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When earning a degree in Finance, what general courses are needed and what career field i can obtain?

I've been interested in becoming a financial advisor or anything relating the finance field.

#FinanceMajor

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Yvonne’s Answer

Hi Tiffany,


I majored in Finance in college thinking I wanted to be in Wall street trading floor where the actions are. However, I learned later on there are so many career path with Finance major. I was able to join a fortune 100 company in the Treasury department as Treasury analyst after graduation. From that job, I realized I needed to learn more about accounting, then was able to transfer internally to the accounting organization. I do believe having the fundamental accounting knowledge really is beneficial to all finance roles. From there, moved to FP&A (Financial Planning & Analysis), Finance Systems, and Controller.


My advice is have an open mind, try different Finance functions early in your career, then decide if you like Treasury, FP&A or Accounting. Most importantly knowing every company need finance/accounting role.


Best of luck.


Yvonne

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Joseph’s Answer

Hi Tiffany,


You will definitely be taking a few accounting classes and some business math as well. Most of the math in Finance is algebra but you will probably be exposed to some calculus as well. Your career track will probably depend on whether you want to go into Investment Finance or Corporate Finance. Investments is related to asset pricing - stocks, bonds, real estate, etc. You will learn how to value these things so you can decide if they are good investments. Corporate Finance relates to the financial operations of a business. Budgeting, forecasting, and cash allocation are common job functions in CF. The good news is that finance skills are useful in nearly every industry. When you think of a company whose products you like, chances are they have a finance department and they may even be hiring.


Hope this help, good luck!



Joseph recommends the following next steps:

Look on LinkedIn or Indeed.com for some of these job descriptions - Financial Analyst, Financial Adviser, Loan Officer, Credit Analyst, Investment Banking Associate, Business Consultant, Revenue Analyst. Read the descriptions and see if any of them seem like something you'd like. If so, look at the skill requirements so you understand what you need to do to get that kind of job.
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Jay’s Answer

Hi Tiffany!


Thank you so much for asking this question! I majored in Finance in university.


Finance is very interesting because you can go a few different career tracks:


  • FP&A (Financial Planning & Analysis) / Accounting
  • Investment Management / Asset Management (Managing People's Money)
  • Investment Banking (working on deals like telling Amazon how much they should buy Whole Foods for, helping the government issue money for bonds to help build roads, bridges and water systems)
  • Consulting & Strategy (working at a company like McKinsey to consult businesses on big decisions like if a company should expand to Europe)
  • Quantitative Finance - these bright people help traders at hedge funds plan for scenario's to make BIG decisions. A trader may believe a certain economic event will occur and a "quant" will help build a model for that person using applied mathematics to properly help them make a big decision on a multi-million dollar investment.
  • Sales & Trading - This is similar to investment management, except you'll be buying and selling bonds more regularly for larger amounts.
  • Or you could move into Academics and earn a Masters or PhD

There's a lot of diversity in how you can plan your career. I would suggest connecting with people on LinkedIn and here that have those titles and learning more about those 4 main functions. That will guide you on which coursework you should use to best prepare yourself for the right career.


If you desire a career in quantitative finance, you may double major in mathematics or statistics. However, if you want to work at a big company like Dell, AT&T or Netflix you might join their FP&A team and that will mean you'll take more Accounting courses and probably be an Accounting major.






Jay recommends the following next steps:

If you're interested in becoming an financial advisor I recommend checking out: 1. Brittany Castro of Financially Wise (https://www.financiallywiseinc.com/) - IG: @brittneycastro 2. Dave Ramsey (https://www.daveramsey.com/show) 3. Alexa Von Tobel - LearnVest - (https://www.stitcher.com/podcast/how-i-built-this/e/52607979) This is a great place to get started learning about people in the financial advising space.
Do a YouTube search of Finance Majors, Finance Career Paths, the careers I mentioned
Leverage https://www.investopedia.com as a learning resource
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Jennifer’s Answer

Hi Tiffany, I can definitely relate to your question, since I graduated from a liberal arts college as an English major before deciding that I wanted to work in finance. During my last year of college I worked as a bank teller, and it was that experience that led me to a career in banking. Finance jobs I was able to get with an English major and a few additional junior/community college courses included Research Assistant at a mutual fund company, Trading Assistant at a firm that managed pension funds, Corporate Trust Administrator at a bank, and Management Trainee/Commercial Lending Officer at a bank (in that sequence).


My English major background seemed like a disadvantage to me at the time, but I can now see that excellent communication skills, both speaking and writing, were and are extremely valuable in finance. I see the field of finance diverging into two major paths. One of those paths is the client-facing, communication path that you reference (teller, financial counselor or advisor, branch manager, customer service representative or manager). There are numerous customer service jobs in banks, insurance companies, and mortgage lending companies in which the communication is done by telephone, email, or messaging/chat on the computer. These jobs often do not require a college degree, but what they do require is excellent communication skills. I worked in the mortgage division of a bank, and knew several people who started their careers in customer service or operations without a degree. Over time, they expanded their knowledge on the job, while pursuing their education at night school or online (and getting tuition reimbursement from the bank), and gradually advanced into higher roles until they were in middle management. This can be a great path.


The second major path in finance is the analytical/technological path. In these types of jobs, there is typically no interaction with customers, and most of your work is done on a computer using Excel, databases, word processing, and presentation software such as PowerPoint. For these types of jobs, you are typically gathering information from multiple sources (reading annual reports, listening to conference calls, asking people questions, looking up numbers on the internet), analyzing and processing the information (Excel, databases), then communicating your conclusions in writing or presentations (Word, PowerPoint) to other workers. For these types of jobs, you will definitely need a degree or at least multiple courses in finance and business. The courses I took (after getting a liberal arts degree) to get my first job of this kind were: two semesters of accounting, one semester of economics, one semester of statistics, one semester of computer science, and Excel. I agree with the prior gentlemen who responded to your question, that accounting courses are the key. I would add to that list: Excel, Access, and SQL, but especially Excel. Business law and courses in general business (marketing, organizational behavior, operations/supply chain, business communications, business strategy) are also very helpful. I took math through the first semester of calculus, mostly because it seemed impressive, but the highest math I have ever used in my work is algebra. You might need to take math through calculus to satisfy a degree requirement, but if you do not, I personally think calculus is a poor use of time for most people.


From your prior question it sounded as though you are already working in a bank and just trying to figure out how to advance. If this is your situation, you might consider getting your education online, such as at Western Governors University. They have a bachelor's degree in accounting that is very affordable. I don't think you need a degree in finance to work in finance. Finally, be sure to let your employer know that you are interested in advancing!


I know you will do well, and I wish you the best of success.


Jennifer



Jennifer recommends the following next steps:

Sign up for a class in business communication or English composition
Sign up for a class in accounting
Sign up for a class in Excel, or if you are already advanced in Excel, then learn Access or SQL
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Thomas’s Answer

I would suggest following your interests within Finance as your degree, more than the specific courses, will give a hiring company plenty of reason to interview you. As an interviewer I'm always hoping to see people who enjoy their field of study rather than those who took the courses they didn't like but felt they had to. Finance is a very broad topic and encompasses 'technical' fields as well as more 'social-science' fields and both are valuable to employers, but a geniune interest in the topics you take cannot be replaced.

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Darrell’s Answer

Hi - I support several of the comments posted here.  I got my BSBA and MBA in Finance, convinced that was my long-term path.  I worked for 5 years in the financial services industry while attaining the relevant licenses (series 6. 7, etc) .  Then I moved overseas and completely changed industries - I joined IT organizations in various roles but that financial experience has always been helpful!  Being flexible and open minded is really critical in today's workplace, so I'd encourage you to follow what you passionate about now and adjust and seek out different opportunities as needed/wanted. 


Hope that helps :)

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