By now, you’d realised that you will need more than a stratospheric CGPA to get hired in the financial sector. What you may not realise is that some of the traits and attributes that globe-spanning firms seek are not just high IQ or aggressiveness.
Here are some of the requirements those working in the industry have said would help you score that finance job.
Lenard Cheong, from Great Eastern Life Assurance (Malaysia) Berhad, says having integrity and a strong moral compass are essential in a sector where you are in charge of other people’s hard-earned money and savings. “Mental agility, moral fibre and integrity are important because your work is your life and if you have a moral core, that helps a lot.”
According to Datuk Maimoonah Hussain of Affin Hwang Capital, kind and humble people, and pleasant personalities create good work environments and are key to getting the best out of employees. “We demand a lot of our employees. You work long hours, you spend more than half of your waking hours at your job,” says Maimoonah, Group Managing Director at Specialist Investment Banking Group Affin Hwang Capital. “You want an office that people can look forward to coming in the morning.”
In her experience, work environments that nurture camaraderie between colleagues generate more effective employees compared with ones where there is intense competition among workers, which eventually leads to infighting.
“I want a place where people enjoy working with each other. We want an organisation where there is minimal internal competition. With internal competition, you can get the best out of anyone because you are pitting one against the other but then you will start infighting, which we work hard to avoid.”
Maimoonah’s emphasis on humility may seem out of place since the finance sector is filled with strong, outgoing personalities. But, in fact, a humble attitude keeps people grounded and never complacent and in the end, makes them stay at the top of their game.
“If you think you are good and no one is better than you, then you start being complacent and you forget what brought you there in the first place, such as the ability to continuously learn,” says Maimoonah.
The ability to work well and relate to others is a key component of becoming an effective and dependable leader. For PwC partner Pauline Ho, leadership ability is not just about giving orders and being smarter than your teammates. It’s also about taking personal responsibility and accountability for your decisions.
Interpersonal skills do not just apply to colleagues and bosses since being able to interact well with others of a different background is essential to delivering quality for clients.
Ho says, “You don’t just see your clients as people you have to deal with when you come to work. It is also how you’re able to relate to them, understand their issues and bring in your experience to deliver innovative solutions and add value to them.”
And given that firms like PwC work across the world, being able to communicate across different cultures is crucial.
“There must be an appreciation of working cross-border. Of interacting with people of different backgrounds, cultures and disciplines. Being able to work with people of different races, we need cultural dexterity given the diversity of our country,” says Ho.
Ultimately, many of the finance firms seek fresh graduates who are “good” people. Not just “good” in terms of technical proficiency and knowledge of their field, but “good” in terms of their values and how they treat others.