Asset management, more commonly known as investment management, involves the analysis, purchase, and supervision of financial portfolios with a goal of increasing the value of these holdings. These portfolios may include stocks, real estate, bonds, and other financial investment products and could be owned by private individuals or corporations. Concentrations in investment management are often available to students enrolled in broader finance or business programs at the bachelor's, certificate, and master's levels. Certificate programs are designed for bachelor's degree holders who are looking to build on their existing knowledge by specializing in this field, and master's degree programs are commonly designed for working professionals.
Bachelor's programs will require students to be high school educated in order to enroll, with particular emphasis placed on mathematics, accounting, and computer coursework. Certificates will need a bachelor's degree and prerequisite coursework in accounting, economics, and finance, along with a familiarity with computer spreadsheets. Master's degrees typically need a bachelor's degree, a personal essay, and letters of recommendation.
Bachelor's Degree in Investment Management
This program enables students to succeed in all facets of investment management including analysis of financial statements, debt securities, equity securities, derivative instruments, portfolio management, and financial risk.
The investment management concentration is the basis for a career in this field. Sample courses include:
- Financial engineering
- Accounting decisions
- Portfolio management
- Business law and ethics
Certificate in Investment Management
Certificate courses may fulfill pre-MBA requirements. The program's curriculum comprehensively covers basic aspects of financial theory and practice. With a concentration in investment management, the student selects elective courses. Such sample courses include:
- Security analysis
- Science of investing
- Commodity futures trading
- Investment portfolio management
- Options and other financial derivatives
Master's Degree in Investment Management
Students may pursue a Master of Science in Investment or Master in Business Administration. The courses provide a well-rounded examination of the investment environment for the money manager. Contemporary theories and techniques for security selection and management are taught. Students acquire financial analysis skills using financial statements.
A master's degree is generally geared to the working professional's schedule. Students take courses that include:
- International economics
- Derivative markets
- Equity analysis
- Risk management
Graduates with a major in finance and a concentration in investment management can expect to find a career in financial departments of many fields. These fields include:
- Investment firms
- Real estate firms
- Insurance companies
- Government and public agencies
Students who obtain a certificate in finance with a concentration in investment management may follow various career paths. These career paths include:
- Corporate finance
- Financial analysis
- Security analysis
- Real estate finance
Skills acquired in the Master in Investment Management open doors to several careers. Such careers include:
- Assistant portfolio manager
- Credit analyst
- Investment analyst
Employment Outlook and Salary Info
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projected that job openings for financial analysts, including investment analysts, would grow by 6% from 2018-2028 (www.bls.gov). These professionals earned a median annual salary of $85,660 as of May 2018, per the BLS.
The investment manager may choose to pursue a Chartered Financial Analyst or CFA credential, which is supervised by the CFA Institute and often required by prospective employers. To obtain this credential, the candidate must have four years of qualified investment work experience, join the CFA Institute, adhere to the Code of Ethics and Standards of Professional Conduct, become a member of a local CFA society and finish the CFA program. The CFA program consists of three levels, each ending in a 6-hour exam. The program takes between 2-5 years, but the professional can take as long as he or she needs.
Asset management professionals can earn an education in the field through related bachelor's and master's degrees, as well as graduate certificates. In addition to preparing students for work in a number of jobs, these programs qualify them for professional certification.