1. You have stellar communication skills
Financial discussions can get complicated. Whether you’re explaining to a client exactly what’s happening with their money or you’re brokering a complex financial deal, you need to have solid communication skills to keep the process moving smoothly.
“As a finance professional, you won’t always be communicating with other finance people that know all the jargon and complex terms,” says Edgar Collado, CFO at Tobias Financial Advisors. Strong communicators know how to adjust their language to get their points across as concisely as possible. “Most of the time you will be talking to colleagues in other areas and departments,” Collado says. “People will seek you out if you make things easy to understand, rather than trying to impress them with your financial acumen.”
2. You take initiative
You don’t need directives to make yourself useful. Whether you are at work or engaging in a project for fun, you like to look at goals and start working on a way to make those goals happen. Even if you aren’t sure how to do something, you know that getting started is usually more effective than kicking around doing nothing.
“I get really bothered when someone says they’re bored and have nothing to do,” Collado says. “It’s about independence. If you are bored, go out and find something awesome to work on without someone having to tell you what to do.” Collado says good employers value initiative and look for employees who think for themselves and take ownership of their work.
“I have always wanted to take ownership of my work, to show my bosses that I can be independent and operate with little supervision,” Collado says. “This has led to many opportunities to lead projects or teams.”
3. You’re inquisitive
You aren’t just curious about finance. You’re curious about lots of things. Some people walk through their day with their head down, just trying to do their part and go home. But that’s not you—you want to see what’s going on. That is a highly valued trait in the finance industry.
“Inquisitive people tend to do well in finance,” says Stephen Hart, CEO of Cardswitcher. “Instead of accepting everything as rote, I advise you to question everything. Why are things done this way? Could I improve this process? Why does this group of people get a bad deal, and this other group get a good deal?” Hart says this mindset led him to ask the most important question of his life, eventually leading to the foundation of his company to fit the need he saw in merchant services.
“I have no doubt that there are thousands of other questions to be answered out there for budding financial entrepreneurs to answer.” Hart says challenger banks once asked why banks generally have such poor digital systems. “And just like that, you’ve got Monzo, Atom, Revolut and so on.”
4. You work hard
When you have your eyes on a goal, you’re willing to work for it. If that means going the extra mile or thinking outside the box, then you’ll do it. You are tenacious when it comes to completing your mission. That trait is pretty valuable in any industry, but in finance, it’s a must.
“The one personality trait that has helped me the most is my great work ethic,” says JC Matthews, co-founder of Simply Insurance. “In the finance industry, smarts will only get you halfway; you also need to be a hard worker.” Matthews did not feel like a strong sales person and wasn’t gifted in small talk. “But I always worked the longest hours, and I would consistently outperform the best sales person on our team.
5. You have high emotional intelligence (EQ)
You don’t have a hard time relating to people. Whether it’s your best friend or someone you’ve never met before, you like to understand where people are coming from, and you are pretty good at reading between the lines of what someone is saying.
“A skill that is rare, but very useful in finance, is high emotional intelligence,” says Jacob Dayan, CEO of Community Tax. “Most of us finance people are analytical thinkers, and sometimes we aren’t the best people to talk with when it comes to something as personal as finances.” Dayan says the finance professionals who have high EQ make clients feel that they care.
“Those people tend to do great,” Dayan says. “You can learn a lot from being able to comprehend why someone has the opinion they do instead of just assuming.”
6. You love to learn
You get bored with repetitive tasks that stay the same, week after week. The best jobs you’ve had were marked by their interesting developments, new things to learn and new people to meet. You’re just plain energized when you learn something new, and you’re pretty good at catching on fast. That’s a critical finance trait.
Lowry says new innovations and technological developments like AI, blockchain and “fintech” (financial technology) are altering the whole finance landscape. “They are forcing every role in finance to rethink how the role should be performed.” No matter how long you work in the industry, changes like these will come along and necessitate a mindset of continued learning.