Become a Financial Planning Manager
Financial planning managers collaborate with economic analysts about current projects, present reports to committees and advise administrators concerning financial practices. They govern a company's investments, accounting and finance operations and may prepare its financial reports. Some work for financial firms that focus on particular types of investments, such as retirement. These professionals may also supervise investment and accounting departments, in addition to working as business consultants in the public and private sectors. Long work hours are often required for financial managers.
|Degree Level||Bachelor's degree; master's degree preferred|
|Degree Field||Related field such as finance, accounting, economics, or business administration|
|Certification||Voluntary certification is available; applicants with the Certified Public Accountant (CPA) credential may be preferred|
|Experience||Varies; 5+ years of professional experience common|
|Key Skills||Strong analytical, communication, and organizational, time-management, critical-thinking, reading comprehension, and assessment skills; familiarity with accounting, credit management, financial analysis, and spreadsheet software; willingness to travel and work long hours|
|Salary||$117,990 (2105 median salary for all financial managers)|
Sources: Job listings from employers (December 2012), U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, O*Net OnLine
Requirements for financial planners include a bachelor's degree and finance-related work experience. Key skills needed include strong analytical, communication and organizational skills along with time-management, critical-thinking, reading comprehension and assessment skills. Financial planning managers also need familiarity with accounting, credit management, financial analysis and spreadsheet software and a willingness to travel and work long hours. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), financial managers in May 2015 made a median annual salary of $117,990.
Job Steps to Follow
Aspiring financial planning managers need to go through some specific steps. Let's now go through each step in detail:
Step 1: Obtain a Bachelor's Degree in Finance
Most employers require at least a bachelor's degree in a field such as business administration, finance or economics. Undergraduate degree programs in these areas generally include courses on investments, international finance, statistics, business law, financial analysis and organizational behavior. These programs are designed to give students a broad foundation of knowledge in these relevant financial topics. Some of these programs allow students to opt for a more focused approach, however, offering concentration options such as business finance or financial planning and investments.
It's recommended to pursue hands-on work opportunities if your degree program offers the chance for students to participate in internship or co-operative work experiences. These valuable opportunities allow students to develop the necessary experience to work in the field as well as a strong understanding of the complex concepts of financial planning in a real-world environment.
Step 2: Get Experience in the Financial Industry
While academic training creates a strong foundation for financial planning managers, employers also consider experience to be very important. Many financial planning managers begin their career in other financial or business professions, such as accountant or financial analyst positions. For example, helping clients make financial planning decisions in a banking atmosphere provides real-world training for retirement planning, loans and investments. Work as an entry-level accountant or junior officer at a financial planning firm can also help individuals gain on-the-job experience.
While on the job, develop key communication skills. Interpersonal, written and verbal communication skills are important to completing this job successfully. Aspiring financial planning managers can begin to hone these skills by interacting with colleagues and learning how to prepare reports and strategic plans under the supervision of senior planners.
You can also consider professional certification in the field. Certification, such as the CPA, Certified Financial Analyst (CFA), Master Financial Planner (FMP), Chartered Market Analyst (CMA) and Chartered Risk Manager (CRA) credentials, can help prospective managers stand out amongst other applicants. These credentials, which demonstrate additional training in the finance field, typically require several years of professional experience and at least a bachelor's degree.
Step 3: Obtain a Master's Degree
Many colleges and universities offer master's degree programs in finance and business administration. Though a master's degree is not always required to secure employment as a financial planning manager, some employers may prefer to hire candidates with this advanced training. These programs generally require previous knowledge of business and financial topics, and coursework includes advanced topics such as derivative securities, corporate taxation and managerial economics.
It is crucial to keep current with changes in banking and finance. As banking and tax laws change frequently, financial planning managers need to remain current with the latest trends and practices. Some professionals pursue formal certification as a way to show their knowledge in the field and commitment to keeping their skills sharp or even take continuing education courses. These extra career enhancements may increase job prospects and create avenues for career advancement.
In conclusion, financial planning managers need a relevant bachelor's degree and work experience in finance, and voluntary certification and a master's degree may be beneficial.