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Finance Careers in India | Salaries, Career Path, Qualifications

Careers in Finance | India

Salaries, Career Path, Qualifications for Finance Jobs

Ok, you can finally say it, that iconic line from the Hollywood hit film, Jerry Maguire. And although Cuba Gooding Jr’s character is a football player, not an aspiring investment banker in the film, the line resonates (oh-so-loud and clear!) with everyone aiming for a career in finance, especially, high finance.

So, yeah, go ahead and shout it out loud, “Show me the money!” Yep, get it out of your system. Phew!

Now that you’ve finally spat it out, sober up, and read on… While many believe that all you need to dream of a career in finance is a head for money, the ability to crunch numbers really quickly, and a college degree, the truth is, it’s way more complicated than that.

Behind the gloss and sheen of those Wall Street hot shots is an unquenchable fire in their belly tempered with patience; loads of experience in the trenches; guts, grit and an appetite for risk; the right skill set; appropriate educational qualifications; and a hunger to keep learning.

And how could we forget? Unlike most other careers, if you have an irresistible urge to walk the financial high wire, then, hell yeah, you qualify!

Why Financial Services?

A career in finance is exciting and rewarding, and, usually, very lucrative. It attracts young people who are hugely ambitious but who also have a head for economics, accounting and the ability to quickly and intuitively grasp and process complex financial concepts and data.

Finance is all about managing money. This definition can be further broken down into two categories – financial management and financial services.

Financial management is about how to most efficiently use organisational funds, whether in a business set-up, non-profit agency or government entity. Here, financial managers devise and implement strategies to increase profitability within an organisation.

The financial services industry, on the other hand, is all about moving funds between savers and borrowers, managing investment accounts, raising capital for businesses and governments, offering investment advice and mitigating the risks of financial loss.

Professionals in this sector deal with the debt market, capital market, futures and commodities, hedge funds, mergers & acquisitions, or work in less stressful areas such as the banking and insurance sectors and corporate finance.

Educational Qualifications For Careers In Finance


College Degree

Most career tracks, especially at the entry-level, require nothing more than a college degree. A liberal arts degree is a good place to start but specialisations in subjects such as economics, finance, business and accounting are a huge plus.

But here’s a tough question:
Does one need a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree in Business Administration?

Not necessarily. So why the fuss over those three little letters?

MBA Degree

Many consider an MBA degree to be a ‘peudo-requirement’, a mere screening tool to help employers shortlist candidates from a large pool of applicants.

So even though a college degree with a relevant major plus on-the-job training can suffice, an MBA degree gives you an edge in recruitment as well as in promotions and remuneration.

Law Degree

The financial services industry is heavily regulated – whether personal finance, corporate finance, wealth management or insurance – so having a law degree is an advantage.

For instance, a financial planner would have to deal with laws relating to estates, trusts, real estate and inheritance whereas asset managers looking after the affairs of the super-wealthy may need to offer tax advice on a complex pool of assets.

Computer Literacy

Finance professionals need to frequently process and analyse data, especially at junior levels, such as financial analysts and even associates, who do all the grunge work.

This is most efficiently done by computer software, which helps create databases, with computation and modelling, and preparing charts, graphs and tables.


Think of a career in finance as continuing education. If you’re in it for the long haul and want to improve your credibility, then you need to periodically take exams, secure licences and certify yourself.

The type of certification you need depends on what kind of professional you are. For instance, traders, who buy and sell securities and deal in financial products, need to acquire a licence from the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA).

Financial advisors, on the other hand, need CFP (Certified Financial Planner) certification, especially at senior positions.

Financial analysts take the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) exam as it certifies them as being proficient in securities and investment vehicles. It also indicates that they are proficient in quantitative methodologies to analyse securities.

Another sought-after certification is the Certified Public Accountant (CPA), a must if you’re planning a career in accounting and auditing. Get the idea?

Career Tracks & Salaries In Finance

Most finance specialists are in it for the thrill of the chase but, let’s face it, the money’s good too, very good. But before you scan this page for numbers, let’s understand some concepts first.

The remuneration of a finance specialist almost always involves a bonus or a commission component, which is added to your salary or ‘base pay’. Bonuses are a larger part of one’s paycheck at investment banks, asset management firms and brokerages than they are in banking and insurance.

Also, as you move up the ladder, a greater percentage of your wages will come in the form of bonuses, which are driven by a combination of your department’s profits and those of the company. Unlike bonuses, commissions are formulaic.

Employees like financial advisors who receive commissions tend to work in sales positions. Revenues generated by their clients as well as other key metrics such as the value of their clients’ accounts drive your commission.

Now, if you’re looking for actual numbers, here they are. At the bottom of the heap, a Financial Analyst draws a salary of around $80,000 a year, more than the Branch Manager of a retail bank, who earns $62,000 at the entry level, going up to $154,000 at the senior level.

But there is some consolation in this relatively ‘safe’ job. A Branch Manager earns more than an Insurance Manager, whose annual remuneration including bonuses is around $103,800.

If you’re in it as a Trader, expect to earn $70,000 at the entry level, going up to $200,000 as an Associate Trader. Jobs in derivatives are even more lucrative.

But here’s where the stakes are really high – investment banking. Junior staff such as sales, trading, research and M&A staff, draw as much as $195,000 a year, while Associates reel in around $270,000.

At senior levels, such as Vice-President, salaries go up to $460,000, while Directors or Executive Directors snap up a cool $700,000 a year.

Outlook Of Financial Services Sector

The financial services sector in India is robust and, even more importantly, growing. The country has a burgeoning middle class, which, according to research by Deloitte, is projected to grow to 20 per cent of the total population by 2016, and 37 per cent by 2026.

Even better – India has a very young population, with a projected median age of 31 in 2025 and 38 in 2050.

Translated, this suggests a population that has more money, and a large portion of it owned by young people, who love to spend and want to grow their money by investing it.

More great news for wealth managers and investment bankers – according to Deloitte, the number of high net-worth individuals ($1 million) will increase 58 per cent from 2015 to 2020.

As for the banking and insurance sectors, well, they too can raise a toast. It is estimated that only 35 per cent of households in India have bank accounts and 10 per cent life insurance policies.

This suggests considerable growth potential. Also, with credit card usage on the rise, mobile banking fast catching on and remittances from NRIs steadily flowing in, the banking industry has plenty to shout about.

Roles in Finance

Read more about specific roles and occupations in Finance.

Back to the List of Careers.

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