Firms in the industry
Employers in the financial services industry include firms that provide specialised financial services such as actuarial consultancies (e.g. Aon), insurance companies like AIA, Tokio Marine and Allianz; and retail banks such as Maybank, CIMB Bank and RHB Bank. Meanwhile, Bank Negara Malaysia and the Securities Commission Malaysia (SC) are regulatory bodies in this industry that ensure compliance is observed in financial transactions and activities.
The type of firm you join will depend on the role you choose to take on. If you choose to join a larger corporation, you will generally enjoy much more structured support and training. New hires in major financial services conglomerates can expect to undergo a comprehensive training programme that gives them a broad rotation across different areas of the business.
On the other hand, if you join a smaller financial services firm, you can expect a lot more flexibility and ownership over your own work. These firms offer a more personalised touch for staff, and you may end up working in interesting niches that larger firms may not cover or working with more highly-customisable financial products and services.
There are many career possibilities in the financial services industry, including but not limited to:
• Commercial banker
• Financial planner
• Insurance broker
• Insurance claims handlers
• Product manager
• Retail banker
The ideal candidate
The financial services sector in Malaysia has undergone major changes in the last two years, with an increasing number of customers choosing to self-service personal financial products through online platforms. In addition, the proliferation of e-payments and the issuance of new digital banking licenses to companies without traditional brick-and-mortar banking operations has been another big change for employers within this industry. Candidates boasting strong IT and data analysis skills are in huge demand now as financial services firms look to navigate these major digital shifts.
Besides skills like teamwork and communication, employers are also seeking candidates with strong empathy and people skills who can guide clients through making major financial decisions at critical times. For example, having exemplary persuasion and negotiation skills isn’t enough for a financial services consultant. Candidates would also need to be able to see things from the client’s perspective, identify their needs, and then devise corresponding financial planning strategies that a client can feel reassured with.
The ability to innovate and provide fresh perspectives is also valued by financial services organisations that wish to stay relevant in today’s society. Other sought-after skills include market intelligence and analytical skills, which will help you find and offer value-added services to ensure customer satisfaction.
Working in the industry
Compared to investment banking, the financial services industry has more regular (or flexible) working hours, and candidates may have an easier time maintaining a healthier work-life balance as a result. While basic salaries may not be as high as those working in investment banking or fund management, earning potential in financial services is still quite generous – especially for sales commission-based roles.
When applying for entry-level positions, the key is to identify the most rewarding entry-level jobs in terms of future career prospects and salary. Take the time to think if the job will be the best fit for your abilities and interests. Once you have narrowed down your search, you can begin applying!
Last but not least, if you decide to pursue a career as an actuary, bear in mind that employees are often required to balance full-time work and further studies to attain professional qualifications in order to progress in their careers.