So You Wanna Be Successful In Finance?

Finance, a treasure island where people can be millionaires in hours, also a black hole which may lead us to an irreversible crisis.

just a normal day at the nation's most important financial institution

I chose finance as my major, not only because its competitiveness which I feel excited about but various types of the jobs provided in this industry. A stock trader may start days at 5 am. An investment bank is more likely to spend a whole night in a club. Despite all the differences among the jobs, one thing I learned quickly from this industry is the importance of communicating appropriately.


One important communication skill in finance is to slow down the pace in a conversation. Finance people talk really fast (and sometimes even faster than Google Translator) without making sure that others understand. It seems like that the faster you speak, the richer you will be. Alright, this is not the case. Slowing down may seem counterintuitive, but it actually saves time on potential follow-up questions or misunderstand.


The second skill which may be useful is to find and set the right level of detail, and it is not easy to hit the balance between giving out too little details or too much information. Therefore, we may want to prepare two answers for each question (if time allows), one short answer for giving out at the first and one long explanation in case of anyone asks for the detail.


The third skill. Nowadays, financial markets change rapidly under increased globalization. Emerging countries are driving the world and turning into new superpowers. This also requires us to develop a more comprehensive communication skills by valuing people’s culture backgrounds. Fortunately, I have been working in three different continentals (yes, it’s cool), so I suggest that we should start with high- and low- context cultures.


When I talk to my Canadian colleagues and west European colleagues, who are generally low-context cultured, we are quite straight to each other. They say what they mean to say. And they play by external rules with more interpersonal connections.


However, it was totally different when I deal with my Japanese colleagues. People from Japan, a high-context culture country, work more on the relationships. And they rarely tell you how they fell, so sometimes I have to guess what their inner voice is. The real problem is that they never say “No” to anyone. They believe a direct rejection make both sides look embarrassed. (well, doesn’t it look much worse if you tell someone a “no” after you said a “yes” to them?)


There are way more communication skills which are useful and can contribute to our careers. But if there is only one skill which we should learn, that will be the rhetorical triangle: audience, context and purpose, which is the cornerstone of any communication.



One thought on “So You Wanna Be Successful In Finance?

  1. I have always loved that cartoon – good choice! really highlights what you want to say. Thanks for sharing info about how different cultures approach communication. Context is everything!


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