How to Become a Financial Manager

How to Become a Financial Manager

Do you like math and working with numbers? Are you interested in a career in business? Perhaps you know how to think logically and you’re super organized.

If this sounds like you, then you may enjoy being a financial manager.

Financial managers hold very important positions in any business, whether they’re start-ups, multi-national corporations, healthcare institutions, or non-profits.

The main responsibility of a financial manager is to analyze their organization’s financial data and help senior leadership make decisions to increase profitability, mitigate risks, and maintain solvency.

Financial managers are also expected to:

  • Ensure the financial practices of the company comply with state and federal regulations.
  • Identify opportunities for the company to grow.
  • Advise on investment activity.
  • Prepare financial statements and business reports.
  • Forecast the company’s profitability prospects over a period of time.

Financial managers have big jobs, so they often oversee a team of people to help them. This team may include accountants, financial analysts, auditors, actuaries, and others. 

Is Being a Financial Manager a Good Career?

How to Become a Financial Manager

Based solely on earning power and employment prospects, being a financial manager is a good career.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, financial managers can earn a median salary of about $140,000 annually. The Bureau also estimates that employment of financial managers will grow 16% through 2032. That means, an estimated 126,000 financial manager positions will open over the next several years.

Being a financial manager is also a more versatile career than you may think. You’re not limited to just working for investment firms or banks. Virtually every industry needs financial managers!

Here are a few examples of industries you could work in as a financial manager:

  • Higher education. You could work in a financial aid office distributing loans and scholarships to the student body.
  • Healthcare. Hospitals, private practices, nursing homes, and public health agencies all need accountants, billing specialists, and finance managers to handle the monetary aspects of healthcare.
  • Insurance. Insurance companies hire people with financial backgrounds as underwriters, auditors, actuaries, and accountants.
  • Nonprofit. Nonprofits are tax-exempt organizations, which means they are subject to strict audits from the IRS. Financial managers in non-profit organizations work hard to ensure the requirements for the organization’s tax-exempt status are met. They also need to track how contributions are coming in and how they are being used.
  • Television and film. Every film or television production is like its own little business. They have budgets and deadlines they need to adhere to. Every production team has a financial manager to ensure the project stays within its budget, everyone gets paid on time, and production has the best chance of turning a profit.

It’s for all of these reasons and more that the job of financial manager appears in the #1 spot on U.S. News and World Report’s list of Best Business Jobs. Furthermore, financial manager appears in the #2 spot the publication’s list of 100 Best Jobs overall.

6 Steps to Becoming a Financial Manager

How to Become a Financial Manager

If you think you’d like to pursue a career as a financial manager, then let’s look at the steps you should take to make that happen.

1. Focus on Math Courses in High School

If you’re in high school and know that you want to pursue a career as a financial manager, then you can start now to prepare.

The most relevant classes you can take in high school are algebra, geometry, and calculus. If your school offers elective classes in economics, accounting, or business, take those classes as well.

Whenever possible, take AP level classes because you may be able to earn college credit upon passing the AP exam.

2. Earn a Bachelor’s Degree

Getting a four-year degree in finance or business will ensure that you learn how businesses run and how to think critically to solve real-world financial challenges.

You may also consider majoring in economics or accounting as a path to becoming a financial manager. Talk to your student advisor to determine the best course of study for you.

Check out the Best Undergraduate Finance Programs to find colleges and universities where you can pursue your degree.

3. Complete an Internship

How to Become a Financial Manager

While you are pursuing your degree, you should aim to complete at least two internships before graduation. The good news is most companies are always eager to hire talented interns and have robust internship programs in place.

As an intern in the field of finance, you can expect to gain skills in accounting, financial reporting, financial analysis, investment strategy, budgeting, auditing, asset management, and more. Financial internships will help you gain real-world experience and make connections that will be valuable in your post-graduation job search.

If you are interested in interning for a specific company, check out their careers page, which should have a section devoted to internships. For example, here’s what you’ll find on JP Morgan’s site.

4. Consider Certification

After graduating, you may want to consider getting one or more certifications. Certifications aren’t necessarily required, but they will make you a more desirable candidate in the eyes of prospective employers.

Here are a few finance certifications that you should consider:

  • Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA). This certification will help you gain the skills needed to pursue a career in investment banking. You’ll learn probability theory, securities analysis, derivatives, and portfolio management. Find out more by contacting the CFA Institute.
  • Financial Risk Management (FRM). This certification will give you the skills needed to identify, avoid, or plan for financial risks. This skill set is particularly in demand among banks and insurance companies. Look into the Global Association of Risk Professionalsfor certification options.
  • Certified Financial Modeling & Valuation Analyst (FMVA). This certification shows potential employers that you’ve mastered financial modeling, which is a skill that more and more businesses need. Look for FMVA courses at the Corporate Finance Institute.
  • Chartered Investment Banking Analyst (CIBA). With this certification, you’ll gain skills in investment and asset management, including the mergers and acquisitions process, firm valuation under uncertainty, financial modeling, and more. Take classes and schedule your exam here.
  • Certified Corporate FP&A Professional. This certification gives you in-depth knowledge of forecasting, budgeting, financial reporting, and the latest financial software systems. Learn more.
  • Certified Public Accountant (CPA). The other certifications in this list are optional, but a CPA license is required if your goal is a career in accounting. Visit the AICPA to learn about the path to CPA licensure.

Again, these are just a few of the most common certifications that you may pursue. For a full list of financial certifications you can obtain, visit the Financial Management Association website.

5. Look into MBA Programs

How to Become a Financial Manager

Financial managers frequently oversee a team of employees and work with senior management. Gaining leadership and communication skills is essential to the role.

One way to obtain these skills is by getting a Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree. Many companies will require that you have an MBA to even be considered for certain roles, which is why students interested in a financial manager career decide to pursue their MBA directly after earning their undergraduate degree.

Some schools even offer an MBA in Finance which delves deeper into financial modeling and analysis.

6. Apply for Jobs 

With your degrees and certifications in hand, you may be eager to look for financial manager jobs. But before you do, you’ll need a winning resume that will highlight your educational and internship experience along with any previous roles.

Then, you’ll be ready to apply for a financial manager role and the “for job seekers page” on the Financial Management Association website is the perfect place to begin your search.

Consider a Career as a Financial Manager

By all accounts, a financial manager is a great career path. There’s high potential to earn a good salary and the position will be in demand for years to come.

Maria Gold is a Content Manager/Writer for Empire Resume. She is dedicated to helping educate and motivate people with the latest career articles and job search advice. Her interests range from writing to programming and design. She is also passionate about innovation, entrepreneurship, and technology.

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