Introduction

My name is Minh Le, and I am originally from Vietnam. I came to the United States back in 2011 for a high school exchange program in Maine. After that, I moved to Salt Lake City in 2011 to pursue a business degree in business at the University of Utah. When I first started at the university, I wasn’t quite sure which business major I wanted to choose. During my freshman year, I got involved in the Business Scholars program where I spent a year exploring different business majors like finance, accounting, marketing, and business management. The analytical aspect and long-term strategic thinking required in finance caught my attention. While studying, I had the chance to intern at the University Growth Fund (UGF), a student-run venture fund in Salt Lake City. During this internship, not only did I learn about how a venture fund operates but also had the chance to meet several startup founders. It was fascinating asking them questions about their companies and conducting analyses to provide investment recommendations. In addition to UGF, I also interned at an insurance and financial services firm named Beneficial Financial Group, a subsidiary of Deseret Management Corporation. In this internship, I worked on analyzing a portfolio of commercial papers and mortgage-backed securities portfolio held by the insurance firm. After graduating from the University of Utah, I joined a financial technology startup based in Salt Lake City. I’ve been with the firm since graduation and have had the opportunity to work in Singapore and Vietnam. I have returned to Salt Lake City as the Managing Director of the Research and Due Diligence Team. In this role, I am responsible for conducting research and analysis on private securities offerings within real estate and pre-IPO sectors. In this article, I will give an overview of different career paths within finance and some of the necessary skills that employers typically look for.

Finance

career options

1
Investment Banking
2
Equity Research
3
Sales and Trading
4
Portfolio Manager
5
Private Equity
6
Venture Capital

Finance

 skills

What are the main hard skills you use on a daily basis in your current job?

1
Financial modelling skill

In terms of modelling, I frequently use MS Excel regularly in projects and assignments within my company. These projects could range from conducting analysis on a company’s financials to calculating returns for a clients’ portfolios using different tax methodologies. It is generally expected that individuals working in the financial services industry possess a proficiency in Excel. I obtained an understanding of MS Excel during my time at university through two financial modeling courses where I not only learned the core concepts but also put them into practice through diverse project work.

2
Financial accounting

Understanding accounting is crucial, for evaluating the well-being of a company whether it’s the organization you work for, your own business, or a potential investment. Financial statements serve as the foundation for assessing a company’s health making them an essential tool in the finance industry. From my perspective, financial accounting can be considered as the language that enables communication in finance. As someone majoring in business, it is common for universities to require taking two to three accounting classes. To apply what you learn from these classes, you can access companies’ annual or quarterly reports on Edgar. When I encounter line items on the financial statements that I don’t understand, I usually refer to Investopedia for definitions and clarification.

3
Python

Microsoft Excel is undoubtedly a useful tool for data analysis. However, when confronted with large amounts of data, performing analyses on Excel can become cumbersome and time-consuming. If you are familiar with Python programming, you can swiftly execute analyses on large datasets with just a few lines of code, and the time for the program to run the data analyses could take less than a second to complete.

4

5

What are the main soft skills you use on a daily basis in your current job?

1
Communication skills

These include both verbal and written communications. You should be able to clearly convey complex financial information and complex and draft clear and concise reports, emails, and other documents. The only way to get better at verbal and written communications is to put in the time and practice.

2
Attention to detail

Working in the financial industry means that you will be working with numbers and data in some shapes or forms. Ensuring precision when examining financial data is crucial. You should actively try to improve this skill whenever you can. Some time it can be tempting to get things done quickly, but you should make it a habit to go back and double or even triple check your analysis.


3
Teamwork and collaboration

You will be almost all the time working with somebody else when going into your full-time employment. The ability to work effectively with diverse teams on different projects is highly valued by employers. In your university years, you will have plenty of opportunities to work in a team. There will be times when it’s challenging to work in a team because somebody doesn’t pull their weights or someone does not agree with your view. In those times, I know it is tempting to throw in towel and say that I am going to ignore all these issues and do everything on my own.

4

5

Minh

’s personal path

Tell us about your personal journey in

Finance

:

My journey in searching for a job, has been quite challenging. Being an international student, I faced the hurdle of employers automatically excluding candidates who would require a work visa. I filled out more than 50 applications ranging from large banks and corporations to small companies/startups but only received five or six interview invitations. There were instances when I felt optimistic because I made it to the final round interview after going through three or more rounds of interviews. Unfortunately, I ended up getting rejected in all of them. It was truly disheartening to invest time in interview preparation and yet not receive any offers. Nonetheless I persevered by attending more networking events in search of opportunities. A stroke of luck came my way during a Finance Club event when a classmate asked me about my job search progress. Upon learning that I hadn't secured a job with two months left until graduation she mentioned that her cousin knew someone working at a startup in Salt Lake City which happened to be hiring for a financial analyst position. She referred me to the company. After completing three rounds of interviews, they were willing to hire me despite my visa status. Since graduating from university in 2015, I have been working at this company. The key takeaway here is that sometimes the job search doesn't go as planned. It's highly probable that you'll encounter rejections along the way. However, it's crucial to use those rejections as learning opportunities. Each rejection gives you a chance to enhance your interview skills or better articulate your story during interviews. I believe it's advisable to try to attend as many networking events as possible. These events can provide valuable insights into a role. They could also potentially lead you to a job that aligns well with your aspirations.

What would you tell your younger you regarding building your current career?

If I could go back and give advice to myself, I would encourage myself to have faith in my abilities. When I first started my full-time job, there were moments when I lacked confidence especially when someone was more qualified or more experienced. However, after having worked in my position for over seven years, I've come to realize that experienced individuals are not always right. If you've conducted research and have data to support your conclusions it's important to trust in your analysis and be confident in it.

Final thoughts & tips

As a university student, it's important to be willing to take risks and step outside of your comfort zone. The years spent in university offer an opportunity to make mistakes, even significant ones. There will undoubtedly be challenges and unexpected events, along the way. It’s crucial to embrace them and learn from each experience. Remember that everyone’s career journey is different, and although it may be tempting to compare yourself to others it's more beneficial to focus on your own growth and acquiring knowledge.

Minh Le

Minh Le

Finance
Build Fellow
Open Avenues Foundation
Open Avenues Foundation

Minh Le is a Finance Fellow at Open Avenues Foundation, where he works with students leading projects in Finance and Asset Management.

Minh Le is a Managing Director at North Capital Private Securities where he works on different aspects in the private securities industry, including research, due diligence, secondary trading, and custodial services. Minh Le has seven years of experience working in the private securities space.

Prior to working at North Capital, Minh was a Venture Capital Associate at University Growth Fund, a student-run venture fund based in Salt Lake City, Utah, and an Investment Intern at Deseret Management Corporation, a Utah insurance company.

He holds a degree in Finance.

A fun fact about Minh: he enjoys running and cooking Vietnamese foods.

More like this