In response to the financial crisis of 2008, many firms restructured operations to address issues with regulatory compliance and transparency. Financial services firms were forced to reaffirm their expertise in regulation management and risk assessment within the new regulatory and cultural environment of the financial services industry.
MBA enrollment was up in 2012 for professionals in manufacturing, real estate, and technology, but lower than usual for financial professionals. However, an MBA is still an advantage for senior financial services jobs. This is particularly true in the areas of senior finance and analys is. Universities reported an increase in MBA job postings in the financial services industry, but a decrease in enrollment in MBA programs with a finance concentration in 2013, which could contribute to an increase in demand for MBA-prepared financial services professionals as fewer enter the job market.
The financial services industry makes up the largest industry in the world when measured through earnings and market equity. However, the fragmentation of the industry means the largest players have relatively low market share compared with other less fragmented industries.
With so many firms and so many specialties, the financial services industry offers some of the most diverse career options of any industry. As the market recovers from the devastation of 2008’s financial crisis, many firms are showing slow and purposeful growth and are looking for internal resources even more than client-facing professionals. Areas of need have been identified to include financial analysis and business systems analysis, as well as regulatory compliance.
Financial Services Jobs for MBA-prepared Professionals
Senior Financial Analysts identify trends in financial data such as expenses, earnings, and business cycles. They offer advice that assists companies in making investment and expense decisions. Communication skills are extremely important in this role, particularly the ability to communicate financial reports in writing and presentations. An MBA indicates not only business savvy and analysis expertise, but also the necessary communication skills to contribute to the business.
Business Systems Analysts work within an organization to gather performance data and recognize gaps in knowledge and operational efficiency. Business analysts are expected to understand the financial structure of the organization as well as the technology being used to conduct transactions. Companies continue to update IT infrastructure and need professional business systems analysts to oversee design improvements and to communicate business needs.
Regulatory Compliance Officers are financial systems experts who are also experts on the regulations governing business operations. Compliance officers are able to observe and analyze operations, identify possible infractions before they occur, and educate the business on how to operate within regulatory guidelines.
The Benefit of Professional Certification
Professional certifications communicate expertise in specific subjects. Holding certification indicates a financial professional has learned specific operations, rules, or functions and that the holder is competent to perform in particular roles.
Certifications are usually available to those who have satisfied minimum education and experience requirements, which often includes a master’s degree or MBA. In many instances, industry-specific graduate degrees can take the place of years of experience when it comes to meeting the qualifications for certification.
As reported in the 2013 Robert Half Salary Guide, the most sought-after financial services certifications include Certified Public Accountant (CPA) designations as well as technology-specific certifications like Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA) for those with knowledge of proprietary enterprise resource-planning software. Other certifications identified as being in high demand include:
- Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA)
- Certified Internal Auditor (CIA)
- Certified Management Accountant (CMA)
- Certified Payroll Professional (CPP)
Salary Expectations for MBA-Prepared Finance Professionals
Financial services salaries for MBA-prepared performance analysts in fund management operations can be expected to average $266,000 for sell-side manager positions. Sell-side associates, supervisors, and executives out-earn buy-side counterparts by about 50%.
The combination of experience and education determine a candidate’s salary, however, MBA-prepared financial professionals can expect entry-level salaries around 20% higher than baccalaureate-prepared candidates.
More than 60% of senior financial analysts have a master’s degree. The mean salary for senior financial analysts is upwards of $75,000 with bonuses adding another 8-10% to those annual earnings.