Top 5 Most Valuable Finance Career Skills of 2020

The world is changing rapidly and that means the most valuable career skills for today’s jobs are not necessarily the same as they were twenty or thirty years ago. In fact, some may have changed from only five years ago. In finance, as in many other industries, the most valuable career skills for today’s jobs involve a mix of both tech heavy skills and soft skills. In a competitive industry like finance, an awareness of the most valuable career skills is especially important. If you’re looking to begin or advance a career in finance, these are the top five career skills you’ll want to have.

Knowledge of Structured Query Language (SQL)

Structured Query Language (SQL) is a programming language for managing databases and has been rated one of the most in-demand job skills for those working in either finance or marketing. Why SQL as opposed to other programming languages?

SQL is unique because out of the hundreds of different programming languages, it’s essentially the only one used for interacting and posing queries to databases. This makes SQL an especially valuable programming language for industries that revolve around the interpretation of data, such as finance. Financial companies are using more data and they need employees who have the skills needed to use tools, such as SQL, that can help them make the most of that data.

Proficiency in Excel

Excel gives companies the ability to take raw data and turn it into valuable information. No matter what area of finance you end up in, it’s likely you’ll end up working with data in a spreadsheet sooner or later, which is why knowledge of Excel is so advantageous. In this day and age, collecting data is fairly easy. The challenge lies in analyzing this data so that companies can put it to good use. Therefore, true proficiency in Excel extends beyond memorization of formulas, and instead combines data literacy, critical thinking, and tech savviness.

Financial Analysis

Financial analysis involves taking a company’s financial data and using it to evaluate performance and make recommendations. Like proficiency in Excel and knowledge of SQL, financial analysis is about data analysis and using data effectively. Unlike proficiency in Excel and knowledge of SQL, mastery of financial analysis is more abstract, and the learning process is always ongoing.

No matter how good you are at financial analysis, an ever-evolving world means there’s always room for improvement. That means that if you want to remain competitive in your industry, you’ll need to maintain a learner mindset. That means seeking out information about new technologies, new ways of thinking, and new trends in financial analysis.


You may assume that the most important career skills in 2020 are all technical, but that’s not the case. Technology has limited the amount of people required to complete repetitive, data heavy tasks. Where people now add some of the most value is in the soft skills they offer, which computers cannot come close to competing with.

Of all of the soft skills, leadership is easily one of the most valuable to have. Leadership requires bringing out the best in a team, collaboration, emotional intelligence, and cultural intelligence. No matter how the world changes, companies will always need people who have these skills. In fact, the increased use of machines will create more positions that involve decision-making and leadership. Even those in entry level positions should consider leadership an important skill to have.

Critical Thinking

Information is everywhere. And technology is constantly providing new tools and channels for gathering and disseminating information. With so much information, it has become difficult to wade through and pick out what’s truly valuable. This is where critical thinking comes in.

The value in completing the same rote tasks day in and day out is no longer as valuable to companies. Instead, what they need is people who can evaluate information in order to discern whether the information is reliable, and if it is, how it should be used. The critical thinking skills required to judge the value of information is a key skill to have in today’s jobs.

 Finance and Career Skills

Finance can be a competitive field. Whether you’re looking to begin a career in finance, or you already work in finance and are looking to make your way up the ladder, you’ll need to stand out. The best way to do this is by showing employers that you have the career skills they’re looking for in this evolving industry.

Related Course: Investment Banking Certificate (IBC)

The Investment Banking Certificate (IBC) is a professional certification in four core disciplines in business and finance given by the New York Institute of Finance (NYIF). It is a blended, intensive 12-week program comprising digital distance learning and live courses that can be taken virtually anywhere around the world. IBC offers training for individuals who want to make a career transition to investment banking or who need to hone their finance and business management skill set. The skills developed or enhanced during the program are intended to produce competent individual in the areas of general management, finance, financial statement analysis, and quantitative techniques with a specialization in financial markets and investment analysis.

About The New York Institute of Finance

 The New York Institute of Finance (NYIF) is a global leader in professional training for financial services and related industries. NYIF courses cover everything from investment banking, asset pricing, insurance and market structure to financial modeling, treasury operations, and accounting. The New York Institute of Finance has a faculty of industry leaders and offers a range of program delivery options, including self-study, online courses, and in-person classes. Founded by the New York Stock Exchange in 1922, NYIF has trained over 250,000 professionals online and in-class, in over 120 countries.

See all of NYIF’s training and qualifications here.