For some, the thought of dealing with numbers all day long is frightening. For others, it sounds boring. But for some of us, it is quite interesting. The first thing you need to know about a career in finance is … you DO NOT spend your entire day dealing with numbers. Yes, I know I am yelling there, but it is important to know your expertise in finance is simply a skillset to make you a more effective employee, manager, or owner.
"A career in finance obviously involves numbers, but numbers are not the story, only the prologue."
The First Part of the Equation
A close friend’s son graduated with a finance/accounting degree two years ago. He joined a multinational company in their accounting area. Although he did spend the first six months working with numbers, he now spends the majority of his time solving problems, including human resource problems. His financial training helps him view solutions from a different perspective than others may view those solutions, and it provides him with the analytical skill to successfully implement those solutions.
Numbers Lead to Problems …
A typical day for him begins with a review of the numbers, including manufacturing output, expenses, accounts payable, etc. That review sets his agenda for the balance of the day. Last week, he found the production results were lagging and set out to find out why. Well, he found a maintenance problem on the production line had slowed production. He reviewed the maintenance records, talked with employees on the line, and restructured the maintenance schedule so it no longer impacts production. Did his day start with numbers? Sure, but his financial skillset provided him the tools to identify a problem. His investigation went beyond numbers.
Another example from that day is a problem he noticed with an employee’s expense account. He reviewed the expense account and noted an unusual entry — gas for a car in addition to office supplies. He discussed this with the employee’s manager, and then they both met with the employee. It turns out the employee would fill up his car with gas every time he drove to the local office supply store for printer toner. It is important to note that office supply store was four miles down the road. Did his day start with numbers? Sure, but his interpersonal skills were needed to positively address a problem that could have been mishandled.
… Problems Lead to Solutions
Do you need to know the numbers? Yes, you do. Knowing the numbers is just the start that helps identify problems and their solutions. A career in finance obviously involves numbers, but numbers are not the story, only the prologue. As with musical and literary works, there is so much more to the story than the prologue. Read the rest of the story, and you may find it much more interesting than the cover might suggest.
Read Part II of "What You Really Need to Know About a Career in Finance."
Johnson & Wales University offers an online Master of Science in Finance degree and a Master of Business Administration in Finance. For more information, complete the "Request Info" form on this page or call 855-JWU-1881.