Published on December 11, 2018, at 11:50 a.m.
by Anna Claire Toxey.
When people think about careers in public relations some of the first industries that come to mind include sports, entertainment and fashion. Since individuals view these industries as glamorous and full of exciting opportunities, they often have the tendency to forget lesser-known PR sectors.
Financial communications is arguably one of the most valuable sectors of PR, yet tops the list of industries that are overlooked. At times, this industry is characterized by overwhelming numerical data, the need to possess a business degree and confusing jargon. However, according to two financial PR professionals, obtaining a job in financial communications is easier than these common misconceptions might lead one to believe.
A business degree is not necessary
While it may be reasonable to believe that a business degree or business-related work history is needed to work in financial communications, Brunswick Group Account Researcher Jada Culver says that this is not the case.
According to Culver, a willingness to learn about the industry holds far greater value than any business degree.
“I think anyone interested in financial PR should really just be someone who gets all of the foundational knowledge that you can about it,” Culver said. “Understand markets, business and the economy as best you can.”
Culver and BCW Global Account Supervisor Catharine Cody agree that in order to gain a strong foundational understanding of these concepts, students and professionals alike must immerse themselves in reading the news. They suggest dedicating time to reading prominent publications such as The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal, in addition to newsletters such as The Daily Skimm and Axios, in order to stay up to date on industry trends and relevant financial news.
“You always need to be aware of what’s going on and how that will affect your [clients] as well,” said Cody.
Although Culver and Cody agree that a business background is not imperative to success in the industry, they do believe that taking basic business courses can help better prepare an individual for work in the financial sector. Investing the time in taking a micro- or macroeconomics course can only enhance one’s financial literacy and business knowledge, Culver explained.
You do not need “special” skills
Contrary to popular belief, possessing “special” skills is not a requirement for securing a job in financial communications. The skills that are vital to success in other sectors of PR are equally as important in finance.
“A lot of skills are transferable. The thing I would love to demystify is that you don’t have to have this extensive background or even these extensive skills that pertain to financial markets and the business world to have a job like mine,” Culver said.
Time management, research, writing and analytical skills are among the most important competencies an individual should possess when working in financial communications, according to Culver.
While Cody also believes that these skills are critical to achieving success in the industry, she says that a large part of working in finance is learning as you go. Understanding concepts such as financial jargon, business practices and company earnings can be a daunting task, but taking the time to read and research can prove extremely beneficial.
Cody notes that she is still learning new things about the industry every day, and that in order to be successful you must “admit to mistakes and that you don’t know everything.”
The finance sector is not boring
To many outsiders, a career in financial communications may appear to be monotonous. However, work in finance often reflects a typical day in any other sector of PR.
“From 9 to 5, I am walking in on high alert on what is going on and what needs to be addressed with my clients, attending meetings and doing a lot of analysis and research,” Culver explained about her average workday.
Working in finance brings new opportunities and new challenges each day that communications professionals must always be ready to meet with innovative solutions. From analyzing earnings reports and company filings to conducting research for clients, financial communications boasts a vast array of work.
“Financial communications is fast-paced. It is rapidly changing and evolving to deal with the business and critical issues around the world that companies are facing today,” Culver said.
Although a career in financial communications can seem intimidating, it is imperative that individuals do not let these misconceptions keep them from pursuing a career in the industry.
“You have to be able to know that you’re going to fail and learn from those failures. I fail every single day and you just have to pick yourself back up and move forward,” Cody said.
It may take time, and learning from many mistakes, to understand the financial communications industry, but those with or without a business background can attain success with a little hard work and perseverance.