2015 Q4 has been the reign of luxury/retail finance- junior staff positions, FP and A managers, senior controllers, heads of finance- it’s all very active with new positions continuing to emerge, even in December.
But what does a finance career within this industry really look like?
1- Passion for the brand
One of the most essential elements to working within luxury companies is to have some interest in the world of fashion, as well as some interest in the brand itself. This doesn’t mean that every accountant needs to read “Vogue” and attend fashion shows on the weekend. Instead, they should have enough interest in the business to hold a conversation with colleagues or friends. Typically most who work for fashion focused companies do have some genuine interest in fashion, so to be totally disinterested might mean it is difficult to get along well with colleagues and blend into the company culture.
2- Career path
A finance career with a luxury or retail focus has many opportunities available. First, for more senior luxury finance positions, employers often prioritize candidates that do have solid luxury experience. These steadfast luxury specialists are few and far between, so this would give an edge during the interview process.
Also, for those not so set on luxury for life, other exciting industries such as consumer goods companies, health care and some tech firms like luxury profiles. Big brand names paired with store and inventory finance experience makes for an attractive candidate.
3- Pace of work
Depending on the specific brand or level you work at, you can determine the pace of work as well as the variety to it. Very high-end luxury brands tend to be quite stable year-on-year, and very predictable when it comes to revenue and sales. Overtime is still required for most, but it is easier to predict what the road ahead will bring.
“Fast fashion”, or more casual, accessible brands are often more fast-paced, higher-volume and more subject to changes in their consumer base. This can lead to more intense highs and lows, and can be a more engaging work environment for some, while more stressful for others.
One of the benefits of established luxury brands is an overall strong sense of stability within the business. Compared to a joint venture or new start-up, these brands have deep roots in the Japanese consumer base and are not going anywhere anytime soon. Additionally, Japan is the number 1 or number 2 market for many of the top brands, meaning that senior finance leaders from the Japan office will have a stronger impact than they might in other industries.
Traditionally salary levels within luxury and fashion brands tend to run lower than in other industries. This can be attributed to the fact that many employees prioritize working for a specific brand over working for a specific salary amount. Of course, this is not the case for everyone or every brand, but the industry does trend a bit low.
However, 2015 has shown very competitive roles, industry aside. Perhaps this is a sign this matter of salary is beginning to shift as Japan remains a critical consumer base for this industry.