If you want to save the world work in the finance sector

Annual salaries in the finance sector easily start at R300 000 per year (RubinowaDama / Shutterstock.com)

Not many people know that salaries in the finance sector offer the best of both world for those who want to earn enough money to give back.

If you are working for a bank, insurance company or accounting firm in South Africa, you may someday go through a mid-career ethical crisis before switching to something more fulfilling… It happens all the time.

The financial sector in South Africa offers some of the highest salaries, and it should be attracting those who are serious about doing good in the world. Someone who donates a large portion of their income to a charity, rather than working directly for one, might feel less involved in their good deeds only because they haven’t dedicated every hour of their day to charity, even if they end up making a bigger difference. The intentions of people who work for charities may be good, but working in the financial sector gives you an opportunity to make a difference in another way.

Think about the following…

Not all charities do the same amount of good

Charities vary enormously in the amount of good they do with the money they receive. For example, it costs about R400 000 to train and provide a guide dog for one person, but it costs less than R1 000 to cure one person of sight-destroying trachoma in the developing world. For the cost of improving the life of one person with blindness, you can cure 400 people of it.

If you donate money to a charity rather than work for one, you can change your donations as often as you like. And you can always ensure that your donations go to the most effective charities in the world.

Discrepancy in earnings

Annual salaries in the finance sector easily start at R300 000 per year and grow to over R2 000 000 per year if you do well. This means your average salary is likely to sit somewhere in between. A good career in a non-profit starts at roughly R200 000 per year and doesn’t typically exceed R500 000 per year, even for executive directors. If you were to enter the finance sector and donate 50% of your lifetime earnings, you could pay for two or more non-profit workers, while still living on twice the amount of money you otherwise would have.

Take a look at some important examples from the professions in the financial sector where good data on salaries is available (in ascending order):

  • If you were a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA), your average salary is realistically going to be around R370 000 per year.
  • If you were a member of The South African Institute of Chartered Accountants (SAICA), your average salary is realistically going to be around R450 000 per year.
  • If you were a member of the Actuarial Society of South Africa, your average salary is realistically going to be around R620 000 per year.
  • If you were to work as a Financial Advisor at Liberty, your average salary would approximately be R250 000 per year.
  • The reality is you don’t have to be a billionaire before you are in a position of saving hundreds of lives. In fact, just consider how much good R10 000 can do:

  • Provide 265 bed nets to protect those living in malaria-stricken areas from infected mosquitoes, and protect 400 people from malaria for 3-4 years, on average and save 2 lives.
  • Restore the eyesight of 13 people with curable blindness who cannot afford surgery.
  • Provide an average of 7 patients with nursing care.
  • So next time you search for jobs in finance, consider companies that will give you the opportunity to give back some of your earnings. To get you started, explore all the latest jobs in the financial sector

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    Pieter du Toit is a Fellow of the Actuarial Society of South Africa and a member of a group of qualified and student actuaries who write a column on topics that serve the public interest.