Mutual Fund Financial Managers
Education and Training Requirements
Financial managers need to be whizzes at numbers, financial concepts, and data analytics, so you should take classes in mathematics (algebra, geometry, calculus, statistics), economics, and accounting. Business and economics classes will help you to develop an understanding of the business world and the financial sector. Other important classes include government, computer science (especially database management), speech, and English.
A minimum of a bachelor’s degree in finance, accounting, economics, or business administration is required to work as a financial manager. Many large firms prefer to hire financial managers with a master’s degree in business administration, economics, accounting, or finance. According to a 2015 study by Businessinsider.com of the 100 top-earning CFOs at medium and large public companies, the most common degrees held were:
- Master of business administration (held by 37 percent of CFOs)
- Bachelor of arts in business administration (18 percent)
- Bachelor of science in accounting (17 percent)
- Bachelor of arts or science in economics (13 percent)
AACSB International accredits colleges and universities that offer undergraduate and graduate degrees in business and accounting. Visit https://www.aacsb.edu/accreditation/accredited-schools for a list of accredited programs. Additional education information can be accessed at https://www.thiswaytocpa.com.
Other Education or Training
Keeping up with industry developments is key to success as a financial manager. Many professional associations provide continuing education opportunities. For example, the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants offers more than 350 self-study courses. It also hosts more than 60 annual conferences and workshops. Recent classes included Advanced Controller and CFO Skills, Securities & Exchange Reporting, Mastering Data Preparation and Analysis in Excel, and Understanding Business Valuation. The Association of Financial Professionals, Chartered Institute of Management Accountants, Financial Executives International, CFA Institute, Institute of Internal Auditors, Institute of Management Accountants, National Association of Corporate Treasurers, and accounting and finance associations at the state and local levels also provide professional development opportunities. Contact these organizations for more information.
Certificate programs are provided by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (International Financial Reporting Standards), Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (business accounting), and the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (international auditing and international financial reporting). Many financial managers utilize these short-term educational programs to build their skills and develop specialized knowledge. Contact these organizations for more information.
Certification, Licensing, and Special Requirements
Certification or Licensing
Accounting professionals who file reports with the Securities and Exchange Commission are required by law to be certified public accountants. To earn this designation, you must complete 150 semester hours of college course work (in nearly all states), pass a qualifying examination, have at least two years of public accounting experience or the equivalent, and hold a certificate issued by the state in which you wish to practice. The Uniform CPA Examination, which is administered by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA), is used by all states. The examination has four parts: Audit and Attestation, Financial Accounting and Reporting, Regulation, and Business Environment & Concepts.
Several professional associations offer certification programs. Popular certifications include:
- accredited business accountant/advisor, accredited tax preparer, accredited tax advisor (Accreditation Council for Accountancy and Taxation)
- certification in control self-assessment, certified financial services auditor, certification in risk management assurance (Institute of Internal Auditors)
- certified internal auditor (Institute of Internal Auditors)
- chartered global management accountant (a joint venture of the AICPA and the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants)
- certified financial manager, certified management accountant (Institute of Management Accountants)
- certified treasury professional, certified corporate financial planning and analysis professional (Association of Financial Professionals)
Experience, Skills, and Personality Traits
To be eligible for top financial management positions—such as chief financial officer—you’ll need to have five to 10 years of experience in lower-level financial management positions of increasing responsibility. In addition to financial experience, financial managers also need skills in a wide range of complementary areas. “Today’s most effective CFOs are those that have a breadth of business experience in addition to finance—from operations management, to business development, to even information technology and human resources,” according to Changing Economy/Evolving CFO, a report from the finance and accounting staffing firm Accounting Principals.
There’s a lot more to a successful career as a financial manager than simply being good at math. Financial managers must have excellent analytical, critical-thinking, and strategic planning skills. More than half of the chief financial officers surveyed by the cloud corporate performance management company Adaptive Insights reported that their roles had expanded from number crunching to include strategic business analysis. Strong ethics, leadership ability, a detail-oriented personality, and excellent communication and interpersonal skills are other important traits. Staying abreast of changing technology (including the ability to use financial-related software and databases such as Microsoft Dynamics Great Plains, Oracle PeopleSoft, and SAP, as well as data management software such as Microsoft Excel) is also very important. “Keeping pace with changing technology” was the most-cited pressure facing accounting and finance departments, according to a survey of CFOs by Robert Half Management Resources.