be further from the truth, and there’s tremendous scope for an interesting and enjoyable career in the money business.
From working as a bank teller to managing an international lending company or insurance provider, the range of employment opportunities in the sector is wide, and the potential for commanding a higher than average salary is definitely there, depending on your level of experience.
Almost any position in this area requires you to have good skills in maths, accounting and statistics, and while some jobs are suitable for school leavers, many others require tertiary qualifications in business and accounting, along with strong technology skills.
Entry-level opportunities in the finance sector include junior accounts officer roles in which you will code invoices, process reconciliations, check purchase orders and delivery dockets, record payments and communicate effectively both inside and out of the company you’re working for.
The national average salary for this type of role is around $50,000 per year although junior employees often start on something in the region of $38,000.Working for a bank is another entry-level possibility, especially if you are well-organised and enjoy people contact.
Obviously maths skills are an advantage, as is computer literacy.Many bank jobs take place behind the scenes and although automation has changed demands on the banking workforce, there is still good career scope for the right people.
A bank teller can make around $44,000 per annum while more specialist positions such as senior personal bankers can command salaries in the $80,000+ range.Meanwhile, further up the banking ladder and much more risky, but also better paid, is investment banking, wherein you assist your clients in finding investors to fund their projects.
The average salary in this sector is around $77,000 per annum, but there are people earning well into the six-figure band, with bonuses and profit share added in.
Insurance is another big area within the financial sector and it’s a complex industry with plenty of room for career progression.
Beyond the people who answer the phones or sell you the policy are other roles; consulting on insurance matters, offering financial advice, acting as an assessor and even managing insurance IT and software. And, of course, insurance isn’t limited to house, car, contents and commercial premises, there’s also health insurance, life insurance and income protection insurance, so the possibilities in terms of employment are substantial.
Average salaries range between about $49,000 for a claims consultant to around $71,000 for an underwriter, but there is a wide range around these figures, depending on the different insurance companies and the seniority of different roles.
Many good finance positions come within the public service sector and the Inland Revenue Department is a big civil employer here in New Zealand with over 5000 kiwis working within its branches.
Once again, while customer services at the front line provide a good way of getting into tax-related employment, there’s much more happening in the backend with positions for business reporting analysts, strategy advisors, service leaders, marketing advisors, debt collectors, fraud investigators and a raft of support staff opportunities.
Customer services positions start at around $35,000 per annum and senior accountants are some of the best paid IRD employees, with annual salaries in the region of $110,000.Naturally, accountants, at all levels, make up a large proportion of the finance sector.
Sometimes regarded as a dull occupation, accountancy is actually one of the most flexible employment arenas when it comes to branching out.Many finance industry high-flyers began their professional lives as trained accountants only to find themselves on different and more exciting trajectories a few years later.
With the average salary for accountants at around $50,591, the pay range can be augmented by bonuses, profit sharing and, in some cases, commissions.
No story about the finance industry and careers would be complete without a look at the role of those in the brokering industry, and this includes mortgage brokers, insurance brokers, and of course, stockbrokers.
While movies about Wall Street have made the industry look very glamorous, the truth is that the average pay for a stockbroker in New Zealand is under $60,000.
However, with a few years’ experience that figure can increase substantially with bonuses, profit sharing and commission.Mortgage brokers in full-time employment can earn as much as $84,000 per year, and those who are self-employed may make considerably more – depending on the state of the local property market – as many in New Zealand are discovering right now, with activity levelling out after a crazy few years.
The key to finding success in the finance sector lies in doing research. Never have so many online tools been on offer, allowing you to look at different options and possible career paths.
The position you first aim for may be superseded by other possibilities along the line, and as long as you can remain flexible in your interests and expectations, success in the industry is a real possibility.