For those pursuing a finance career, or professionals looking to advance in their role, it’s more important than ever to be one step ahead of the changes that are happening in the industry.
These evolutions in the industry all pose different challenges and require an advanced skill set to help you tackle them.
Here are three factors that are shaping future careers in finance.
1. Careers in finance are continually evolving with the fintech boom
From advanced technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) permeating traditional finance roles to new career opportunities emerging in fintech startups, it’s clear that technology will continue to be a key player in future careers in finance.
Having started his career in Wall Street as a banker and investment analyst, Michael Pagano, Ph.D. knows first-hand the impact technology has had on the industry.
He is now focused on preparing students with the technical and analytics skills to face this new reality as faculty director of the Master of Science in Finance program (MSF) at the Villanova School of Business.
“Finance is a very fierce commodity-type of business, so companies and employees need to understand how to differentiate themselves. One way to do that is through efficiency and keeping a good profit margin, which can be achieved through investments in technology,” he says.
In the Master in Finance program at Villanova, students can study elective courses such as Analyzing and Leveraging Data and Programming in R, which familiarize students with how to leverage technologies to read and utilize data.
“Finance companies are using these tools day-to-day, so you need to know how to operate them for a successful career in finance,” says Michael.
The MSF curriculum aims to educate students holistically.
Michael explains that this means students will gain quantitative skills while also developing an understanding of why changes are happening and the underlying economic trends that are forcing the industry to evolve.
Cutting-edge technologies are increasingly being used in traditional finance roles. McKinsey & Company, for instance, estimates that AI can generate up to $1 trillion additional value for the global banking industry annually.
In 2023 the global fintech market is estimated to be worth $165 billion, creating a growing number of career paths for grads who want to be at the forefront of this technological boom.
2. Sustainability is shaping investment strategies
Sustainability is no longer just a buzzword in business. It has become intrinsic to how companies operate.
Investing responsibly is a vital way of working towards Net Zero carbon emissions by 2050. So, investors are increasingly valuing companies by their environmental impact, as well as their profits.
In finance careers such as portfolio management and securities analysis, you’ll need to analyze a company’s Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) considerations and ability to mitigate ESG-related risks.
Students in the Villanova MSF program take part in a student-managed fund course. Here, students manage real money and decide which stocks to put into the portfolio and which ones to sell, while using an ESG-focused investment mandate.
“It’s really up to the students to call the shots,” says Michael.
In 2022, investment in the low carbon energy transition reached $1.1 trillion—the first time sustainable investing has matched fossil fuel investment.
There are a growing number of roles emerging dedicated to sustainable finance. Big names in the industry such as Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan have pledged their commitment to sustainable investing and offer internships and full-time roles for graduates.
3. Remote working has impacted careers in finance
Since the Covid pandemic, remote or hybrid working has become the norm for many companies. While this may have been initially been a shock to many who were used to the office environment, now 73% of workers want flexible work options.
Remote working has the potential to reap many benefits including reducing costs, improving productivity, and increasing the representation of women in leadership positions.
However, it also means that future grads will need to hone their interpersonal skills.
“As a lot of the business world has moved online, we have lost many of the nuances of how we communicate such as body language and tone, so emotional intelligence and communication skills are more important than ever,” says Michael.
Networking trips to financial firms such as Deloitte, Deutsche Bank, and BMO Capital Markets during the Master in Finance program will allow students to connect with professionals and see how the industry is evolving first-hand.
At Villanova, the Gmelich Lab for Financial Markets also gives MSF students access to financial databases such as FactSet and TraderEx. Students will also earn a Bloomberg Certification as part of the program.
Through this, students can become familiar with financial business practice and understand how to operate whether remotely or in-person when starting their new role.
To prepare for the vast range of careers in finance available to them when they graduate, students in the Villanova Master of Science in Finance will take part in the Professional Development Program. This includes meeting with alumni currently working in the finance industry, resume development, a LinkedIn workshop, and technical interview training.
There’s no doubt that the finance industry will continue to rapidly evolve, so understanding the factors in the driving seat of these advancements—and gaining the skill set to tackle them—is crucial for a successful finance career.