Planning your financial modelling career – which is the best route?
There are many routes into a financial modelling career, and they are evolving and changing every day. With each option having unique benefits and career trajectories, it can be difficult to figure out which path might be the best for you, and in this blog we’ll discuss the three most common routes in detail, and set out what you can expect from them.
A great way into financial modelling for graduates. Improve your Excel skills while also building a comprehensive modelling skill set.
- Good for building Excel skills, as well as experiencing other software.
- Build a unique toolbox of skills.
- Develop your critical thinking abilities.
- Work in a variety of industries.
Things to consider:
- It requires determination and the willingness to work long hours.
These days, specialist financial modelling teams within large consultancies are growing rapidly. They are hiring at all levels, with huge graduate intakes, and will take on new staff with minimal work experience.
Working in a financial modelling team will see you learn a huge amount of Excel skills, as well as get exposure to other software packages. The workload will include a high proportion of model-review work, which is invaluable when it comes to developing your critical thinking skills as well as giving insight on how other modellers think and work.
You’ll also build a comprehensive modelling toolbox, as with every review that you do, you’ll learn a new Excel trick, complex financial concept, or a new way of examining a problem.
You will see a variety of different industries and will gain a unique combination of skills, although it will require hard work and a lot of hours.
Dedicating yourself to this route can take you through the hierarchy to the Director and Partner level, where your main responsibility will be overseeing large teams of modellers.
Working in industry you’ll build an intimate knowledge of a particular company and sector while developing your skills at your own pace.
- Exciting path into finance.
- Focus on one specific industry/organisation.
- Learn at your own pace.
- Trial and error approach can leave you more knowledgeable.
Things to consider:
- Requires use of own time to work on more technical aspects of the job.
Going into industry can be really exciting.
If there is a specific sector or company you’re aiming to work in, this route may be for you, as it’ll allow you to gain intimate knowledge of them, while also honing your modelling skills.
Although some of the technical know-how will need to be self-taught, this in itself is a good thing, as you will further your knowledge through research and trial and error.
Modelling within industry can lead you to FP&A (Financial Planning and Analysis), which is regarded as the most exciting area of finance, and from there you can work your way up to the CFO level.
A more traditional entry into a financial modelling career, its structured and broad-ranging approach will give you the skills needed to take your career in any direction.
- Structured approach.
- Training on the job.
- Exams leading to chartership.
- Give you the base skills to move anywhere in finance.
Things to consider:
- Not strictly a modelling role.
Although a more generalist finance route, this route shouldn’t be discounted. Through working in an accounting practice, you will gain structured training on the job while taking exams that will result in chartership.
While not specifically a modelling role, the technical accounting and financial concepts you will learn will be an asset no matter where you move in finance, and there are still plenty of opportunities to hone your excel skills through working with lots of unstructured data from clients and manipulating reports from various software packages to extract the necessary insights.
On top of that, many clients do still go to their accountants when they need budgets and forecasts, so there can be a healthy dose of modelling involved, although people do tend to move on from practice if they want to specialise in modelling.
Which One is Best?
Overall, each route to a financial modelling career has its merits, and any of them can produce strong modellers. Ultimately, they are all complimentary, and if you can gain exposure (concrete and serious exposure, not short secondments) to each path, you will find yourself amongst the top 10% of modellers.
However, here at PPS we understand that not everybody has the opportunity, nor desire to move around so much. Our comprehensive training courses distil all the above into easily digestible modules, so that we can help you get that well-rounded expertise, no matter where you work.