How to Become a Portfolio Investment Manager

Mar 10, 2020

Find out how to become a portfolio investment manager. Research the education requirements and learn about the experience you need to advance your career in financial analysis.

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Be a Portfolio Investment Manager

Portfolio investment managers are financial analysts who oversee an entire team of financial analysts and handle the investment portfolios for a company, helping the company earn income. They might evaluate and recommend specific investment opportunities, keeping in mind trends, laws and regulations.

Most financial analysts work in comfortable offices in the finance and insurance industries, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). However, many of these professionals need to work overtime each week and maintain busy work schedules. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported a median annual salary of $85,660 for financial analysts in May 2018.

Career Requirements

Degree Level Bachelor's degree required; many have a master's
Degree Field Business, finance, statistics, economics, accounting
Licensure and/or Certification Required to be licensed with Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA); separate professional certification is also available
Experience Many start in lower-tier financial analyst positions
Key Skills Detail-oriented, math skills, communication skills

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Steps for Portfolio Investment Managers

Let's see what steps you'll need to take to become a portfolio investment manager.

Step 1: Attain a Bachelor's Degree

Portfolio investment managers start their careers by acquiring a bachelor's degree in accounting, economics, business, statistics or finance, with classes in all those subjects. Many of these subjects can prepare an individual for either an entry-level position or graduate school. However, a large number of portfolio investment managers also hold a Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree, so it is advantageous for one to choose an undergraduate major that can ease the transition into an MBA program.

Step 2: Earn a Master's Degree

One may decide to earn a master's degree right after completing his or her bachelor's or after gaining experience in the field. In graduate business school, master's degree programs may be in business, risk management, finance or accounting. Courses in bond evaluation and pricing provide an educational foundation for portfolio investment managers. Although not mandatory, a master's degree can help one advance in this competitive career.

Step 3: Find a Financial Analyst Position

Portfolio investment managers are an advanced career choice in securities, and most portfolio managers start out as financial analysts. This position may be available as a graduate internship or a full-time paid position. Working as an investment advisor for individuals may help develop the skills and experience to become a portfolio investment manager as well.

Step 4: Acquire Licensure

As a financial analyst empowered to buy and sell to manage a portfolio of investments, portfolio investment managers must be licensed. Though the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) oversees the licensure examinations, the exact combination of licenses is dictated by the state and the types of investments in the portfolio. Many license exams require the portfolio investment manager to have employer sponsorship, so financial analysts are not expected to have the licenses before being hired.

Step 5: Register with Securities Agencies

Portfolio investment managers need to be registered with their state's securities agency. States may require fingerprinting for a background check, in addition to an application or registration form. Managers of large portfolios, generally more than $25 million, may need to register with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). SEC registration requires filing a form and maintaining accurate accounting of the investments managed.

Step 6: Consider Certification Options

Many employing firms prefer portfolio managers who hold the official Chartered Financial Analyst designation from the CFA institute. Portfolio investment managers meet the designation's requirements by possessing a bachelor's degree, acquiring four years of experience and completing three examinations taken either back to back or individually. These tests cover information like asset evaluation, corporate financing, accounting, economics, portfolio management and securities analysis.

To become a portfolio investment manager, you'll need to earn a bachelor's degree, consider earning a master's degree, obtain any required licenses and complete any required registration.

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