This industry involves managing and motivating people to work toward common, productive financial goals. Financial services careers can involve working on the quantitative side of a firm, developing and maintaining a client base for investments, serving as a consultant to help organizations analyze and solve their fiscal problems, guiding a non profit to meeting its financial needs, or helping a customer manage a bank account. Educating yourself about industry terminology, basic organizational structure, and recruiting time lines will help you identify the best job opportunities to pursue, as well as equip you with the resources necessary to be competitive for positions in the field.
The following, from the Vault Guides, which you have access to as a Columbia student or alumni, will give you a basic overview of just some of the different positions in the industry.
Accountants and Auditors: Compile, analyze, verify, and prepare financial records (including tax returns); provide assurance that financial information is correct; provide tax, financial, and business-related advice to individuals, companies, and other organizations (accountants); examine and verify financial records to ensure that they are accurate, complete, and in compliance with federal laws (auditors).
Investment Professionals: Analyze investment markets and funds, make investment decisions for clients, monitor investment performance, file regulatory paperwork.
Economists: Study the production and distribution of goods, resources, and services.
Employers at CCE's Beyond the Bulge Bracket Industry Showcase noted that they look for students with the following skills or interests during recruitment: investment banking and transactional skills, customer and client relations, problem solving skills, ability to engage and be competitive, ability to deliver a pitch effectively to potential clients, analytical skills, familiarity with current research and trends in the market and the ability to respond and interpret market trends. As an intern or entry-level professional in financial services, some typical daily responsibilities include: extensive Excel modeling as well as creating presentation and research materials for managing directors.
For more information on the Industry, log into the Vault Guides and review: The Vault Guide to Investment Banking, Career Launcher: Finance, Career Guide to Sales and Trading, Career Guide to Actuarial Careers, Career Guide to Leveraged Finance, and more.
Many large financial services companies adhere to a traditional recruitment cycle for internship and full-time positions and the chart below details the recruiting time line for these "bulge bracket" employers. However, it is important to remember that many companies recruit outside of this formalized recruiting calendar, particularly small to mid sized firms and companies outside of the financial industry looking for financial personnel. Make sure that your job search includes both the job posting section of LionShare as well as the on-campus recruiting section, in addition to other resources including company web sites, industry job boards, and networking opportunities.
Please note, during the 2015-16 recruiting season, some “bulge bracket” firms will interview in the Fall semester for summer internship positions
Full time offers extended to summer interns
Full time and summer internship positions posted in LionSHARE
Full time and summer internship information sessions and interviews on-campus
Full time and summer internship offers are extended
Summer internship information sessions and interviews continue on campus
Recruiting events for underclassmen
Full time and summer internship programs begin
During the 2015-16 recruiting season, some “bulge bracket” firms will interview in the Fall semester for summer internship positions
Many finance companies conduct on-campus recruitment events and interviews, and informational sessions for interested students. Visit the CCE calendar of events for upcoming employer events, and LionSHARE to search for scheduled on-campus interviews. Look through CCE's tipsheets for help preparing for an Employer Information Session or an upcoming interview.
- LionSHARE: Thousands of finance positions are posted on LionSHARE, for employers such as Credit Suisse, CitiGroup, J.P. Morgan, and many others. Search the Employer Directory tab in LionSHARE to search for companies in the finance industry that have posted in the past. Visit the human resources and career pages of those companies to search for opportunities if they don't have any active posting in LionSHARE at the present time.
- Fall/Spring Career Fairs and Industry Showcases: Sample employers that have attended recent career fairs at Columbia include AllianceBernstein, Royal Bank of Scotland, and American Express. Each year, CCE hosts a Beyond the Bulge Bracket Industry Showcase to help students learn about opportunities outside of the large banks. These smaller firms may offer longer-term employment experiences as well as the opportunity to work on a smaller team.
- Vault and WetFeet Guides: Check out WetFeet’s Careers in Investment Banking, or Vault’s Banking & Finance and Vault Guide to Finance Interviews.
- Tips on Super Day Interviews
- Alumni Profiles:
Student groups at Columbia offer an excellent way to learn about the financial industry. In addition to joining a finance-related group, one can also gain experience by taking on a treasurer position in a cultural group to gain hands-on experience in budget planning and basic accounting. Employers have commented on how valuable it is to join pre-professional student organizations such as the ones listed below in order to learn about the respective industry as well as to be able to network with the appropriate employers and alumni.
- Columbia Financial Investment Group - One of Columbia’s largest undergraduate finance clubs.
- Columbia University Financial Engineering - Seeks to promote a collaborative learning environment for anyone interested in finance, regardless of experience level and field of study.
- Columbia Women's Business Society - Aims to connect undergraduate students to successful women in a variety of business fields, and to inspire them to achieve their own professional goals in the future.
- Columbia Financial Review - A student publication that provides a medium for student discussion of relevant financial issues.
- Association of Graduate Economics Students – Represents interests of students at both the departmental and graduate school level and organizes various social activities for its members.
- Columbia Economics Society - Organizes events to connect students with professionals from banking, finance, and consulting related fields.
- Columbia Investment Banking Division - Provides a setting for Columbia University students to learn about the technical concepts of investment banking.
- Multicultural Business Association – Engages in a campus-wide discussion on how future business leaders should be gearing up to compete and operate in a multicultural and global economy.
- Columbia Smart Woman Securities – Aims to empower undergraduate women of all academic backgrounds and all career interests with investment knowledge.
- American Finance Association
- American Association of Finance & Accounting
- New York Society of Security Analysts
- Association for Financial Professionals
- Financial Management Association International
- 85 Broads
The CFA Program
- The Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) Program is a professional credential administered by the American-based CFA Institute to investment and financial professionals. In order to obtain it, a candidate must pass three, six-hour exams, have earned a university degree (or equivalent) and must have four years of qualified, professional work experience. You may register for the Level I exam if you are in your final year of your bachelor’s degree program, or have four years of professional work experience, but you must have earned your degree before registering for the Level II exam. See the CFA website for more details.
- Wall Street Oasis
- Glass Door
- Seeking Alpha
- Mergers and Inquisitions
- The Wall Street Journal
First years and sophomores are often very successful in the internship search when targeting small to mid sized organizations as well as corporate finance positions, as many internships in large banks are only open to juniors. There are, however, select, short term recruitment programs for first years and sophomores to gain exposure to these businesses. A short list of these follow, but also be sure to check LionSHARE as well as club emails/newsletters to stay up to date.
- First Year Spring Program, Undergraduate Camps, Women's Leadership Camp, Pride Summit, Veterans Career Camp, STEM Symposium
- Sophomore Leaders Conference & Summer Program
- Sophomore Symposium
- PEAK Leadership Conference
Last updated June 2015