The event, which has grown in popularity and is now being held for the third time, focused this time on employment prospects in the field of finance and the nature of financial work. Being tested by the students were four experts in the field, who each shared their career history and answered questions about the good and bad aspects of work in the field based on their own experience.
The event was held on 31 March 2015, and was opened by Tanja Makkonen from the School of Business' Career Services, who spoke of finance major students being a highly valued resource in the labour market, since no less than 86% of master's graduates are already in work at the point of graduation. Of these, as many as 93% are engaged in work which corresponds to their training either well or quite well. It is no wonder then that a full 100% of finance students are, from a careers perspective, still satisfied with their chosen degree five years after graduating.
A strong theoretical foundation combined with practical challenges
Mikko Tynkkynen from the management consulting-focused Boston Consulting Group and Tomi Terho, Capital Investor with Intera Partners, are finance graduates from the School of Business, and they both spoke of gaining certainty about their choice of major from the Introduction to Finance course. The course's teaching still does the job; a strong theoretical foundation combined with practical case studies gives a realistic picture of the field and of future work prospects. The department's international and occasionally competitive atmosphere were also attractive features.
Antti Suhonen, who has had a long career in the banking world in London and Finland and now works as the department's Professor of Practice, stated that finance students are characterised by an interest in investment and marketing, a target-orientated nature and the desire to challenge and push themselves. Once graduated, students have at their command many tools for solving different problem situations. Anne Laurikainen from Pohjola Pankki Oyj, who has worked in finance for 17 years, emphasised the sector's diversity and the application of value creation thinking in all client relationships.
Is everyone aiming for London?
'A London investment bank, that's what everyone is aiming for', is an often heard comment when speaking of finance major students. But is a career in London worth the effort?
'If you put yourself through that mangle at the beginning your career, it forms a habit which lasts a lifetime, at least in terms of time management and career planning', said Antti Suhonen.
'At the beginning of one's career, it is important what kind of people one is working with, and in this regard London can be a very good place', added Tomi Terho, who was also worked in London's banking sector.
On the other hand, Antti believes that for young recent graduates one challenge is that they want to immediately advance at speed and take on big positions.
'The fact is that if you go to London, you will get really good in that particular area, but you will not receive such broad experience in such a wide range of tasks as you would in a smaller organisation somewhere in Finland.
The guests stressed that at the start of one's career it is worth participating, for example, in summer internship programs, which will help make clear and concrete what work in the financial sector is like. The statistics also show that nearly a third of people received their first finance job while getting to know the field and working in the place in question during their time of studies.
The highs and the lows
All the guest speakers were in agreement that the best moments at work were when something significant takes place and things move forward.
'That feeling when something is achieved together as a team, whether its the sale of a company or the development of a business or an increase in turnover', Tomi Terho explained. Mikko Tynkkynen was of the same opinion:
'When I sense a strong personal responsibility for the fact that the team is functioning and the issue in hand is concretely moving forward.'
Of course, there are low points as well.
'The most challenging thing is when a client approaches you with a very vague problem', Anne Laurikainen said. Antti Suhonen remembers the feelings generated by the most recent financial crisis:
'A terribly large amount of time went into internal meetings which attempted to solve the problems dictated by the operating environment, problems which it was not however possible to have an influence on. It was frustrating.'
Porsche or Volvo?
A strong analytical orientation and good communication skills. A readiness to look for solutions. In addition to excellent excel skills, the ability to see the whole picture and move forward through communication and interaction with others. The ability to discuss with clients and understand their business environment. The ability to apply value creation thinking in practice and to sell expertise.
These are the qualities which our visiting experts particularly stressed when asked by students what kind of person is suited to work in the financial sector, and what characteristics are particularly important for those working in the field.
One guest playfully urged his listeners to ask themselves whether they would prefer an unreliable Porsche or a reliable Volvo. If the answer is Porsche, then welcome to the world of finance!