Henry Steele
Henry Steele
Managing Editor

The following article provides information about the most important aspects of a finance career. You will learn what finance professionals do, where they are employed, job duties, how to become one, popular career choices, and more.

What We Do

Over the last several decades, the financial services sector of the economy has increased from 2.5% to 8.5% of national GDP. Today, financial professionals or financial managers are responsible for handling the financial health of organizations and individuals. Finance professionals focus largely on the production of financial reports, directing critical investment activities and devising effective, innovative strategies to enhance the long term financial health of an organization.

The role of the financial professional in the modern business world is evolving as advances in technology have greatly reduced the time that is required to generate financial data reports. Many financial professionals today in management are now doing more rigorous financial data analysis, as they offer senior level managers more specialized advice on how to increase profits and reduce waste.

Job Duties

Most finance professionals do some or all of the following:

  • Prepare complex financial documents, personal financial statements, business activity statements, and financial forecasts
  • Monitor critical financial details to make sure that all legal and regulatory requirements are followed
  • Oversee employees who are responsible for financial budgeting and reporting
  • Review financial reports for companies and look for ways to cut costs
  • Perform market trend analyses to increase profits and to look for ways businesses can expand
  • Assist management and individuals to make important financial investment decisions

There are many types of finance managers today; the type that you will be often depends upon your career goals and the size and scope of the organization.

Common types of financial managers include chief financial officers, controllers, credit managers, cash managers, risk managers, treasurers, and insurance managers.

Where We Work

Financial professionals can work in many types of business environments. For financial managers, we most commonly work in these areas below:

  • Finance and insurance companies: 29%
  • Management of companies and enterprises: 12%
  • Professional and technical services: 11%
  • Manufacturing: 8%
  • Government: 8%

Financial professionals will not always be working just in New York, Chicago and Los Angeles today, either. According to Forbes magazine, there are many cities across America today that are adding more financial sector jobs than some of the biggest US cities.

While New York City will always be a major finance capital of the globe, other cities with a lower cost of living and higher economic growth are attracting more finance and finance related firms. In fact, since 2007, financial sector employment in New York City actually declined by at least 5%.

Some of the top cities in America seeing rapid growth in finance jobs are:

  • Richmond, Virginia
  • Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
  • Fort Worth, Texas
  • San Antonio, Texas
  • Jacksonville, Florida
  • Dallas, Texas
  • Northern Virginia
  • Louis, Missouri

How to Become

To work in the finance sector, you will need to have at least a bachelor’s degree in finance or business. To become a finance or financial manager, you will need to have several years of business experience in a financial, business or accounting related field.

To enjoy more opportunities in finance, it is recommended that you get your MBA in finance or accounting. Or, you can earn a Master of Science in Finance or Accounting.

Employment/Salaries

Employment in the financial sector generally is going to increase by 8% by 2024, which is about as fast as average when weighed against other fields. In total, the finance field will add approximately 632,000 new jobs in the time period.

It seems that a more robust regulatory environment is driving demand for more finance professionals, accountants and auditors. Also, the economy is generally growing faster in the US. This is causing a business expansion which leads to more companies starting, and the growth of existing companies. These trends lead to more finance professionals being hired.

The median wage for all finance professionals in 2015 was $65,710. Finance professionals in some areas will earn a higher salary, especially if they have a graduate education.

Career Paths

There are many different career paths for professionals who want a finance career. Consider these popular finance career options:

  • Financial analyst: You will offer financial and business advice to companies that must make vital investment decisions. Financial analysts need to properly assess the overall performance of bonds, stocks and many other investments. A financial analyst can work either as a sell side or a buy side analyst. Sell side analysts provide advice to financial sales staff, while buy side analysts provides investment strategies for companies that need to invest.
  • Financial examiner: Ensure full regulatory and legal compliance involving financial institutions and any financial transactions that occur. You will handle the review of balance sheets, evaluate loan risk and assess how effectively banks are managing their assets. These finance professionals usually work in risk scoping or in consumer compliance.
  • Financial manager: They answer for the overall financial health of a company. The are largely active in managing the production of financial reports, providing effective investment advice, and forming new strategies to enhance the financial health of a company. Financial managers must do specific tasks that are in their given industry or organization. Government financial managers need to be highly skilled in budgeting and government appropriations, for example.
  • Personal financial advisor: Offer advice to individuals on investments, mortgages, insurance, college savings plans, planning on retirement, and overall help in managing finances. You will need to be current and knowledgeable on stocks, bonds and real estate investments, and also insurance and tax laws.

Education Requirements

Most finance professionals earn a bachelor’s degree in business, finance or accounting. It is strongly advised to have courses in finance, mathematics, investments, estate planning and risk management.

To work at a mid or senior level finance position, you should plan to earn your master’s degree in finance or accounting. Or, you can earn your master of business administration with a concentration in finance or accounting. Earning an MBA will provide you with a more rounded business management education. This may be beneficial if you want to work more generally in business management with a good knowledge of finance.

But if you want to work exclusively in finance, a master’s in finance would probably be ideal.

Specializations

There are several types of finance that you should understand so that you can make the best career choice. The major areas of the business finance field are listed below. Which type of finance professional you want to be hinges upon in which of these areas you want to work the most:

  • Corporate finance: Refers to the actions that a company undertakes when it makes finance decisions. Specific areas of corporate finance where you can work are budgeting, managing capital, financial analysis, and development of financial statements.
  • Investments: Companies and individuals invest in various financial investments, and need financial professionals to advise them.
  • Financial institutions and markets: Stock and bond markets, money and capital markets, as well as the primary and secondary markets.

Training and Certifications

There are many certifications that you can earn in the field of finance. Which you may want to earn depends upon the area of finance in which you work:

  • Chartered Financial Analyst or CFA: This is one of the most popular certifications in finance; you will have expertise in investment banking and analysis, economics, management of portfolios, and financial ethics. A good choice for financial analysts, bank managers, financial consultants.
  • Financial Risk Manager or FRM: Risk management today is critical in finance as the US government is watching much more closely that finance and lending companies are engaging in ethical and smart business practices. A great choice for financial advisors, financial analysts, credit managers, and fund managers.
  • Certified Financial Planner or CFP: A highly popular choice for financial advisors and planners. Provides you with expertise in retirement, estate and insurance planning. This certification mandates that you have a bachelor’s degree, complete three years of related work experience, pass a certification examination, and you must also adhere to a strict code of ethics. Covers financial planning processes, risk management, taxes and retirement, and debt management.
  • Financial Modeling Certification: Useful for a financial professional to be able to expertly construct effective models to represent financial accounts and investment analyses. Financial modeling is very useful to deliver accurate investment and business forecasts for companies. Excellent certification for investment bankers, financial managers and financial advisors.
  • Certified Credit Professional or CCP: Granted by the Credit Institute of Canada that ensure that credit management professionals have exemplary levels of training. Very important credential for any finance professional who is working in credit management.

References

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