If you’re considering a career in finance consumer services, you might think it’s necessary to get a top-level qualification such as a degree. However, it’s possible to get started in this field without formal qualifications, if you’re prepared to work hard to prove yourself.
So, is finance consumer services a good career path? And what are the self-taught skills you’ll need? Let’s take a closer look.
What is finance consumer services?
Finance consumer services typically involve providing customers with advice on things like savings, loans, and insurance, and selling them related products. Someone working in this field might be a financial planner, an accountant, a mortgage broker, or an investment specialist.
The job is all about helping individuals or small businesses to look after their money and plan for the future. You might suggest investment strategies, assess financial risks, assist a client with preparing for a tax return or an audit, or carry out corporate bookkeeping or household asset management.
While some financial institutions will only employ people with qualifications and experience, there are entry-level roles and apprenticeships available for those who can demonstrate an aptitude and passion for finance. You could choose to become a self-employed advisor or bookkeeper, but you’d need to be able to prove your credentials to customers.
Is finance consumer services a good career path?
The big advantage of forging a career in finance consumer services is that there will never be a shortage of work. Consumers will always need advice on what to do with their money, they’ll always need insurance products, and there will always be demand for mortgages or business loans.
It’s also possible to start from a junior position and learn more skills as you go—perhaps getting a qualification while you’re earning, instead of going into debt before your career even begins. There are plenty of opportunities for career advancement, and after gaining more experience, you can command a higher salary.
Because consumer finance covers a wide range of roles and professions, it’s relatively easy to shift to another area of the industry if you want a change or realise your current role isn’t for you. It’s also a great career choice if you enjoy working with people and helping them make decisions.
6 self-taught skills to consider
Being self-taught shows that you’ve spent time and effort on improving your prospects and that you’re able to take the initiative and think for yourself. Here are some other skills that can help you break into consumer finance:
Soft and hard skills
It goes without saying that if you’re considering a career in finance, you’re already good with numbers! But it still pays to polish up your maths skills. As well as managing your own finances and tax affairs, you can take online tutorials and boost your computer literacy by using financial software.
You should also focus on your soft skills, such as communication, leadership, problem-solving, and time management. For example, in a role where you’ll be working closely with consumers, you need to be a great communicator with the ability to help them understand complex issues.
Writing a great CV
Even without formal qualifications or experience, you can still create a killer CV. If you’re applying for an advertised position, try to relate your skills to the job specification and show how you can meet the employer’s needs. Focus on any transferable skills you may have.
You can mention challenges you’ve faced in your previous career, or your life in general, to demonstrate problem-solving abilities. It’s also worth stating what you hope to gain from the role, such as enhancing your skills or obtaining a qualification. Click here for more CV tips.
Preparing for interviews
Performing well at interviews is a skill in itself, and like any skill, it can be learned and improved. Practice in front of a mirror to make sure your body language gives the right vibe, and rehearse your responses to likely questions.
Do some research on the company and the services it offers, so that you can point out what you’d bring to the table. Don’t forget, you can ask the interviewer questions, too! It’s also polite to send a thank-you email afterward.
It’s important that you’re knowledgeable about the world of finance—you won’t get very far if you don’t know what you’re talking about or can’t answer your customers’ questions. If you’re interested in the subject, you’ll already be reading books, magazines, and web articles.
Continue to familiarise yourself with relevant financial terminology and keep up with the latest developments, such as HMRC’s Making Tax Digital (MTD) initiative. You could even use an online trading simulator to construct a mock portfolio, helping you to stay aware of the markets.
If you have ideas and opinions on financial matters, why not share them by starting your own financial blog? This will certainly show potential employers that you’re passionate about the subject, as well as highlighting your writing skills, knowledge, and technical abilities.
You could also set yourself up as a financial influencer on social media platforms such as Facebook, YouTube, and TikTok, giving top tips and sharing news. If you generate enough followers and interest, you may even get financial companies wanting to advertise around your content.
Setting up a side hustle
Another way to demonstrate your financial knowledge and skills is to practise them in the real world. You could start by giving financial advice to friends and family, or doing their taxes. They’ll recommend you to others and you’ll start to become known in your local area. Even if you don’t make much money this way, it’ll look great on your CV.
If you’re going down this road, you’ll need a rounded understanding of all things financial, not just consumer finance. And you’ll definitely need to be familiar with finance software (learn more by clicking here).
Using your contacts
Networking is also important. If you have any contacts who might be helpful, reach out to them. Moreover, expand your network by connecting with people in the industry on LinkedIn. A recommendation from someone trustworthy goes a long way with potential employers.
You can send out your CV to companies you’d like to work for, or even apply for a non-finance role in a company with the aim of moving into a financial position once you’ve demonstrated some relevant skills. Linking up with a mentor—anyone in a position of influence—is also a great idea.
A career in finance consumer services can be rewarding, stimulating, and potentially well-paid once you’ve developed some experience. You might need to acquire a qualification in order to progress, but self-taught skills can get you a foot in the door.
As long as you have a real desire to succeed in the industry, you will find ways to prove yourself.