Practical analysis for investment professionals
26 November 2013

Poll: Why Did You Pursue a Career in Finance?

Last week in the CFA Institute Financial NewsBrief, we asked readers a personal question: What was the primary reason you pursued a career in finance?

Which statement best explains why you pursued a career in finance?
Poll: Which statement best explains why you pursued a career in finance?

For most respondents, the answer has a lot more to do with interest and chance and a lot less to do with money or prestige. A clear majority (54%) of the 1,011 respondents say they pursued a career in finance because it interested them the most. But “choice” can be an illusion because we may be led into a career by circumstances and chance. Accordingly, circumstances and chance was the explanation selected by 26% of respondents.

Although finance is often associated with the “greed is good” school of thought, relatively better compensation than other career paths stands a distant third in the poll results, selected by only 10% of respondents. Could this be a result of political correctness by respondents who work in financial services? They may deserve the benefit of the doubt, because the poll is anonymous and not everyone in finance makes the kind of compensation that reads like a telephone number.

John Taft, the CEO of RBC Wealth Management recently advised young professionals to assess their motivations for entering finance. If making money is the primary motivation, he said, then you are on the wrong track.

Financial professionals have much to do to regain public trust, but at the risk of making a subjective generalization from these results, it seems that many are entering finance for the right reason.

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All posts are the opinion of the author. As such, they should not be construed as investment advice, nor do the opinions expressed necessarily reflect the views of CFA Institute or the author’s employer.

About the Author(s)
Usman Hayat, CFA

Usman Hayat, CFA, writes about sustainable, responsible, and impact investing and Islamic finance. He is the lead author of "Environmental, Social, and Governance Issues in Investing: A Guide for Investment Professionals;" the literature review, "Islamic Finance: Ethics, Concepts, Practice;" and the research report "Sustainable, Responsible, and Impact Investing and Islamic Finance: Similarities and Differences." He is interested in online learning and has directed three e-courses for CFA Institute: "ESG-100," "Islamic Finance Quiz," and "Residual Income Equity Valuation." The other topics he writes about are macroeconomics and behavioral finance. He has experience working in securities regulation and as an independent consultant. His qualifications include the CFA charter, the FRM designation, an MBA, and an MA in development economics. He has served as a content director at CFA Institute. He is a former executive director at the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) and former CEO of the Audit Oversight Board (Pakistan). His personal interests include reading and hiking.

2 thoughts on “Poll: Why Did You Pursue a Career in Finance?”

  1. James says:

    OK, I get it, finance interested me the most because it paid the most 🙂

  2. James,

    Thanks for sharing your witty comment!

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