MBA at Work: MBAs for the Finance Industry

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financialFor those who can handle a career judged on performance, finance has long been a favorite area of specialization for MBA students. However, since the global economic crisis, finance specialist enrollments have dropped. MBA candidates think they'll have more trouble finding jobs in finance. In reality, business schools have been forced to change their programs to incorporate the lessons learned from the global crises. Thus, there are highly-valued positions for more relevant MBAs with a Concentration in Finance. In addition, any country that wants to be the "game changer" in the new age of global finance should take note that while enrollment in finance specializations is down overall – enrollment is up globally with India and China leading the MBA Finance pack.

MBA Finance teaches a host of business fundamentals vitally necessary in any enterprise. So what emerging opportunities will be most valued with your MBA with Specialization in Finance?

Compliance and Risk Management

Perhaps you enjoy working within or setting up the rules. The cowboy days that created the global financial crisis were filled with excess risk taking and criminal activities. Significant growth is anticipated in regulating these as financial institutions and services seek talent to marshal both private sector and government entities.

Specialists in Compliance and Risk Management are those who create and oversee implementation of policies, procedures and interpretive guidelines for governments and business. To be most competitive, your MBA in Finance could include a Sub-Specialization in Accounting. Look for a program with coursework delivering fundamental knowledge including basic microeconomics, financial accounting and reporting, statistical tools as well as trial and error decision making, valuation and investments, managing individuals and working in teams. Your program should put that knowledge in the context of operating a business enterprise and learning how to integrate functions for managerial problem solving. Final levels should cover the big picture - how each functional business area relates to the others, as well as how all are affected by structures, ethics and limitations.

The opportunities created in both public and private financial industry sectors are the most likely financial services industry positions to offer $100K salaries that will grow over the next decade. It may be more difficult to obtain a position in investment banking right now, so look at positions with regulatory agencies and internal corporate spots that assure compliance. An excellent strategy for a smart career planner is to start a career with a regulatory agency. Next you can move to a corporate regulatory or risk planner spot to build real-world expertise in your niche. Then take your MBA with a concentration in Finance plus several years of demonstrated experience in the field to an investment bank that focuses on your market. Who can say no to proven know-how?


Entrepreneurship as a Finance specialization or sub-specialization is gaining popularity, according to market research by CarringtonCrisp (2011). Historically, financial recessions and depressions create considerable entrepreneurial activity in the USA. Seeking more than simply traditional business skill sets, many prospective MBA Finance students are bringing with them a healthy interest in creating start-up companies.

Entrepreneurial MBAs enroll in programs that combine Finance with Engineering and various certification options, for students considering start-ups in emerging technologies. Look for coursework related to developing your business plan, establishing a proper corporate structure, modeling, and managing teams through the growth stages. Course titles may include entrepreneurial leadership; family business management; social entrepreneurship & innovation; realizing entrepreneurial potential; leveraged buyouts; managing corporate turnarounds; new business ventures. Financing and operating coursework should include raising private equity; entrepreneurial strategies for emerging markets; implementing start-up and growth phases; and of course, plenty of opportunity for entrepreneurial field studies.

One great outcome of studies in entrepreneurship is learning from the patterns of historical business successes and failures. Failure is part of the entrepreneurial package. Expect it and learn to deal with it. Employers hire you to turn around a failing business unit when you have prior proof of having done it. MBA Entrepreneurial Specialists with previous experience have the best chances to land key positions leading corporate and individual investments in today's competitive environment. Still, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, nearly half of all working MBAs in finance are self-employed as entrepreneurs or consultants, drawing strong salaries.

Global Finance – International Business

OK – it's not strictly a financial industry MBA specialization, but let's be real. The world grows figuratively smaller as we spend more time online doing personal or professional business. As we saw in the recent global financial disaster, the whole world was influenced by its domino effect. We simply cannot look at doing business in this era, as if there is no global impact.

A solid MBA in Finance and/or International Business program should teach global financial markets, international portfolios, global trends and how to recognize them. Any program in International business should include coursework taught from an international perspective in both theory and practice. Prices and market courses should teach the economic tools to analyze consumer behavior wherever audiences are geo-targeted. On- and off-shore production theory and costs, principles of intergovernmental industry structure and political policies across global markets should be a part of your program. A strong foundation in considering uncertainty, data and the uses and limitations of statistical procedures for interpreting decision-making data are critical. Ethical challenges of a global business environment must certainly be part of your international finance or business curriculum.

Business leadership careers for those holding MBAs with concentrations in International Business or Finance are expected to grow at least faster than the average, per the Bureau of Labor Statistics. This may even be a "sleeper" career area, based on opportunities in diplomacy, offshore manufacturing, international banking, eCommerce, and even private investment fund management for individuals as well as corporations. This is the direction for you if your career interests focus on $100K-$130K starting salaries with strong bonuses. The lucrative positions are in consulting on or managing global strategy, international finance, international marketing, culture and international business operations.

Your MBA Finance Career

An MBA in Finance specialization prepares you for a variety of career paths in management of financial institutions and non-financial organizations, investments and securities brokerages, and general management positions. A number of sub-specializations include corporate finance, costing, investments and securities, budgeting, international finance, working capital management, and entrepreneurship. Learning the broad range of topics generates flexibility in the roles you can shoulder, whether in a commercial bank, investment bank, securities firm, company in a non-financial sector, or your own business.

Financial analysts are among the most in-demand professionals for all sectors in the business, government, and non-profit sectors of the American economy. The largest group of MBAs who become start-up entrepreneurs concentrated their specializations in Finance. Other careers may include: Asset or Portfolio Management, Corporate Finance, Corporate Banking, Credit Risk Management, Derivatives Structuring, Hedge Fund Management, Private Equity, Pension & Insurance, and Treasury. Most consultancy players absolutely require the MBA Finance as the most basic of criteria for entry-level positioning.

Your MBA with concentration in Finance still has value. Remember, in all companies, every action originates from finances and how they are managed in stormy, competitive and global markets.

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