One of the most important decisions you’ll make in the course of pursuing your MBA is choosing a specialization. The typical 2-year MBA curriculum gives students a solid foundation in the subjects of accounting, economics, finance, marketing, organizational behavior and business leadership. Based on your aptitudes and interests, however, you may choose a degree path which allows you to advance beyond basic principles and further explore a specific field. If you enjoy statistical analysis, forecasting trends, making investments and managing assets, then finance may be the ideal concentration for you.
What sort of job prospects can you expect once you’ve earned your MBA in Finance? These five jobs offer excellent opportunities for finance MBAs to make the most of their skills while increasing their earnings and accruing the experience they’ll need to take the next step forward in their careers.
1. Financial Analyst
Financial analysts play an indispensable role in plotting corporate strategy. Financial analysts have two main responsibilities:
- Monitor various economic indicators — from the price of important commodities to the monetary policies set by governments across the globe — and gather relevant data.
- Synthesize that information and craft investment recommendations based on how present economic conditions will affect future economic performance.
Financial analysts often work in fast-paced and highly competitive environments. To succeed as a financial analyst, you’ll not only need to be able to crunch numbers, but you’ll also need to be an excellent communicator.
Financial analysts are well-compensated for their expertise. According to the U.S. News & World Report, which ranked Financial Analyst #11 on their list of the 25 Best Business Jobs, the average starting salary for people in this profession is over $80,000 annually. Further, the Labor Department predicts that demand for financial analysts will only continue to grow. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) anticipates that, between now and 2024, companies will hire an additional 32,000 financial analysts, which equates to a growth rate of over 12 percent for the job category.
Both accounting and finance majors are well-prepared to build rewarding and lucrative careers in the insurance industry. Actuaries are experts in risk management. Like financial analysts, actuaries perform research and collect data, then process that data to look for meaningful patterns in it. Unlike financial analysts, however, actuaries do not focus exclusively on financial statistics. Instead, actuaries examine a wide array of factors to assess the likelihood that certain events will occur and calculate the potential costs to insurers who cover entities wishing to mitigate the consequences of those events.
Many actuaries also apply their knowledge to creating strategies for reducing the probability of such events or avoiding them altogether. For example, when you apply for automobile insurance, actuarial research factors into the questions you must answer to receive a quote, e.g., the distance you commute to work each day, the age of your automobile and your driving record. Actuaries are professionally certified, and becoming an actuary may require investment in your formal education beyond the MBA. The latest BLS data places the average annual salary for actuaries at approximately $100,610.
How do companies raise the money they need for key expenditures? For example, if a privately owned company wants to go public and issue stock, it will need the services of an investment banker. The investment banker’s job is to help clients manage their capital assets to achieve their immediate goals. Even entry-level jobs in this field can entail a significant amount of salesmanship and proficiency in negotiation.
Not only do investment bankers determine the valuation of stocks, bonds and other complicated financial instruments, but they also develop strategies for effectively selling those securities. Investment banking is not confined to commercial industries. Governments — from cities to entire nations — also turn to investment banks to fund infrastructure projects, state-sponsored pension disbursements and other activities. The BLS reports that “demand for investment banking advisory services and commodities trading are likely to create strong employment growth.” Salaries vary widely in this profession; however, the BLS lists a median annual income of about $72,000. But that figure does not include commissions and bonuses, both of which are common in the industry. With those forms of compensation factored in, investment banker earnings rise to between $100,000 and $150,000 per year.
Financial managers provide financial leadership for their organizations. Financial managers are responsible for the following:
- Supervising teams of employees (e.g., financial analysts).
- Guiding and auditing budgetary operations.
- Developing and directing investment strategies.
- Establishing and enforcing fiscal policies and procedures.
- Setting and meeting the organization’s general financial goals.
Financial managers typically occupy high-ranking positions within their organizations. Some financial managers may head individual departments, while others’ responsibilities may involve them in all of the organization’s operations. Most financial managers must also accrue several years of work experience before attaining their positions. However, the financial manager career track can ultimately lead to the position of Chief Financial Officer (CFO). According to the BLS, financial managers earn a median salary of about $121,750 per year. The BLS also projects that “as with other managerial occupations, job seekers are likely to face competition because there are more applicants than job openings.” However, “candidates with a master’s degree or certification should enjoy the best job prospects.”
In March of 2016, the U.S. News & World Report published their list of the six hottest jobs for MBA graduates. The number one job on this list? Financial advisor, a relatively new and still evolving position. The rapid and still accelerating growth of this industry also serves to remind prospective MBAs that their degrees don’t simply prepare them to take on a role in a corporate environment. Your MBA can be the impetus to embarking on an exciting entrepreneurial venture. Most financial advisors work as independent agents, providing comprehensive personal financial consultation to individuals and families. The BLS notes, “As the population ages and life expectancies rise, demand for financial planning services should increase” by nearly 30 percent over the next decade.
As such, financial advisors must be familiar with a complex array of financial topics and management techniques, from debt consolidation to retirement accounts. As wealth management authority Eric Schaefer notes in a U.S. News & World Report article, “Good financial advisors and good teachers tend to have a lot of traits in common.” The article goes on to say, “advisors must be able to listen to their clients; explain complex ideas in easy-to-understand ways; and be able to sympathize with their clients.” In addition to the growth rate noted above, the BLS cites an average national salary for financial advisors of approximately $90,530.
Learn more about how Louisiana State University Shreveport’s online MBA program with a finance concentration can give you the resources you need to transition to a more rewarding career in finance.
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