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Accrue experience to land finance position

Published on Friday, 30 Nov 2012
Mark Enticott
Managing director of Ambition Hong Kong

How can I get into the corporate finance field? I graduated from university last year with a degree in politics and economics and worked as a management trainee in a public organisation for a year. As I begin to find myself interested in the financial industry, I’m wondering what the quickest way is to change careers. Would taking the CFA examination or studying a master’s in finance help? Should I quit my current job ASAP and look for a more relevant job? What jobs can I apply for that don’t require experience? LY

When making a career change, it’s important to conduct extensive research to ensure the change is right for you. A career in corporate finance obviously requires excellent numeracy skills, but you’ll also need to be very confident, have strong communication skills, be able to deal with pressure and above all, be happy to work long hours.

After doing your research, if you’re still committed to a career in corporate finance, then you need to start notching up some experience in the finance sector. There are several ways to do this.

For instance, the Big 4 accounting firms provide excellent training and development to give you the exposure and experience you’ll need. You may not start in corporate finance straight away, but other parts of the firm, such as audit, can give you equally good experience.

You’ll also be able to study for your accountancy qualifications while working in a professional-services firm and this will provide you with the core foundation to start building your  experience in corporate finance.

After you become qualified, I’d recommend you continue your studies and complete a CFA qualification. Working hard and becoming qualified will help you transition into transaction services or corporate finance within the firm.

Another option is to study an undergraduate or master’s degree in finance and apply to join a multinational firm with a strong corporate finance department, or a leading bank as part of their graduate or managementtrainee scheme.

Mark Enticott is the managing director of Ambition Hong Kong, a leading global boutique recruitment firm with offices in Hong Kong, Singapore, Australia and London. Ambition specialises in the banking and financial services, finance and accounting, technology, and sales and marketing sectors.

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