Financial Education – a window to greater opportunities in financial services sector

Posted on: September 8, 2021 | By:

(The Association of International Wealth Management of India (AIWMI) is a not-for-profit organisation and a globally recognised membership association for finance professionals)

With a favourable demography of 65% population below 35 years of age, increasing digital adoption, low penetration of financial services for a large population – paving way for more opportunities, and a vibrant, young modern consumer base focussing on wealth creation and maximising from investments, India is truly buoyed to be the next financial services hub of the world. Availability of newer, technologically-sound, secure and convenient modes of transacting, trading and investing, including a slew of investment applications available on the smartphone, has now piqued the interest of a new age of investors who are exploring the depths of finance with stock exchange, mutual funds, wealth management, cryptocurrency, earning extra with less effort.

In a country with at least a 130-crore population, there are at least two crore mutual fund portfolios and an increasing number of youngsters are now investing in these eyeing an additional source of income.

Buoyed by such a robust demand, Indian fintech companies will reach a valuation of US$150-160 billion by 2025, becoming three times more valuable in five years, suggests a report by the Boston Consulting Group released March 2021 – underlining the requirement for a bigger workforce.

However, with dynamic needs of the evolving consumer of financial services, financial literacy as well as financial education is critical to the next phase of growth of the world’s fastest growing fintech market.

Emerging opportunities in financial services sector

Rising awareness about managing one’s money right and maximising wealth through strategic investments, has led to an increase in the need for the right consultants and experts in the financial services sector. This, in fact, makes the financial services sector is one of the biggest employers in the country offering a bouquet of diverse work opportunities.

Moreover, as technology took the centre stage in developing futuristic financial services platforms, experts project the Fintech sector to grow exponentially in the years to come. India in fact has fewer wealth advisor per 100 investors. Moreover, there are merely 2,000 Certified Financial Planners (CFPs) across the country. The scope for employment in the emerging financial services sector, therefore, makes way for plenty of young and energetic professionals.

In fact, financial sector generates a lot of independent employment. For instance, a lot of informal consultants as well as professional financial advisors to individuals and companies widely operate in this sector. Moreover, increasing use of technology besides the inherent diversity in the segment brings along diverse professional roles, making way for people with varied skill sets to work in this area.

With avenues for investments expanding, more fintech start-ups mushrooming and existing financial services firms getting more traction, the requirement for people in this sector has also grown, leaving more youngsters aspiring for a career in the financial sector.

Growing need for skilled professionals

With the growing financial services sector, opportunities are aplenty but the need for skilled professionals who are well-versed with the rapid changes in the sector is growing. Modern day financial education is a few steps ahead handling personal finances and creating contingency funds and retirement plans.

Instead, professionals in the finance market are required to have a sound understanding of the investment avenues, newer and emerging technologies and ability to project and make better financial decisions through effective management of money and debt.

The new age work force is required to be more agile and adaptable to effectively deal with the rapid changes on both financial and technological fronts.

India is home to some 4,000 colleges and educational institutions offering MBA courses, which have a dedicated finance department on campus. However, there is a huge gap between the education imparted in these institutions and what the dynamic market requirements. Even though millions of students enrol themselves in these institutions having spent lakhs over tuition fees and survival expenditures, finding jobs with growth opportunities is often farfetched. Most such students therefore either land in sales jobs and every few opt for additional courses for specialisation.

For instance, almost a million people are currently preparing for the chartered accountancy (CA) exam. Side by side the demand for globally acclaimed financial programmes such as Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA), Certified Public Accountant (CPA) is steadily growing with at least 20,000 people enrolling for courses every single year. India’s two key stock exchanges – the Bombay Stock Exchange and the National Stock Exchange are also offering an array of certification courses in the financial services sector, which see an enrolment of about a lakh people every single year.

Increasing uptakes for specialised courses to hone one’s skills or add-on new skill sets underlines the need for better quality financial education that will shape professionals suited for industry requirements.

Effectively addressing the industry-academia skill gap

Its imperative to urgently address the widening need gap between industry’s requirements and pushing the benchmark for education in the financial sector. Going a step beyond offering training and certification courses, there’s a need for holistic approach to imparting financial education using different learning methodologies to keep the student’s interest intact and keep the process relevant to them. Institutions like the Association of International Wealth Management of India (AIWMI) are striving to raise the bar for quality of education and paving the way to establish a standard of learning, from time to time through breakthrough initiatives such as Qualifi India. Students at large benefit from such insightful sessions but more so, those living in tier-III, tier-IV towns can access quality education with opportunities to learn from say a CXO of a large mutual fund company or a PMS company through the virtual platform.

Focussing on 360-degree professional development, fuelling the overall growth of students through their education and upskilling interventions is the way forward for  the role of financial education in developing a robust financial services sector.