Pros & Cons of a Career in Financial Services

The financial services industry has been in growth mode for several decades. The trend toward globalization of markets has been behind much of this growth, with investors in virtually all countries having more banking resources and investment options than ever before. The financial crisis that emerged in 2008 put a temporary dent in the growth of the financial services industry, but the demand for financial professionals will rebound as the economic cycle bottoms out and begins to turn back up.

Potential High Income

The financial services industry offers a number of positions with potential six-figure income. Many financial services jobs are salary plus commission, so go-getters often can earn significantly more than the median wages. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, sales agents and brokers in the financial services industry earned a median salary of ​$64,770​ in 2020. The BLS reports that financial managers took in a comfortable median salary of ​$153,460​ in 2020.

Regular Business Hours, Good Working Conditions

While a few floor brokers and financial agents actually work in the trading pits of some exchanges, the vast majority of financial services industry employees work at desks in climate-controlled offices in cities all across the country. Most financial services workers also enjoy the luxury of working regular business hours – U.S. stock and bond markets are open from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. central time – and get the full complement of paid holidays.

High Stress

Most financial services industry positions are fast-paced and high-stress. Financial analysts and traders are assessed according to their performance, and a string of bad calls can impact your income or even cost you your job. Sales agents and brokers often earn a significant percentage of their income from sales – getting clients to open accounts, make trades or buy investment products. Many companies have sales quotas for employees, and employees can feel a lot of stress related to making their quota or keeping their job, writes website for twenty-somethings, Gen Twenty.

Cyclical Industry

Another negative aspect about working in the financial services industry is iffy job security. Financial services is a cyclical industry. Banks and brokerages tend to go on hiring sprees when the economy is booming and markets are rising, and then end up laying off a significant percentage of their employees during economic down cycles. Although senior financial analysts and productive sales agents are rarely involved in mass layoffs, very few jobs in the financial services industry are really secure in a severe economic contraction.