Should I double major in economics and finance?
I am currently a freshman in college and one of my professors suggested a double major in economics and finance since I hope to pursue investments. I would one day like to work in Wall Street and I have been investing since I was young. What do financial companies look for in college graduates? Would economics and finance be a good combination or is there a better option?
Having classes in Economics and Finance will provide you knowledge and a starting point for a career in the financial industry. You may want to give consideration to having either of those as a Minor in order to devote time to Mathematics. The ability to use numbers efficiently will help you as you consider either a position working with individuals or small business owners (and work towards a CFP or some similar designation) or as an analyst (often workings towards becoming a CFA). The efficient use of computers (and possibly a basic programming course) would help as well. I've spent 20 years in the industry working as a CFP and CMT and the classes I took in Economics, Computer Science, and Mathematics have added more value to my impact on helping clients over any other areas. Another suggestion is to read as many personal finance books as you can while understanding how the courses you take in school will apply to real world situations. There is no subsitute for real world experience. But getting this background should prepare you well for a career on Wall Street.
I have a son who is a freshman in college like you. I've had this discussion with him, and friends of his who will listen.
You're clearly passionate about investing and probably know as much about it as you need to know in order to get your first job. So major in something that interests you. Learn new things. Education is not about making money, it's about fulfillment and equipping you with the tools to be an interesting and happy person. After all, you'd like to make friends who aren't numbercrunchers, wouldn't you?
I would be a little reluctant to hire someone right out of college who had been a financial drone for four years (like you will be if you take your professor's advice). I'd rather hire someone who can think creatively and apply lessons from a wide variety of disciplines. A successful investor is a person who can spot value where most people don't see it -- so if you spend your life with your nose in a spreadsheet, and have too few intellectual tools to see outside the box, you won't rise above the crowd.
You can (and should) take electives in the finance department, so you can become more fluent in the language that we all speak. But then follow your star -- take courses in art, literature, history, classics, international politics, etc., etc. It's amazing to me how much I use my nonfinancial education every day.
I don't think it matters much. Unless you're from a top tier school it is hard to get in 'Wall Street' as you call it. I don't think it would hurt to have the double major, but most importantly try to read and understand what is the value that you're creating. Will you be good at sales, research or what?
In this country there's a huge need for helping others with financial matters, but not sure that a Wall Street career will help you with that. Try to understand what exactly you'll be doing and what value that adds not just to you, but others as well. If you add value to others, you'll get much more in return.
Personally, I seek college graduates with a good attitude and strong work ethic. The actual degree(s) earned is interesting, but not critical. Skills necessary for success in any field include communications, empathy, energy, and perseverance. A college degree demonstrates both energy and perseverance, and that is true for almost any subject matter. Perhaps a dual degree demonstrates that even further with economics and finance being pretty impressive. If that’s what you love, then do it! But I’d probably be just as impressed with Sociology/Marketing or English Literature/Accounting or even Theater/Media. But that’s just me and I don't work on Wall Street.