9 Career Goals in Finance (And Why They're Important)

Updated March 16, 2023

If you work in finance, your career goals can help you work toward earning senior positions, increasing your earnings and achieving job satisfaction. Developing clear goals and planning milestones for growth may help you achieve more success in your finance career. Learning about common goals in this field can help you set objectives and find more fulfillment in your work.

In this article, we explain why it's important to develop career goals in finance, list nine examples of goals and provide tips to help you set your own.

Why develop career goals in finance?

Developing career goals in finance is important because goals provide focus and encouragement for accomplishing certain results. In a financial career, you can set milestones to measure your success and help you become more successful. For example, you might develop a goal to become a certified financial planner, and you can measure your progress by tracking short-term goals, such as studying for the certification exam.

Creating and accomplishing goals can also provide satisfaction that helps retain your interest in your financial career. Long-term goals give you something to anticipate and feel excited about regarding your work. Achieving goals at work might also improve your personal life by helping you meet your financial goals and work-life balance goals.

9 career goals in finance

Having goals for your finance career may help you accomplish more professionally and provide you with job satisfaction. You can set short- or long-term goals and focus on achieving specific results. Here are nine career goals you can set as someone who works in finance:

1. Advance your education

Advancing your education is a common goal because it boosts your credentials and offers potential benefits such as promotions or salary increases. If you already have a Bachelor of Science in Finance or a related degree, you may work toward a master's degree in a financial topic, such as risk management. This may help you qualify for senior roles or higher-paying positions.

Another option to advance your education is to attend training. You can train to develop soft skills, such as communication, or technical skills, such as accounting. Learning new skills may help you improve your job performance, which might also increase your job satisfaction.

Related: What Can You Do With a Master of Finance Degree?

2. Earn a certification

You can also set a goal to earn a certification in finance to help advance your career. Certifications can help you specialize and find work you enjoy. There are many options for financial certification, including:

  • Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA)

  • Certified Financial Planner (CFP)

  • Certified Public Accountant (CPA)

  • Financial Risk Manager (FRM)

  • Certified Management Accountant (CMA)

  • Chartered Financial Consultant (ChFC)

  • Certified Investment Management Analyst (CIMA)

  • Chartered Market Technician (CMT)

The Financial Management Association (FMA) offers these certifications after you complete coursework, pass an exam and meet specific requirements that involve your experience and education level.

3. Become a manager

Becoming a manager is a great goal to set if you have an interest in increasing your opportunities, accepting additional responsibilities and being a leader in the workplace. Managers in finance oversee accountants, analysts and administrative assistants. Financial managers and senior financial analysts are examples of managerial positions in finance.

To become a manager, you may earn an advanced degree in finance or obtain a certification in a specific area. Try to show your employer you can handle additional responsibilities so that they may consider you when a promotion is available. It's also helpful to be a leader in the workplace and develop these skills. You can do this by supporting your coworkers and offering solutions to issues that may arise.

Related: 11 Ways To Demonstrate Your Leadership Skills at Work

4. Increase your salary

Earning a raise may enable you to achieve more personal goals, such as buying a house or traveling. In the finance industry, you can often increase your earnings by getting a certification. Employers typically value employees with specialized knowledge and may pay more to keep them with the company. Promotions can also help you earn raises.

Another option to increase your salary is to earn performance bonuses. Employers may offer these as incentives to help the company achieve its goals. For example, as a financial manager, you may handle budgets and receive a reward for developing a strategy to operate under the budget and reduce company costs. Accountants may also gain performance bonuses for increasing their client roster, or a financial analyst might earn a bonus for accurately forecasting the financial future of a company and preparing it for new market trends.

5. Find a mentor

Finding a mentor is a good way to advance your education and develop new skills. You can find a mentor by talking with managers or those in senior roles to gauge whether they have an interest in mentoring you. Attending industry conferences and networking events can also help you find a mentor. Choosing someone in a job role you're working toward or someone with achievements you also plan to accomplish may be useful in reaching your career goals.

When you find a potential mentor, consider sharing your career goals with them and explaining what you're trying to learn. This can help them decide if they can be your mentor. You can also invite them to meet you outside of work or at a networking event to learn more about them and ask them to be your mentor. It can be helpful to share why you chose them and why you feel they're the best individual to mentor you.

Related: How To Ask Someone To Be Your Mentor (Plus Template)

6. Mentor someone else

Becoming a mentor after you gain experience in the financial industry can be a great way to expand your network and help other people. By coaching others, you may experience satisfaction and excitement for your work. You may also desire to be a mentor if you had one earlier in your career.

To find someone to offer your mentorship to, you can attend networking events and meet people who are entering the field. You may also do an internal search at the company where you work and speak with entry-level coworkers. It's useful to offer mentorship to individuals in positions where you have extensive knowledge or experience. For example, if you began working as an accountant and earned certifications to become a financial planner, you might look for accountants who you can mentor.

Related: How To Become a Mentor (With FAQs)

7. Start a business

Starting and owning your own business can provide you with more freedom in your work. After gaining experience in the industry, you may have enough knowledge to start your own accounting firm, become a financial consultant or work as an investment manager. Starting your own business requires planning, initial capital and a strategy to acquire customers. The ability to choose your clients, working hours and salary can be very beneficial.

There are many opportunities to be self-employed or start a business in the financial industry. Consulting is a popular choice because you can offer consults for nearly every financial expertise. For example, financial analysts may start a consulting business and analyze companies' financial records and create a forecast for them. Financial planners can consult with businesses or private clients to help them develop financial goals and strategies to achieve these goals.

Related: How To Start Your Own Business in 9 Steps

8. Optimize budgets

Optimizing budgets is a short-term goal that some people who work in finance may have, depending on their role. For example, accountants, financial planners and financial analysts may have job tasks relating to the company budget. Optimizing the budget may help you accomplish company goals and earn recognition from your employer.

You can optimize budgets by identifying areas for improvement in financial records, reducing company expenses or optimizing resource allocation, which can decrease operational costs. Tracking market trends and creating accurate financial forecasts can help you develop a better budget. You might also monitor reoccurring costs to find where you may reduce spending.

Related: Creating an Operating Budget (With Template and Example)

9. Attract new clients

Attracting new clients to the financial firm or business where you work may increase revenue for the company, help you earn a performance bonus or promotion and enable the company to offer employees additional perks and benefits. Regardless of your role with the company, you might be able to acquire new clients for the business by requesting that your current clients give a referral to their friends or acquaintances.

You can reward clients for referring new clients by offering discount services, merchandise or monetary rewards. You may also suggest ideas to market your services to a new audience or share ways to reach more consumers. For example, if you work at a bank, it may be useful to expand your target audience and send a representative to college campuses to set up students with accounts.

Tips for setting finance career goals

Here are a few tips to help you set career goals in finance:

Make an action plan

Identify what you want to achieve in your finance career. Review your career goals and examine what you want to achieve in three years, five years or 10 years. Write down your objectives, then make an action plan for each career goal you set. For instance, if you want to make $30,000 more in one year, consider writing that goal down and creating an action plan to make it happen.

Outline short-term goals

Identify the short-term goals that are necessary to meet your long-term career goals. Then, determine tasks or activities that can help you advance these short-term goals. Make sure these are tasks that you can imagine yourself doing regularly and that fit into your daily routine. It's often easier to do small, incremental modifications, such as improving your product output or increasing your ability to focus.

Use the SMART method

There are some strategies you can use to make the process of setting finance career goals easier. One of these strategies is the SMART method, which stands for specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and timely. This method requires you to simplify goals into smaller milestones that you can easily manage. Consider identifying the long-term and short-term steps, then make sure they're measurable so that you can monitor your progress.

Please note that the company mentioned in this article is not affiliated with Indeed.

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