Dedicated finance courses were once reserved for those with ambitions for a finance related career: budding accountants, HR and payroll staff, or individuals interested in corporate banking. However, the latest research into some of the country's most prestigious roles demonstrate some interesting findings; that a financial background and experience is the key not only to getting into many FTSE 100 companies, but also to job progression and promotion.
Financial recruiter, Robert Half reports that over half of all CEOs have some degree of financial experience. CEOs with other backgrounds, such as hospitality, marketing and technology, are incredibly rare, at just 9 percent, 8 percent and 4 percent respectively - a massive difference compared to the 52 percent of CEOs experienced in financial matters. A coincidence? Possibly, but with additional research showing that an estimated 12 percent of FTSE 100 finance positions transcend into CEO roles, it certainly points towards the fact that taking a financial course is one of the most important career decisions job seekers can make.
Here are some of the most beneficial financial courses available for aspiring CEOs in the UK today:
The ACCA course is one of the most important in the financial world, and culminates in successful participants qualifying as chartered accountants. The course is intense and lengthy, with participants required to complete a minimum of three years in an entry level financial position in the industry, as well as pass at least 14 out of 16 module based examinations. Existing students should take note of the changes to the 2013 syllabus, including additions to modules and clarifications, but can be confident that the structure of the course remains the same as in previous years.
The course is truly an all-rounder, covering everything from financial accounting and taxation to business law and ethics. The ACCA course can not only improve career prospects and understanding of business accounts, but with the qualification being recognised globally, it opens up opportunities for international dealings. The ACCA course is particularly suited to those already working in a financial position (but without any official financial qualifications) who want to further their career. It also offers an excellent way onto the CEO or CFO pathway.
The CFA course is one of the best ways to secure a role within a FTSE 100 company, with the likes of HSBC, a recurrent FTSE 100 member, being one of the top CFA employers in the world. The course is self-study, with six three-hour examinations leading to the qualification. The current examinations, modules and structure remain unchanged from previous years, and study materials are available from a wide range of educational establishments, both physical and online.
CFA focuses on investment banking, covering general topics such as economics and corporate finance through to specialist investment topics such as equity investments and portfolio management. The aim of the course is to provide individuals with an internationally recognised qualification demonstrating a solid link between investment theory and practice, and is one of the only courses to offer this. To be eligible for training, students must have some form of experience, totalling four years. However, participants can acquire this four year total from a combination of university study and practical work experience. The CFA offers an excellent way to break into FTSE 100 companies and into the stock exchange.
CIMA qualifications are frequently seen amongst CEOs and CFOs, and as well as providing one of the ways to become an internationally recognised chartered management accountant, they also act as a stepping stone to a role at a FTSE 100 company. Like the ACCA course, the CIMA course is a lengthy and in depth process, comprising 15 examinations spread amongst a range of modules, and a minimum of three years experience in a professional financial role.
While standard financial topics such as ethics, economics and accounting are included on the course, CIMA differs from other financial courses by tending to focus upon management aspects, with modules such as enterprise management, performance management and overall financial management. Unlike other courses, CIMA is more suited to those with extensive prior experience, particularly a postgraduate finance degree from an accredited university. Those without such qualifications will be required to pass a foundation course and examination before being accepted onto the syllabus.
The Truth Behind the Statistics
Recruitment specialist, Marks Sattin emphasises the importance of financial courses for those wanting to secure employment with a prestigious FTSE 100 company by reporting that 6 out of 10 FTSE 100 businesses are now run by executives with a financial background, and that figure is growing all the time. Back in the 1990s, it was roughly 3 out of 10, and this growth really does serve to demonstrate the power that financial courses have within the industry.