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Unexpected Areas of Financial Job Growth


An interview with Kunal Desai, CEO of Bulls on Wall Street

According to the Houston Chronicle, Texas has reported its 22nd month of job growth. In May alone, the state added more than 12,000 nonfarm jobs.

That growth is helping a lot of industries -- including finance.

"[Texas is] one of the spots that will probably still be growing for a long time," Kunal Desai, a former recruiter and the CEO of Bulls on Wall Street. "Because of the low tax situation there, you're getting a lot of companies moving their headquarters to Texas. Whether you're doing finance for a big oil company or Dell (DELL) or some startup, whatever it may be, that's a spot where you can really put some roots down and the job market is still very, very good there."

Desai said that three cities -- Houston, Austin, and Dallas -- have been strong for the past five years.

"They're still looking like they're going to be holding up," he said, adding that Chicago is "definitely a good spot for finance guys if they want a good city to be in."

"But I have not noticed that there's a huge amount of growth [in Chicago] compared to New York," said Desai. "I haven't noticed that anything has really changed."

However, you don't have to work at a bank to get hired. "If you're a finance guy, you might be an analyst working in finance at Boeing (BA) or Starbucks (SBUX), doing more of a corporate type of finance," Desai explained. "US companies have record cash on the books in terms of their balances. Profits are still at record highs. Those types of companies are still growing."

Ultimately, those are the firms that are beefing up their corporate finance teams. "It doesn't always have to be a Goldman (GS) or an investment bank," said Desai. "All companies need finance guys. So focusing on areas where there's job growth and then sectors within the economy, whether it's technology or something else, you should be able to find good jobs."

Desai said that Texas isn't the only place experiencing job growth. "Seattle is a great, growing area for tech companies [and] startups. There's so much action going on there. The cost of living is lower than Chicago or New York. And you can make six figures doing finance for companies like [Starbucks] that are booming."

If you're looking for work in a more traditional area, Desai told us that compliance accountants are in demand. "Getting good auditors, good accountants -- anyone with that type of background is also going to be a huge help" to companies facing new regulations, Desai explained.

"A lot of finance guys already had [some accounting training]," he added. "If you add a few more classes and you've got that type of skill, now you're much better-rounded and you've got a very specific skill that very few people have."

That said, Wall Street is still a very tough market. "It seems like it's very hit-or-miss right now," said Desai. "I know a lot of guys who had great jobs, and after the 2008 bust, a lot of those jobs haven't come back."

Part of the challenge comes from the transformation taking place at major banks. "What banks have essentially turned into is a giant hedge fund or a giant prop shop," said Desai. "So if you're a talented trader and you can bring in money to these banks instead of just loaning out money….then there's room for people like that."

Unfortunately, Desai said that there are only a "handful of people" that do that successfully.

"[For] the regular Joe's, there's not much hiring going on in that [sector]," said Desai.

That being the case, where should job seekers turn? Desai said that a lot of these guys will have to "transition away from just working at a typical bank and being a junior analyst" and start "specializing their skills."

"Where are the trends going in the financial markets?" Desai asked, then answered, "Prop trading, high frequency trading, algorithmic trading -- [these are] all different avenues where people are pointing their resources and money."

"Getting a good base of computer skills, mathematical skills, being able to understand algorithms and programming and things of that nature, now you've got yourself an added skill set beyond your financial talents that will help you get hired," said Desai.

"So to just have a general finance degree, you don't have enough skills because that is something a lot of people feel you can learn on the run," Desai concluded. "But programming and computer skills are very specialized and you've got to have them, and very few people do."

Twitter: @StreetID

This article originally appeared on StreetID.
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