The idea of a “job for life” has gone the same way as the dodo, the fax machine, and an honourable politician – it’s just a concept that belongs to a bygone era. In this fast-moving digital world, more workers than ever are finding that they are having to re-skill and switch careers multiple times in their lives. Whilst this can be stressful and disconcerting, it can also be exciting and provide fresh opportunities like a career in fin-tech. One fintech career option is to seek a role as a currency specialist, or currency trader, at a currency brokerage helping both individuals and businesses maximise their currency exchanges and international money transfers. Let’s take a look at what this exciting and versatile career looks like.
Some Notable Employers
This is a fast-growing sector and new start-ups are emerging all the time. Wise (formerly Transferwise) was only established a decade ago but now employs over 2600 staff in 17 offices around the world. Wise is currently positioning itself as a challenger bank intending to rival the traditional banking hegemony so a job with a firm like this could provide almost endless opportunities for the right candidate.
Is a career in currency brokering for you? Let’s help you find out by looking at 20 typical job interview questions from currency broker firms.
1. Which Other Currency Brokers Do You Know Of?
If the interviewer asks the question, they want to know how well you know the sector. When answering, don’t just reel off a list of names but also try to add some context.
Well, I know that challenger banks like Wise, Monzo, and Revolut all started out in the currency brokerage sector and have since diversified into other areas. Some more transitional currency brokers I know of are TorFX who specialise in medium-sized and B2B transfers and of course, XE who’s rates are widely used and need no introduction!
2. Do You Understand How A Currency Brokerage Operates And Which Roles Are There?
If the interviewer asks the question they are looking for how much you know about the sector. You don’t need to lie or exaggerate your knowledge as the knowledge level they are looking for will depend on the role you are applying for.
I understand the principles of how a currency broker works. They scour the forex markets, monitor movements in exchange rates, and look for the optimal times to buy and sell. In terms of delivering for customers, the aim is to help the customer save some money whilst also making some profit.
Some roles I know of are dealer, salesperson, UX designer, and analyst.
3. Are You a People’s Person?
If the interviewer asks the question they are trying to decide if you are right for the role you have applied for. Answer honestly here as there is no right or wrong answer. If you are applying for a sales role, then people skills are necessary but if you want to be an analyst, they are less important.
Whilst I do enjoy working with people, my real passion is analytics. However, I value personal relationships and In my previous roles, I have always bonded well with my teammates and been able to help customers.
4. Are You Persuasive?
If the interviewer asks the question they are not looking for a yes or no answer but are testing you! Can you persuade them that you are persuasive?
Well at the risk of sounding cheeky I persuaded you to give me this interview! The way I view persuasiveness is that it is a case of identifying what somebody wants, and trying to work out how you can best deliver it for them. Another key aspect of persuasiveness is nothing when to back off as people do not respond well to pushiness.
5. Do You Have a Financial Background?
If the interviewer asks the question they simply want to know your background. Again, do not lie. Depending on the role you are doing, you may not need much of a specialized background as training will be provided. Concentrate on what you do know about finance.
Although I have never worked in financial services before, I consider myself financially literate. I have been managing my own money since I was very young. Every time my family goes on holiday I am shopping around for the best exchange rates and currency deals rather than just changing money at the airport which is not cost-effective.
6. Do You Follow The Financial News?
If the interviewer asks the question it is important to be truthful. Whilst they do want to see that you are interested in the sector, don’t exaggerate your knowledge as they may follow up with topical questions you will then fail to answer.
My belief is that the financial markets affect every one of us in some way so it is important you stay abreast of developments in the financial news. I personally read the Financial Times and Forbes online when I have the chance and am especially interested in fin-tech news. For example, I see that Currencies Direct has recently rebranded itself as Lumon Pay – my hunch is that they are preparing themselves to diversify the services they offer.
7. Do You Know Why Currency Exchange Rates Move?
If the interviewer asks the question they are looking to see if you have a basic grasp of money markets. It is important that you demonstrate at least some understanding depending on the exact role you are applying for.
Currency Exchange rates are very complex and I am not sure anybody can claim to fully understand them! However, I know that they move depending on how much of a given currency is bought and sold at any time. I also know that the political and economic situation of a country affects its exchange rate as we saw with the US/China tariff wars.
8. Do You Know Who Your Potential Customer Is?
If the interviewer asks the question they want to know how well you understand their particular business. Different currency brokers cater to different customer bases so the answer will vary depending on which company you are interested in.
At some point, pretty much everybody needs to either change currency such as for going on holiday or to send money abroad such as for business. Firms like Wise tend to cater to ex-pats and migrant workers sending the smallest sums of money to relatives at home. Whereas companies like TorFx help SMEs and corporate businesses who need large amounts of currency for foreign payrolls.
9. What Do You Think Is The Optimal Cost Structure?
If the interviewer asks the question they are not looking for exact figures as you are not able to provide these. Rather they want to see if you understand the balance between providing value to the customer and making a profit for the broker.
Of course, this can be a delicate balance to strike. If a broker offers too low a cost then they can actually lose money – this is on account of expenses and hedges to place for holding those amounts of money and constantly exchanging it. For this reason, some firms have a minimum exchange amount, and ones with no minimum, tend to charge higher fees to make it worth their while.
10. How Do Currency Brokers Work?
If the interviewer asks the question they are really going back to basics to check your understanding but are also testing how well you would articulate this to a potential customer.
A currency broker buys and sells currencies directly for customers and transfers the money internationally. They can help individuals or businesses get the best possible deal on changing currencies and making international bank transfers.
11. How Come Some International Payments Don’t Go Through SWIFT?
If the interviewer asks the question they are testing your detailed knowledge of the industry. This is a niche question and only somebody with experience will know the answer.
SWIFT is the payment transfer system used by banks to move money between themselves. As currency brokers often operate by bypassing the banks altogether, then there is no need for the money to move via SWIFT.
12. Why Are You Interested In This Role?
If the interviewer asks you this question, they expect you to tell them why you want to work for them.
I believe that the fintech sector has a very bright future – joining it will provide the opportunity to work at the cutting edge of both technology and finance and may provide an opportunity for career advancement. X has shown itself to be an ambitious firm and I believe my personal values are aligned with theirs.
13. How Do You Stay Motivated In Your Work?
If the interviewer asks you this question, they want to know how you handle motivation. It is a good idea to tell them about a tough time when you managed to stay motivated.
I am a self-starter and am always pushing myself. I stay motivated by setting goals and measuring out steps to achieve them. For example, I set myself the challenge of training for a marathon within 6 months – it was very tough but I stayed motivated by finding a partner and we helped one another stay focused and by setting gradual goals rather than expecting too much at once.
14. Why Do You Feel You Are Most Suited For This Role?
If the interviewer asks you this question, they want to know why you think you are the best candidate for this role. Talk about your general interest in the role, your unique experience, and the skills that differentiate you from any other candidate.
I am fascinated by fin-tech and feel driven to work in this sector. As I mentioned, I have always been interested in exchange rates and whenever I go on holiday I always ensure me and my companions get the best deals – over the years I have saved hundreds if not thousands of dollars.
15. What Do You Think The Biggest Challenges In This Role Are?
If the interviewer asks you this question they are testing your knowledge of the industry as well as your risk assessment and ability to foresee problems. Talk about both day-to-day challenges in the role as well as things that may affect the industry.
I think the immediate challenge will be in beating the competition – the currency broker and money transfer sector is competitive after all. I also expect that at some point global events will greatly impact the forex markets and there will be winners and losers from this.
16. What Are The Main Global Currencies Right Now?
If the interviewer asks you this question, they are making sure you know the basics of the industry and stay abreast of the news.
Of course, the USD remains the main global currency although it is clear that China is seeking to challenge this and the Yuan is increasingly powerful. The Euro and GBP have also both proven themselves as stable strong currencies despite the Brexit effect.
17. Why Should Customers Use A Currency Broker Instead Of A Bank?
If the interviewer asks you this question, they are checking that you understand the difference between banks and brokers and also testing how you could “sell” their services to a potential customer. The key is to hit the main points without going into too much detail.
Whenever you make a money transfer through the bank, they will use the exchange rate that benefits them rather than the customer. Also, both the sending bank and recipient bank will also charge a fee and if they need to go through a 3rd party bank, that bank will also charge a fee. Currency Brokers offer better rates and more transparent, fixed fees.
18. What Do You Know About Financial Services Regulation?
If the interviewer asks you this question, they are testing your knowledge of the industry. Regulation is a very serious matter and all financial service firms have to make sure they comply with the regulation. You don’t need to go into detail but just demonstrate awareness.
I know that each country has its own financial service regulator and that to do business in that country, we need to comply with any and all regulations. Regulators can impose severe penalties or even remove trading licenses for any firm that is not compliant. I also understand that cross border fin-tech companies have caused regulators to have a bit of a rethink.
19. Share With Us Your Greatest Achievements
If the interviewer asks you this question, they want to know a little bit about you. Often, they are not looking for gold medals but really, just want to know what you value. You can answer from both your personal or professional life or both.
In my last role, I was awarded the departmental customer service award for 2021 in my first year on the job! I also managed to achieve this whilst training for a marathon in my spare time!
20. How Would Your Previous Colleagues Describe You?
The interviewer wants to know your relationship with your colleagues and how well you get on with them. They are also testing your honesty and modesty!. Talk about the nice things your boss would say about you but be humble.
I had a great relationship with my previous team. I like to think they would describe me as a conscientious, hardworking colleague who was good to be around and who will be missed – I will certainly miss them!