Finance is believed to be what economics is to social sciences. It primarily focuses on human decision making with more sophisticated tools than what economics uses.
From career perspectives, in a world largely reliant on business and technology, finance is one of the heavily sought after disciplines.
In the context of Bangladesh, where the job market diversification is scarce, finance still holds its grounds strong among the corporations and organisations. Choosing finance, thus, is an easy decision for Bangladeshi business students.
Why finance: Firstly, the ubiquity of finance bestows the students with numerous opportunities in the job market. Since finance is at the heart of every business decision making, it gives assurance that one will not end up unemployed after studying finance if one is hard-working. Secondly, finance makes one competent both in personal and corporate spheres. It entails collecting data, going through them and drawing insights from them to make a decision based on the insights.
Studying finance can encourage one to see the world from different perspectives. One such case is price and value differentiation. The market puts a price on a commodity, while finance puts a value on the commodity. The value is just its worth to different consumers. Also, financial planning can facilitate self-improvement. It includes planning on expenditures, listing priorities, and visualising the results and working towards them.
Career opportunities: Finance graduates are always in high demand in today's ever-evolving job market. However, it is one of the most challenging careers to pursue. Before entering the job market, one has to identify which part of finance suits his/her interest. The primary destinations of finance graduates are corporates, governmental financial institutions, Non-banking financial institutions (NBFI) and commercial banking in Bangladesh.
Commercial banking: In Bangladesh, most finance graduates pursue commercial bank jobs for obvious reasons such as higher salaries and learning opportunities. However, SM Ishtiaque, currently working as the head of digital loan underwriting at BRAC Bank limited, shares a different view. He opines, "Recent upsurge of interest in commercial banks among finance graduates is influenced by the security of such jobs. Since lay-off rates are much higher in other sectors of finance, it explains why this is a much-coveted job."
However, Mr Ishtiaque thinks that commercial banks require a lot of skills that are sophisticated in nature and unrelated to the mainstream study materials. "Such sophisticated tools demand amplification of your skillset," he continues, "that is where the challenge factor comes in. If you are unable to cope up with the changes, you are more likely to be replaced."
Non-bank financial organisations: Another likely destination for finance graduates is NBFI, based mostly on the capital market. Mr Ishtiaque, who also worked for IDLC as the head of the business transformation, recalls, "There is a great uncertainty attached to the capital market. Once the capital market crashes, your job is in danger."
He has, however, agreed on the wide range of opportunities for finance graduates. "Finance is common to all the industries and considered one of the survival means of an industry," he shared.
Opportunities abroad: Around five to 10 per cent of finance graduates lean towards competing with international competitors after completing their postgraduates abroad. According to Mr Ishtiaque, with the rising need for market research and data analysis, there is a huge opportunity abroad for finance graduates.
Mr Ishtiaque believes the most important thing is to identify the field of interest and consult with seniors about what set of skills that particular field requires and focus on honing those skills. Mr Ishtiaque posits that aspirants tend to diversify their skillset and end up unlearning all of them. That is why it is more important to learn fewer skills but with great care and attention.