Unlocking Commercial Finance Opportunities in Financial Services for Newly qualified accountants

Florin Hodinitu our consultant managing the role
Achieving your ACA qualifications is a remarkable milestone that opens the door to a plethora of career opportunities. As a newly qualified accountant, you may be contemplating your next steps, particularly if you're eyeing a commercial finance role within the financial services sector. This transition, while promising, requires strategic planning and an understanding of the unique dynamics within the industry.

Understanding Commercial Finance Roles

Commercial finance within financial services encompasses a range of positions that focus on the financial management and strategic planning of organisations. These roles are distinct from traditional accounting positions, as they require a blend of financial acumen, business insight, and strategic thinking. 

Key responsibilities often include:

  • Financial analysis and forecasting
  • Budgeting and financial planning
  • Business partnering with other departments
  • Identifying and managing financial risks
  • Supporting strategic decision-making processes

Why Financial Services?

Steps to Secure a Commercial Finance Role

Enhance Your Industry Knowledge

Understanding the financial services landscape is crucial. Stay updated with industry trends, regulatory changes, and technological advancements. This knowledge not only makes you more attractive to potential employers but also equips you to excel in a commercial finance role.

  • Read industry publications: Regularly read financial news and industry reports.
  • Attend seminars and webinars: Participate in events that focus on financial services trends and innovations.
  • Network with industry professionals: Join professional networks and attend industry-specific events to connect with experienced practitioners.

Highlight Relevant Skills and Experience

While your ACA qualifications are a strong foundation, employers will be looking for specific skills that align with commercial finance roles. Emphasise these in your CV and interviews:

  • Analytical Skills: Demonstrate your ability to analyse financial data and derive actionable insights.
  • Business Acumen: Show your understanding of business operations and how financial decisions impact overall strategy.
  • Communication Skills: Highlight your ability to communicate complex financial information clearly and concisely to non-financial stakeholders.
  • Problem-Solving Abilities: Provide examples of how you have identified and addressed financial issues effectively.

Gain Practical Experience

Practical experience can set you apart from other candidates. If you haven't already, seek opportunities to gain experience in commercial finance tasks, either through your current role or by undertaking additional projects.

  • Internal Projects: Volunteer for projects within your current organisation that involve financial planning, budgeting, or analysis within a financial services context.
  • Secondments: Explore secondment opportunities that allow you to work in different departments or business units.
  •  Short Courses and Certifications: Consider pursuing additional certifications relevant to commercial finance, such as Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA).

Tailor Your Job Search

Focus your job search on roles that match your skills and career aspirations. Use job boards, recruiter services, and professional networks to find suitable opportunities.

  • Job Boards: Utilise platforms like LinkedIn, eFinancialCareers, and ICAEW Jobs.
  • Recruitment Agencies: Engage with recruitment agencies specialising in financial services to access exclusive job listings and career advice.
  • Company Websites: Regularly check the career sections of financial services firms that interest you.

Prepare for Interviews

Interviews for commercial finance roles in financial services can be rigorous. Prepare thoroughly by researching the company, understanding the role, and practising your responses to common interview questions.

  • Research the Company: Understand the company's business model, financial performance, and strategic priorities.
  • Understand the Role: Be clear on the key responsibilities of the role and how your skills and experience align.
  •  Practice Competency-Based Questions: Prepare for questions that assess your analytical skills, business understanding, and problem-solving abilities.

The Importance of Soft Skills

While technical skills and industry knowledge are essential, soft skills play a crucial role in commercial finance roles. Effective communication, leadership, and teamwork are key to influencing decisions and driving business success.

  • Communication: Develop your ability to articulate complex financial concepts to diverse audiences.
  •  Leadership: Show your potential to lead projects and initiatives within the finance function.
  •  Collaboration: Demonstrate your ability to work effectively with colleagues across different departments.

Conclusion

Transitioning from a role in practice to a commercial finance role in financial services is a journey that requires strategic planning, continuous learning, and proactive networking. By enhancing your industry knowledge, highlighting relevant skills, gaining practical experience, tailoring your job search, and preparing thoroughly for interviews, you can unlock exciting opportunities in this dynamic sector.

Remember, the financial services industry values individuals who are not only technically proficient but also possess the soft skills needed to drive business success. Embrace the challenge, and you will find that the opportunities for career growth and personal development are limitless.

Find your next financial services opportunity with Marks Sattin

Marks Sattin is a specialist financial services recruitment consultancy. We have over 30 years’ experience placing experts within financial services, ranging from fund accountants, treasury assistants, Fund Controllers and governance specialists. If you are looking for your next financial services opportunity, check out our latest roles
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12/06/24
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