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Financial Manager

Education and Training: Bachelor’s degree, a Master’s degree or professional certification is also desirable
Average Salary: $113,000
Job Outlook: Good, but likely to face competition

Definition and Nature of the Work

Financial managers are essential to just about every firm and government agency, with some organizations employing more than one financial manager. Their job is varied and can include overseeing direct investments, putting in place strategies for managing cash and preparing financial reports. Another important aspect of their job is to develop long-term goals within the organization and strategies for achieving these aims.

Financial managers are employed in commercial banks and savings and loan associations, and can be in charge of overseeing mortgages, trusts and investments. While they are vital to the smooth running of organizations, they are also responsible for making sure that all federal and state laws and regulations are adhered to.

Some financial managers are branch managers of financial institutions, and must have good interpersonal skills in order to attract more business, as well as being able to help existing customers manage their loans and accounts. They must be able to keep abreast of all new developments within the financial world and must have substantial knowledge about the products which are being marketed and sold.

Some financial managers are influential in mergers and consolidations, and the knowledge required for these fields is specialized. In fact certain organizations will require specialist knowledge in order for a financial manager to be able to perform their duties. For example a financial manager working within the healthcare industry must be well informed about health care financing and budgeting, and there may be specific tax laws and regulations which affect that particular industry.

It is becoming increasingly popular for financial managers to be employed on a temporary basis in order to advise senior managers on specialized issues, and technological advancements have meant that financial managers spend more time analyzing data, and often work within teams to advise management.

Education and Training Requirements

The minimum academic qualification is a bachelor’s degree in economics, business administration or accounting. It’s becoming increasingly common for employers to look for a master’s degree in economics or business administration as these programs teach methods of financial analysis and technology, and help develop analytical skills.

There are some institutions that value experience over formal education, and it’s quite common for banks to promote loan officers. Some companies have their own formal management training programs for financial managers.

Once financial managers have obtained their basic qualifications they can go on to further their skills and obtain professional certification which are open to those who have obtained a bachelor’s degree, who have sufficient work experience and who are able to pass the exams. Once certification has been obtained, continuing education is required to maintain it. Continuing education is necessary in order for financial managers to stay on top of this rapidly changing career, as new state laws and regulations are constantly being implemented.

Getting the Job

Anyone applying for a job as a finance manager is likely to have prior experience working for finance companies. As such they will be up against other experienced managers and must make sure that their resume speaks strongly of their skills. It’s especially important to have strong staff management experience and to be exceptionally good at communicating.

Job Prospects, Employment Outlook and Career Development

Although employment prospects are good there is likely to be stiff competition for jobs, and those applicants who have a master’s degree and certification are more likely to be successful. It’s likely that the globalization of financial companies and the growing number of regulations will increase the need for financial managers in the future. A financial manager’s job is likely to become more complicated due to financial transactions becoming more complex.

There were 539,300 financial managers’ jobs in 2008 with approximately one third of all managers being employed by insurance and financial institutions. Around 7% work for local governments or Federal or State agencies.

Working Conditions and Environment

Financial managers have good working conditions as offices are generally comfortable with access to up-to-date technology required for data analysis. Hours are often long and it’s not unusual for a manager to work 50 or 60 hours per week. Managers frequently have to attend financial meetings and may need to travel to customers.

Salary and Benefits

The median salary for a financial manager was $113,000 in 2009, with salaries varying from $72,030 to $135,070. The starting salary is around $55,000 while the best paid managers can earn around $165,000 annually. Financial managers working in large organizations are often better paid than those working in smaller ones and it’s common for managers in private and public industry to receive additional compensation. This may be in the form of bonuses or stock options.

Where to Go for More Information

Association for Financial Professionals
4520 East-West Highway, Suite 750
MD 20814
(301) 907 2862

Chartered Financial Analyst Institute
560 Ray Hunt Dr.
Charlottesville, VA 22903
(434) 951 5499

Financial Management Association International
University of South Florida
College of Business Administration
4202 East Fowler Avenue, BSN 3331
Tampa FL 33620-5500
(813) 974 2084

Institute of Management Accountants
10 Paragon Dr.
NJ 07645.
(800) 638 4427

Additional topics

Job Descriptions and Careers, Career and Job Opportunities, Career Search, and Career Choices and ProfilesAccounting & Finance