A career in corporate finance means you would work for a company to help it find money to run the business, grow the business, make acquisitions, plan for it's financial future and manage any cash on hand. You might work for a large multinational company or a smaller player. Responsibility can come fast and your problem-solving skills are crucial. A career in corporate finance will include assessing financial markets; preparing industry analyses; preparing and reviewing budgets and business plans; providing financial research services and implementing any decisions taken in order to manage capital structure; gathering, analyzing, and summarizing pertinent treasury information; implementing borrowing decisions; participating in corporate and project financing; preparing management reports regarding financial performance as well as financial market performance; etc.
Financial planners help individuals plan their financial futures. A good financial planner understands investments, taxes, estate planning issues, and knows how to listen. This work can be done within a company, such as IDS Financial Services, or by yourself, as a sole proprietorship. It has become increasingly important to obtain the CFP (Certified Financial Planner) designation.
Insurance is a trillion dollar business that employs more than 2.5 million people in the United States alone. It is one of the hottest jobs in finance. Jobs in insurance involve helping individuals and business manage risk to protect themselves from losses and to anticipate potential risk problems. You could work in a variety of areas in insurance including as an underwriter, a sales representative, an asset manager, a customer service rep, or an actuary.
Investment banks help companies and governments issue securities, help investors purchase securities, manage financial assets, trade securities, and provide financial advice. Some of the leading investment banks are Merrill Lynch, Salomon Smith Barney, Morgan Stanley Dean Witter, and Goldman Sachs. Other investment banks are regionally oriented. Some are small specialized firms which might be deal exclusively with bond-trading, M&A advisory, technical analysis, or program trading. In most firms there is a sales and trading area which works with owners of securities, investment banking which works with issuers of securities (firms and governments), and capital markets which goes in between the other two.
Money managers hold stocks and bonds for institutional clients and are on the buy side of Wall Street. Each money manager has their own unique style. Some use the latest sophisticated quantitative techniques while others do very well using simple intuition. The key to being successful is to have discipline, be broad-minded, and be willing to admit defeat if an investment goes against you. Many money managers buy and hold fixed income securities including mortgaged-backs, corporate bonds, munis, agency securities, and asset-backed securities. Others focus on equities, including small stocks, large caps, and emerging market stocks. A good place to start a career as a money manager is in a bank trust department, state and local pension funds, or in insurance companies. A definite asset would be the CFA (Certified Financial Analyst) designation.
There are more than 5 million people in the United States employed in identifiable real estate fields such as title insurance, construction, mortgage banking, property management, appraisal, brokerage and leasing, and real estate development. Over one-third of the world's wealth is tied up in real estate. Real estate professionals are tied to the development of our society in a very direct way and participate in decisions that will shape the way we live for centuries.