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The Breakdown

Universally, money is the one resource that nearly all of us covet. After all, it is what makes the world go round (at least metaphorically speaking). And whether it is scarce or abundant, we typically desire to earn more. As a finance major, you’ll come to appreciate this phenomenon as you learn how to manage (and make) money for corporations as well as individuals.

At its core, finance is all about creating and maximizing value. To ensure (or at least work towards) this, you need to understand the concepts and principles that inform financial decisions. Therefore, you will study how corporations raise, invest and spend their capital. You will also learn how financial markets operate and how companies distribute their assets among their myriad investments. And you will take a wide spectrum of classes, from accounting to econometrics, guaranteeing a strong foundation in business.

If you choose to study and work in finance, you’ll be tasked with making crucial decisions on a regular basis. You will quickly discover that problem solving and critical thinking skills are essential for success. More specifically, you’ll need to be adept at analyzing and interpreting a lot of data. You should also polish your communication and presentation skills. After all, you will need to be convincing and persuasive when explaining to shareholders why you made a certain investment.

Nuts and Bolts

Finance majors will be able to dole out sound investment advice after classes such as: Financial Derivatives, Money, Banking and Financial Markets, Equity Portfolio Management, Case Studies in Financial Management, Applied Forecasting, Financial Research Methods, Insurance and Risk Management, Estate Planning, Investment Strategies in Property Markets and Personal Finance.

Decisions, Decisions

Finance majors are partial to fields that involve aspects of both business and quantitative reasoning. Therefore, they might also consider studying economics, accounting, marketing, business administration, statistics, mathematics, international business, entrepreneurship, actuarial sciences, real estate, operations management, human resources management, information technology and computer science.

What's Next

Though certainly a competitive field, finance does hold the promise of exciting, challenging and lucrative career options. Graduates find positions within a variety of settings, from banks and brokerage firms to insurance companies and government institutions. Certainly many finance majors head straight for commercial banking opportunities, working in credit analysis, risk management, product development or commercial lending. Others might segue into corporate finance, landing employment as either a controller or treasurer. Controllers typically handle a company’s accounting, budgeting and financial reporting while treasurers are liable for investment management, financial planning and bank relations (among other duties). Finance majors also frequently work in management consulting, helping outside firms improve performance, manage their cash and credit, conduct competitive analysis and assess information systems. Investment banking is another popular option, allowing majors to issue securities like stocks and bonds and manage mergers and acquisitions. Additionally, a handful of students end up working for insurance companies or helping to oversee client investment portfolios. Finally, graduates can also pursue the government route, working for regulation agencies such as the Federal Reserve.


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Don Munce