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May 18 2011

Times Ascent- Career prospects in the financial sector


Sumit Sharma, VP, Sapient Global Markets discusses lucrative career prospects in the financial sector with special emphasis on financial markets.

1. What are some of the lucrative career options in the financial sector, especially in global markets?

The financial sector is an exciting industry to be a part of, particularly in today's changing times. India is yet to experience a sophistication of financial and commodity trading instruments, a trend that has already set off across western markets. In the future, such a development will open the sector to new career opportunities. A career in global markets involves playing with such complex and innovative technologies as grid computing, algorithmic trading or high speed-low latency transaction management. Lucrative long-term career goals may include working as head of IT for an investment bank, CIO of a commodities company or technological experts at a large algorithmic trading company.

2. What are the recent trends, post recession, in this sector? Have the talent management strategies changed?

The sector has significantly transformed in the face of the recession. With growing trading volumes, a need for extracting the most value out of assets has arisen. During the recession, as the prices of commodities have become more volatile, the complexity of valuation model, P&L calculations and exposure calculations has gone up. As increasingly more banks and financial institutions have dipped into troubled waters, the need for risk management and valuation of troubled or illiquid assets has grown too.Due to these developments, employers have in their recruitment strategies put an emphasis on a deeper understanding of the business as a whole. Companies are looking for candidates with acumen for business thinking and problem solving.

3. What are the qualifications and other skill set employers look for when hiring for jobs in this sector?

In addition to the regular technical skill sets that are a requirement across the sector, including knowledge of Java and .NET, employers look for individuals with a finance or energy background, an experience with investment banks and niche trading packages that are available. Those considering a career in the financial sector (and global markets specifically) should have a willingness to learn as well as talent for problem solving.

4. What are the various challenges of being involved in a career in the global markets?

One of the challenges is the scope of business in this sector, which is very wide and extends from basic financial instruments to the trading of metals, energy or even agricultural food products. Each area of the business is detailed and very mature, which provides a vast space for learning but can also be challenging. To overcome this, professionals can pick an area they are particularly interested in and develop a specialization. In addition to this, technology is a fast-changing instrument of business. It's the combined power of technology and business that keeps an individual on a high growth path in global markets.

5. How can employees be trained in both technical and business aspects of the global markets?

There are a number of technical training institutes in the country that help train on technologies relevant to global markets. But industry/business training can be attained from institutes such as the Institute of Petroleum or the GARP (Global Association of Risk Professionals). Certifications and designations that can be attained include FRM (Financial Risk Manager), CFA (Chartered Financial Analyst) or ERP (Energy Risk Professional). In addition to this, companies provide their own customized training programs too.

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