What to expect when earning an MBA in finance
If you’ve spent years in the working world and are eager to progress into a leadership position, it can feel as though there are simply too many roadblocks standing in your way. But one thing is certain—you don’t have to let any of them hold you back.
Perhaps you have your sights set on top-tier roles like chief financial officer, investment banker or senior financial analyst. If so, a Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree in finance can help make those career dreams a reality.
Because you’ll want to be certain this is the right path for you before taking the leap to enroll in a program, we’ve compiled an outline covering the basic elements of an MBA in finance program as well as the careers that may follow. Join us as we take a look at what could await you with this degree.
What is an MBA in finance program like?
There are two main options to consider when you decide to pursue this type of degree—you could enroll in a general MBA program or you could pursue a specialized path by selecting an emphasis, such as an MBA in finance, accounting, international business, human resources, entrepreneurship or health care administration. If you’re interested in a specific industry or profession, a specialized MBA path could be a good choice. It may equip you with the targeted skills and experience that can give you a leg up during a competitive job search.
An MBA in finance provides students with the same foundational knowledge as a general MBA, covering topics like statistics, economics, leadership and marketing. But the finance emphasis also offers students an opportunity to broaden their expertise in areas like stock market analysis, global economy, corporate finance and investment banking.
“Every type of organization—whether public or private, for-profit or not-for-profit—requires an understanding of finance,” says Dr. Aaron Schmerbeck, assistant professor of finance and economics at Brandman University. “An MBA in finance from Brandman University provides students with a flexible, applied program that relates to real-life financial problems.”
Dr. Schmerbeck explains that students in a program like the one at Brandman are given opportunities to engage in a team environment on projects, reports, discussions and presentations, gaining important skills in the areas of problem-solving, leadership, management and data analysis. “These applicable skills are a premium in the workforce, and are expected to be in-demand for the foreseeable future,” he adds.
The great news for a working professional like you is that colleges and universities offer a number of flexible learning options to help make earning an advanced degree more feasible. From fully online options to hybrid models, accessible degree programs can help meet the needs of busy adult learners.
What can I do with an MBA in finance?
Analyzing potential career opportunities is an important part of weighing an advanced degree. As you consider pursuing an MBA in finance to propel your career to the next level, ask yourself whether you can envision a fulfilling career in one of the following four positions:
1. Senior financial analyst
There are both junior and senior level financial analysts. Junior financial analysts typically have a bachelor’s degree and anywhere from zero to three years of relevant experience. They may spend their days collecting data, maintaining spreadsheets and crafting financial models. Senior financial analysts, on the other hand, get to dedicate more of their time to developing financial theses and speaking to management teams and investors.
It’s important for senior financial analysts to keep their fingers on the pulse of the industry to help form their investment opinions. Senior financial analysts then present investment ideas to their firm or client. They also regularly evaluate junior analysts’ work, review earnings reports and check in with the trading desk. If you’re currently working in that junior role, an MBA in finance could elevate you to the senior level you may have your sights set on.
2. Financial manager
A financial manager keeps tabs on the overall financial health of an organization. While this was once mostly comprised of monitoring a company’s finances and crafting detailed reports, advancements in technology have streamlined the process of creating financial reports. This has given financial managers more room to evolve their typical duties to include things like increased data analysis and advising senior management teams on ways to maximize profits. Crucial new skills that have become a necessity in this role are made accessible through advanced education options like an MBA in finance.
Financial managers are often responsible for supervising all employees who do financial reporting and budgeting. It’s also important for these professionals to stay up to date with market trends to help their organization identify notable expansion opportunities. This role encompasses a number of job titles, including finance officer, treasurer, controller, risk manager and insurance manager.
3. Investment banker
Many finance professionals are drawn to the lucrative world of investment banking. Entry-level employees quickly come within reach of a six-figure salary, and senior investment bankers could earn millions annually. It’s a competitive field, which is why a master’s degree — particularly an MBA in finance — could set you apart from the pack.
An investment banker will typically work for a financial institution to raise capital for corporations, governments or other entities. Some examples of well-known investment banks include Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase and Bank of America Merrill Lynch. Investment bankers specialize in navigating large, complicated financial transactions. That can include acquisitions, mergers and big sales for a client or group of clients.
Another aspect of investment banking is identifying the financial risks of a particular endeavor or project. For that reason, businesses and nonprofit organizations often consult these professionals.
4. Chief financial officer
Chief financial officer (CFO) is a highly desirable executive role, often paired with a multimillion-dollar salary. These professionals are well-compensated because their role is demanding and complex.
A CFO’s work can be summarized in three distinct categories:
- Controllership duties include gathering, reporting and presenting accurate and timely historical financial information for an organization. Stakeholders rely on this information, so CFOs must be meticulously accurate in their reporting.
- Treasury duties include maintaining the present financial health of the organization. They need to focus on how best to invest the company’s money and also zero in on the capital structure of the company to determine the most appropriate mix of debt, equity and internal financing.
- Economic strategy and forecastingduties center on preparing the company for a lucrative financial future. CFOs use economic forecasting and modeling to identify where a company is most efficient, and then determine how they can capitalize on this information to help ensure financial success.
Finance could be in your future
As you explore your career options as a leader in the financial industry, you may feel the urge to advance. The skills and expertise offered by an MBA in finance could be the key that unlocks these doors you’ve been knocking on.
To learn more about the ins and outs of this education path, and to determine whether it’s the right fit for you, head over to Brandman University’s MBA in Finance program page.
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