What Career Options Do You Have in Finance with a Master’s Degree?

Read about the range of career opportunities you’ll find with a master’s degree in finance.

hero-what-career-options-do-you-have-in-financeA tremendous range of opportunities for those who desire a career in finance can be found in the private, public and non-profit sectors.

Most people in the financial services industry are employed in such areas as commercial banking, corporate finance, financial planning, investment banking, money managing, insurance and real estate.

Also, almost every firm, government agency and organization have financial managers who oversee the preparation of financial reports, strive to reduce risk, direct investment activities and implement cash management strategies.

Finance Career Options

  • Commercial Banking: A career in commercial banking offers opportunities in financial management, accountancy and auditing, securities, commodities and financial services sales, as well as in financial and credit analysis.
  • Corporate Finance: Employees working in corporate finance find the money to run the business, grow the business, make acquisitions, plan for it’s financial future and manage any cash on hand.
  • Financial Planning: Financial planners help individuals plan their financial futures.
  • Insurance: Jobs in insurance involve helping individuals and business manage risk to protect themselves from catastrophic losses and to anticipate potential risk problems. A variety of areas in insurance include work as an underwriter, a sales representative, an asset manager or an actuary.
  • Investment Banking: Investment bankers help companies and governments issue securities, help investors purchase securities, manage financial assets, trade securities and provide financial advice.
  • Money Management: Money managers hold stocks and bonds for institutional clients.
  • Real Estate: In the real estate fields, many are employed in such areas as title insurance, construction, mortgage banking, property management, real estate appraisals, brokerage and leasing, and real estate development.

Master’s vs. MBA

The basic difference between these two options is that a master’s in finance is a highly specialized degree that will allow you to focus almost exclusively on issues related to finance. In contrast, an MBA program will allow you to develop a general set of management skills in addition to specific finance knowledge.

There are advantages to each:

  • A master’s program will enable you to delve into finance issues in greater depth
  • An MBA program will allow you to spend your first year developing a set of skills that can be transferred to other areas
  • Both a master’s degree and an MBA concentration will prepare you to hold management positions within the field of finance
  • An MBA degree may also qualify you to hold management positions in other fields, should you become interested in a different career

What You’ll Study

Coursework generally covers these subjects:

  • Statistics
  • Economics
  • Accounting policies and procedures
  • Corporate budgeting
  • Financial analysis methods

Advanced courses in options pricing or bond valuation and knowledge of risk management are often covered. Courses in investments, taxes, estate planning and risk management also are helpful.

Finance Skill Set

Financial professionals must be detail-oriented, highly motivated researchers and knowledgeable about U.S. and international tax laws, economics and money markets. In addition to self-confidence, maturity and the ability to work independently, candidates for financial industry positions need a broad range of skills including:

  • Excellent mathematical and computer skills
  • Excellent analytic and problem solving skills
  • Excellent oral and written communication skills
  • Strong interpersonal skills

Licensing and Certification

A license is not required to work as a personal financial advisor, but advisors who sell stocks, bonds, mutual funds, insurance or real estate may need licenses to perform these additional services.

Certification, although not required for financial analysts or personal financial advisors to practice, can enhance professional standing and is strongly recommended by many financial companies. Financial analysts may receive the title Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) and personal financial advisors may obtain a Certified Financial Planner (CFP) or Chartered Financial Consultant (ChFC) designation. Both titles demonstrate to potential customers that a planner has extensive training and competency in the area of financial planning.

Career Paths

The financial field offers many possibilities to MBAs, but the most sought after jobs are within corporate finance, investment banking and securities firms. Finance MBAs often go into the corporate world as Financial Analysts or Investment Banking Associates. Other careers for MBAs are in asset management, equities research and private client services.

Many MBAs become management consultants with expertise in cash management, restructuring and workouts, emerging markets or strategy. MBAs on the corporate side may aspire to careers that lead to corporate treasury, and ultimately the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) role in the corporation.

Financial analysts may advance by becoming portfolio managers or financial managers, directing the investment policies of their companies or those of clients. Personal financial advisors who work in firms also may move into managerial positions, but most advisors advance by accumulating clients and managing more assets.

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