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Financial Managers - What They Do


How to Advance (Advancement)
Financial managers may broaden their skills and exhibit their competency by attaining professional certification. Many associations offer professional certification programs. For example, the CFA Institute confers the Chartered Financial Analyst designation on investment professionals who have at least a bachelor's degree, work experience, and pass three difficult exams. The Association for Financial Professionals confers the Certified Treasury Professional credentials to those who pass a computer-based exam and have a minimum of 2 years of relevant experience. Continuing education is required to maintain these credentials. Also, financial managers who specialize in accounting or budgeting sometimes earn the Certified Management Accountant (CMA) designation. The CMA is offered by the Institute of Management Accountants to its members who have a bachelor's degree, at least 2 years of work experience, pass the institute's four-part examination, and fulfill continuing education requirements.

Continuing education is vital to financial managers, who must cope with the growing complexity of global trade, changes in Federal and State laws and regulations, and the proliferation of new and complex financial instruments. Firms often provide opportunities for workers to broaden their knowledge and skills by encouraging them to take graduate courses and attend conferences related to their specialty. Financial management, banking, and credit union associations, often in cooperation with colleges and universities, sponsor numerous national and local training programs. Subjects covered by training programs include accounting management, budget management, corporate cash management, financial analysis, international banking, and information systems. Many firms pay all or part of the costs for employees who successfully complete the courses. Although experience, ability, and leadership are emphasized for promotion, advancement may be accelerated by this type of special study.

Because financial management is so important to efficient business operations, well-trained, experienced financial managers who display a strong grasp of the operations of various departments within their organization are prime candidates for promotion to top management positions. Some financial managers transfer to closely related positions in other industries. Those with extensive experience and access to sufficient capital may start their own consulting firms.

Employment
Financial managers held about 539,300 jobs in 2008. Although they can be found in every industry, approximately 31 percent were employed by finance and insurance establishments, such as banks, savings institutions, finance companies, credit unions, insurance carriers, and securities dealers. About 7 percent worked for Federal, State, or local government.

Job Outlook
Employment growth for financial managers is expected is to be as fast as the average for all occupations. However, applicants will likely face keen competition for jobs. Those with a master's degree and certification will have the best opportunities.

Job Growth
Employment of financial managers over the 2008–18 decade is expected to grow by 8 percent, which is as fast as the average for all occupations. Regulatory changes and the expansion and globalization of finance and companies will increase the need for financial expertise and drive job growth. As the economy expands, both the growth of established companies and the creation of new businesses will spur demand for financial managers. Employment of bank branch managers is expected to increase because banks are creating new branches. However, mergers, acquisitions, and corporate downsizing are likely to restrict the employment growth of financial managers to some extent.

Long-run demand for financial managers in the securities and commodities industry will continue to be driven by the need to handle increasingly complex financial transactions and manage a growing amount of investments. Financial managers also will be needed to handle mergers and acquisitions, raise capital, and assess global financial transactions. Employment of risk managers, who assess risks for insurance and investment purposes, also will grow.

Some companies may hire financial managers on a temporary basis, to see the organization through a short-term crisis or to offer suggestions for boosting profits. Other companies may contract out all accounting and financial operations. Even in these cases, however, financial managers may be needed to oversee the contracts.

As with other managerial occupations, jobseekers are likely to face competition because the number of job openings is expected to be less than the number of applicants. Candidates with expertise in accounting and finance—particularly those with a master's degree or certification—should enjoy the best job prospects. An understanding of international finance, derivatives, and complex financial instruments is important. Excellent communication skills are essential because financial managers must explain and justify complex financial transactions.

As banks expand the range of products and services they offer to include wealth management, insurance, and investment products, branch managers with knowledge in these areas will be needed. As a result, candidates who are licensed to sell insurance or securities will have more favorable prospects.

Earnings
Median annual wages, excluding annual bonuses and stock options, of wage and salary financial managers were $99,330 in May 2008. The middle 50 percent earned between $72,030 and $135,070.

Large organizations often pay more than small ones, and salary levels also can depend on the type of industry and location. Many financial managers in both public and private industry receive additional compensation in the form of bonuses which, like salaries, vary substantially by size of firm. Deferred compensation in the form of stock options is common, especially for senior-level executives.

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Academic Programs of Interest

Bachelor of Business Administration
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Finance
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Master of Business Administration
The Master of Business Administration (MBA) is a master's degree in business administration, which attracts people from a wide range of academic disciplines. The MBA designation originated in the United States, emerging from the late 19th century as the country industrialized and companies sought out ...more
Operations Management
Operations management is an area of business that is concerned with the production of goods and services, and involves the responsibility of ensuring that business operations are efficient and effective. It is also the management of resources, the distribution of goods and services to customers, and ...more
Risk Management
Risk management is simply a practice of systematically selecting cost effective approaches for minimizing the effect of threat realization to the organization. All risks can never be fully avoided or mitigated simply because of financial and practical limitations. Therefore all organizations have to ...more