Computer Software Overview: For most career paths within financial services, the basic computer software that you need to know to hit the ground running are these Microsoft applications for desktop and laptop PCs:
The first 4 programs on this list are included in the computer software package known as Microsoft Office.
Excel: This is the computer software that powers most of the desktop number crunching in the financial services industry. You should be fully conversant in using this spreadsheet program for:
- Small to moderate databases
- Computation and modeling
- Charts, graphs and tables
Word: This is the word processing computer software that nearly everyone in the financial services industry uses for writing memos and papers. You would do well to gain expertise in:
- Typefaces and formatting
- Inserting tables, charts and graphs
PowerPoint: This is the most popular computer software in the corporate world for creating presentations, both in hard copy and for projection. You should be able to:
- Create slides with both text and graphics
- Import text and graphics from Excel and Word
- Run a presentation from a laptop onto a screen or into a projector
Outlook: This is Microsoft’s computer software for e-mail management, which also includes a calendar and reminder function. It is the most common user interface to corporate e-mail systems.
Access: This computer software is a database management program. It is very useful for larger databases that are unwieldy for Excel, and knowledge of Access will be very helpful in positions that require large-scale data analysis.
Vista: Microsoft Vista, the new operating system that replaces earlier releases of Microsoft Windows, has new versions of all the aforementioned computer software. Widespread adoption within the corporate world is being impeded by several factors:
- Expense of licensing and installing the new computer software
- Resistance from users who are satisfied with the old applications and are too busy to learn the new
Accordingly, be mindful that the installed base of PCs in most financial services firms probably is running the classic Excel, Word, PowerPoint, Outlook and Access. Conversion to Vista may be eventual, but not just yet. Thus, familiarity with both the "classic" and Vista versions of this computer software is highly desirable.