What They Do: Financial managers produce financial reports, direct investment activities, and develop strategies and plans for the long-term financial goals of their organization.
Work Environment: Financial managers work in many industries, including banks and insurance companies. Most financial managers work full time and some work more than 40 hours per week.
How to Become One: Financial managers typically have a bachelor’s degree and 5 years or more of experience in another business or financial occupation, such as an accountant, auditor, securities sales agent, or financial analyst.
Salary: The median annual wage for financial managers is $129,890.
Job Outlook: Employment of financial managers is projected to grow 16 percent over the next ten years, much faster than the average for all occupations. Several core functions of financial managers, including risk management and cash management, are expected to be in high demand over the next decade.
Related Careers: Compare the job duties, education, job growth, and pay of financial managers with similar occupations.
Financial managers are responsible for the financial health of an organization. They produce financial reports, direct investment activities, and develop strategies and plans for the long-term financial goals of their organization.
Financial managers typically do the following:
The role of the financial manager, particularly in business, is changing in response to technological advances that have substantially reduced the amount of time it takes to produce financial reports. Financial managers' main responsibility used to be monitoring a company's finances, but they now do more data analysis and advise senior managers on ways to maximize profits. They often work on teams, acting as business advisors to top executives.
Financial managers also do tasks that are specific to their organization or industry. For example, government financial managers must be experts on government appropriations and budgeting processes, and healthcare financial managers must know about topics in healthcare finance. Moreover, financial managers must be knowledgeable about special tax laws and regulations that affect their industry.
The following are examples of types of financial managers:
Controllers direct the preparation of financial reports that summarize and forecast the organization's financial position, such as income statements, balance sheets, and analyses of future earnings or expenses. Controllers also are in charge of preparing special reports required by governmental agencies that regulate businesses. Often, controllers oversee the accounting, audit, and budget departments of their organization.
Treasurers and finance officers direct their organization's budgets to meet its financial goals. They oversee the investment of funds and carry out strategies to raise capital (such as issuing stocks or bonds) to support the firm's expansion. They also develop financial plans for mergers (two companies joining together) and acquisitions (one company buying another).
Credit managers oversee their firm's credit business. They set credit-rating criteria, determine credit ceilings, and monitor the collections of past-due accounts.
Cash managers monitor and control the flow of cash in and out of the company to meet business and investment needs. For example, they must project cash flow to determine whether the company will have a shortage or surplus of cash.
Risk managers control financial risk by using strategies to limit or offset the probability of a financial loss or a company's exposure to financial uncertainty. Among the risks they try to limit are those that stem from currency or commodity price changes.
Insurance managers decide how best to limit a company's losses by obtaining insurance against risks, such as the need to make disability payments for an employee who gets hurt on the job or the costs imposed by a lawsuit against the company.
Financial managers hold about 653,600 jobs. The largest employers of financial managers are as follows:
|Finance and insurance||30%|
|Professional, scientific, and technical services||14%|
|Management of companies and enterprises||11%|
Financial managers work closely with top executives and with departments that develop the data financial managers need.
Most financial managers work full time and some work more than 40 hours per week.
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Financial managers typically have a bachelor's degree and 5 years or more of experience in another business or financial occupation, such as an accountant, securities sales agent, or financial analyst.
A bachelor's degree in finance, accounting, economics, or business administration is often the minimum education needed for financial managers. However, many employers now seek candidates with a master's degree, preferably in business administration, finance, accounting, or economics. These academic programs help students develop analytical skills and learn financial analysis methods and software.
Although professional certification is not required, some financial managers still get it to demonstrate a level of competence. The CFA Institute confers the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) certification to investment professionals who have at least a bachelor's degree, 4 years of work experience, and pass three exams. The Association for Financial Professionals confers the Certified Treasury Professional credential to those who pass an exam and have a minimum of 2 years of relevant experience. Certified public accountants (CPA's) are licensed by their state's board of accountancy and must pass an exam administered by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA).
In some cases, companies provide formal management training programs to help prepare highly motivated and skilled financial workers to become financial managers.
Experienced financial managers can advance to become chief financial officers (CFOs). These executives are responsible for the accuracy of an entire company's or organization's financial reporting.
Analytical skills. Financial managers increasingly are assisting executives in making decisions that affect their organization, a task that requires analytical ability.
Communication skills. Excellent communication skills are essential because financial managers must explain and justify complex financial transactions.
Detail oriented. In preparing and analyzing reports such as balance sheets and income statements, financial managers must be precise and attentive to their work in order to avoid errors.
Math skills. Financial managers must be skilled in math, including algebra. An understanding of international finance and complex financial documents also is important.
Organizational skills. Because financial managers deal with a range of information and documents, they must stay organized to do their jobs effectively.
The median annual wage for financial managers is $129,890. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $68,370, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $208,000.
The median annual wages for financial managers in the top industries in which they work are as follows:
|Professional, scientific, and technical services||$152,810|
|Management of companies and enterprises||$145,280|
|Finance and insurance||$125,600|
Most financial managers work full time and some work more than 40 hours per week.
Employment of financial managers is projected to grow 16 percent over the next ten years, much faster than the average for all occupations. However, growth will vary by industry.
Services provided by financial managers, such as planning, directing, and coordinating investments, are likely to stay in demand as the economy grows. In addition, several specialties within financial management, particularly cash management and risk management, are expected to be in high demand over the next decade.
In recent years, companies have accumulated more cash on their balance sheets, particularly among those with operations in foreign countries. As globalization continues, this trend is likely to persist. This should lead to demand for financial managers as companies will be in need of cash management expertise.
There has been an increased emphasis on risk management within the financial industry, and this trend is expected to continue. In response to both the financial crisis and financial regulatory reform, banking institutions will place a greater emphasis on stability and managing risk rather than on maximizing profits. This is expected to lead to employment growth for risk managers.
The credit intermediation and related activities' industry (which includes commercial and savings banks) employs a large percentage of financial managers. As bank customers increasingly conduct transactions online, the number of bank branches is expected to decline, which should limit employment growth in this sector. However, employment declines are expected to mainly affect clerical occupations, such as tellers, rather than financial managers. Over the next ten years, employment of financial managers is projected to grow 13 percent in this industry.
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As with other managerial occupations, jobseekers are likely to face competition because there are more applicants than job openings. Candidates with expertise in accounting and finance—particularly those with a master's degree or certification—should enjoy the best job prospects.
|Occupational Title||Employment, 2018||Projected Employment, 2028||Change, 2018-28|
A portion of the information on this page is used by permission of the U.S. Department of Labor.