So, you have finally entered the top one per cent, who made it?
After all, consider the millions who come and drop out every year.
Also, please do not take yourself on a guilt trip, that you no longer have the first love for accounting anymore.
In fact, if you realise this today, then it’s even better because not everything we do has to really be directly proportional to the career that we are in.
So, here is how I will discuss this.
- My Story
- The framework for course selection
- Investment Banking
- Financial Planning & Analysis
- Data Science
- Product Management
The reason why I am sharing my story is to make you see the bigger picture. After all, when we are young we tend to see a very short version of our career map.
So this is how it goes.
I was not a commerce student, in fact, I passed my class XII in science, which by the way was selected just because I qualified the grade requirements.
Then the bug of investments bit me, while I was in eleventh grade, and I felt pursuing engineering didn’t make any sense at all.
So, I enrolled on a commerce graduation program and got thoroughly disappointed.
Mostly because the commerce program, didn’t have anything about investments.
So then I started looking around, stumbling upon courses like CA, CS, ICWAI etc. Which, again didn’t make sense because it was all focused on accounting, law or costing.
Afterwards, I came across my senior reading a book which had something like CFA written on it. However even after doing CFA and working in investments for a long time, I ended up in product management.
So, nothing that I learned directly in the CFA program had anything to do with product management or now entrepreneurship but it helped indirectly in understanding products as assets.
Hence, instead of looking at products and thinking about marketing in a conventional way, I looked at them as investments. For eg; I used the diversification concept of portfolio management, in selecting the new domains of product or deciding the new product based on the risk appetite of the organisation to invest.
However, it would be an exaggeration that I didn’t have to work on other skills, which were not perceptive but unique to the profession. Take for example; making product maps, which was an alien concept.
Moreover, you will need to obviously keep on exploring specific education continuously and they won’t always be available in the form of a qualification.
The framework for course selection
Super important! I can’t stress more, after all a blind swing in the dark is ultimately just a swing.
So, how can we know what exactly to do? The first approach is called the interest ability matrix.
This is a very old concept of career planning, where we list out our interests professional. Afterwards marking our ability and rated ourselves.
For example for me:
- High Will and High skill would; business planning, ideation, mentoring, or rating, excel.
- On the other hand high will but a low skill for me; python programming and machine learning.
However frequently many of you will face a single most important question, which is “High Skill for what?”.
Now, to answer that you also need to mark the industry where you feel confident.
- Industry Selection
This usually takes time to figure but it should be very clear before your 30th Birthday. After all, the more time you are not married to the industry, the bigger frustrations can come later.
For eg; It became eventually clear to me, that I liked the education field and not so many investments or fund management. Pay close attention to what I said, ” I didn’t like investment management”, but I like investing for myself and teaching that too. So that requires you to be brutally honest with yourselves, it can’t happen when we have a fascination with working in the industry.
In other words, don’t look for things which are cool today, anyways it won’t last in another 5 years let alone you get bored anyways.
Investment banking again is a very large wide field but we can look at specifics
- Equity Research/M&A: Financial Modeling
- Alternative Investments: Python, SQL
- Wealth Management: CFP or CFA for the long term
Financial Planning & Analysis
If you wish to stay on the corporate finance side of finance like financial planning or strategy then:
- Financial Modeling
CMA is a management accounting qualification, designed specifically for FP&A Roles.
The fintech industry would be a place where you could apply data science in case you have a high will and low skill situation.
Specifically, you should learn Python basic syntax, Data visualisation tools like Power BI, Matplot, and machine learning in depth.
Also, combine this with a lot of projects that you do yourself to talk about in the interview.
This would be a u-turn career trajectory in case you opt for it. This field requires you to know a lot of everything, so you need to do the following micro courses
- Marketing essentials
- Story Telling
- Product Road Maps
Also combine this with a lot of books reading like the Art of creative thinking, how to brainstorm and also take some copywriting projects.
You must have been perplexed that I did not suggest any accounting courses. Since you don’t require any and anything you do is simply just adding more baggage. You can work for big fours even with CA, and no one really forces or requires you to do IFRS/CPA or ACCA.