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Opportunities Wide Open in Financial Services

October 26, 1986|JEFF ROWE | Jeff Rowe, a free-lance writer, is a frequent contributor to The Times' Orange County Business section. and

For this year and beyond, financial services professionals predict wide-open job opportunities in accounting, banking, brokerages and insurance.

Part of the expected growth is a result of the deregulation of the financial industry, which has allowed banks to sell stocks, savings and loans to develop real estate and insurance companies to open savings banks. But experts in those industries also say they anticipate vigorous growth because of general economic expansion.

"There will be a substantial number of jobs available in those fields for the right people," said Chuck Sundberg, director of the placement and career center at UCLA.

Management Recruiters International, a Cleveland personnel concern, said its recent surveys indicate that hiring projections are up strongly for financial services.

According to "The New American Boom," a report recently published by the Kiplinger Washington Letter, "there will be a lot more banks and other kinds of financial houses" between now and 2000.

In the 330-page book, the business forecasting publisher predicts that financial services will be a high-growth field over the next couple of decades.

Few career fields have changed as much as banking in recent years, and the continuing diversification and expansion of the industry is creating a range of opportunities, industry officials say.

"It's wide open," said Jim Kendall, a spokesman for the 3,400-member U.S. League of Savings Institutions. Because thrifts are getting into such new areas as commercial lending, the industry should be "an exciting place to work and one where someone with talent probably can move up pretty quickly," he said.

To keep pace with its expansion into insurance underwriting, consumer lending and the financing of leased equipment, "we need people with all kinds of skills," said a spokeswoman for Beverly Hills-based Great Western Financial Corp.

Like others in the financial services business, Great Western is responding to the intense competition in the banking industry by increasing emphasis on hiring people skilled in customer service.

Those new workers "will have to be able to explain an increasingly complex variety of financial services," explained Kirk Hallahan, a spokesman for the California League of Savings Institutions. Chiefly because of population growth, Hallahan reckons that California will be one of the most competitive and fastest-growing markets for financial services.

Established banks may not share in the industry growth, however. Citing the tougher and more competitive industry, Los Angeles-based Security Pacific National Bank says hiring this year will be flat. Most entry-level jobs at Security Pacific are in the branches, and those hired will be more well-rounded in their skills, people who not only have a knowledge of finance and computers but also will be able to deal skillfully with co-workers and customers.

"We need someone who can punt, pass and kick," said Irv Margol, executive vice president of the bank's management services group.


Although their growth will be driven by an expanding array of services, securities brokerages also are expected to become more customer-oriented in their approach. "We want people who can deal better with the public," said Barbara Henderson, vice president of human resources at Bateman Eichler, Hill Richards Inc. a major Los Angeles brokerage.

Although the increased complexity of a brokerage's services means the knowledge required is expanding, academic preparation is not all that Henderson looks for in an applicant. "College graduates without work experience are at a real disadvantage," she said. And while the entry-level, back-office accounting and support tasks may lack the visibility and prestige of the trading floor, Henderson said she has seen "many a person literally not see the possibilities of the job they are in. Sometimes you have to grit your teeth and learn something."

When it comes to seeking out potential employers, Henderson advises making personal contacts rather than flooding the mail with resumes--no matter how carefully crafted. "There are too many professionally done resumes that do not resemble the person attached to them," she said.

For job seekers who can offer a combination of academic training and part-time or summer work experience, there will be "substantial growth" and "more diversity" in the brokerage industry, Henderson said.


Expansion and the normal high turnover are expected to create broad opportunities in the insurance industry, particularly for agents, the normal entryway to the business.

"Five years from now, 50% of our production will come from people we haven't met yet," said Ralph E. Brown, manager of Pacific Mutual Life Insurance Co.'s Newport Center agency.

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