If you’ve been looking for IT jobs in the finance industry, you might have come across finance professionals who have acronyms next to their names. John Smith CPA, Jane Doe CFA, Fred Bloggs CFP, etc. These acronyms indicate the different financial certifications they have completed. Certified Public Accountant, Chartered Financial Analyst, and Certified Financial Planner, in the above three examples.
These certifications exist because the finance industry is highly regulated. Offering financial advice without the proper licenses is either illegal or strongly restricted in most countries. But the regulations extend far beyond the professionals who are crunching the numbers. IT in finance is highly regulated too.
For example, the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act (GLBA) of 1999 is a US federal law that requires financial institutions to explain how they share and protect their customers’ private information. If they don’t do so adequately, they can be fined up to $100,000 for each violation. This means all financial institutions need to have the right technological safeguards in place.
However, these heavy regulations can become your competitive advantage as an IT professional. You can quickly become an incredibly valuable employee or stand out in a pool of resumes if you have the right certifications to help companies within the financial sector, or adjacent to, comply with the regulations.
5 IT Certifications to Help You Stand Out
Cybersecurity. Consulting firm Accenture wrote that the finance industry incurred the highest cost from cybercrime in 2018 at an average annual cost of $18.37 million. Where there’s money there are hackers, and arguably no industry has a bigger target on their back than the finance industry. That’s why all financial institutions are under near-constant attack from hackers trying to break into their digital infrastructures.
Any acclaimed cybersecurity certification makes a strong argument in favor of hiring you. This doesn’t mean you’ll suddenly become responsible for all the cybersecurity of the company you join. The responsibility of protecting a financial institution’s infrastructure is shared among a large cybersecurity team. But with the right certification, you can get your foot in the door.
Excel. Despite being well over three decades old, Microsoft Excel is still heavily used throughout most of finance. The software is flexible enough that financial professionals in both small and large finance companies use it for data modeling, forecasting, budgeting, financial planning, and more.
While you won’t have your nose in the numbers as much as a finance professional, it will still help hugely if you understand at least the fundamentals of Excel. Not only will your finance colleagues respect you more, but you’ll be an asset to help troubleshoot and problem solve ongoing challenges and questions pertaining to this fundamental tool within the finance industry.
Big Data. The finance industry processes petabytes of structured and unstructured data annually. This data is used to analyze shares, evaluate companies, and make better forecasts, but also to anticipate customer behavior, prevent fraud, and speed up otherwise manual processes.
A big data certification demonstrates that you’re able to take complex, large raw datasets and squeeze the relevant insights out of them. Much of this is done in Excel, too, which is why a big data certification paired with an Excel certification is a great combo to find the finance job of your dreams.
Blockchain. Currently, there’s an entirely new financial industry being built with blockchain technology. It’s called DeFi: Decentralized Finance, and most of it is built on the Ethereum blockchain using the Solidity programming language. Big banks, such as Citi, and many other financial institutions are considering using either Ethereum or their own blockchain to offer some of their services to customers.
If you train to become a blockchain developer you’ll have employment opportunities not only with existing financial institutions, but also with financial startups that aim to disrupt the industry. It’s very exciting work.
The CFA Investment Foundation Program. Remember the acronyms we mentioned at the start of the article? The CFA Institute is the gold-standard certificate for the finance industry. Its investment foundation program is for those who want to have a clear understanding of the investment industry.
This certificate is particularly great if you have no experience working in the finance industry. It shows you’re willing to learn. It will make your IT job easier too, because you’ll at least understand the context around which you must do your job. Any IT decisions you make will be rooted in a deep understanding of the ethics and responsibilities around investment frameworks.
These 5 certifications will show financial institutions that you’re serious about an IT career in the finance industry. You’ll understand what’s relevant and required for finance companies in today’s world and prove you will help them stronghold the company against ongoing threats and regulatory pressures. Pick up one or two and you’ll be a much stronger candidate when applying for your next dream job in finance.
CEO, SkillUp Group