How Do I Get Started with a Career in Asset Management?

The asset management industry has a number of career paths. Some require an advanced degree and one or more financial certifications. Here are the common paths that can take you to a job as a mutual fund manager, an analyst, or a financial advisor.

Asset Management for a Mutual Fund or Wall Street Firm

If your goal is to be a portfolio manager for a mutual fund company or a prestigious Wall Street firm, a degree in finance or economics from an Ivy League or other top-tier institution is a good start. These firms are selective and generally only hire the most promising graduates.

Key Takeaways

  • The Wall Street firms are the toughest to break into. An Ivy League degree helps.
  • Banks hire asset managers. You might start out as an analyst and work your way up.
  • If you pass the required exams, you can work for a financial advisor or start your own firm.

If you've already got an undergraduate degree and are working, consider going back to school to earn a master's in business administration (MBA) with a concentration in finance. This is particularly important if your undergraduate degree is not in business.

Even after you are hired, you may be expected to pursue advanced certifications such as the chartered financial analyst (CFA) certification. They will open up new opportunities and help you advance in your career.

Asset Management for a Local Bank or Lower-Tier Fund

If you're happy not playing in the big leagues, or New York City doesn't appeal to you, you may be able to land a job as an analyst at a local bank trust company or a lower-tier mutual fund.

You may be able to get a starting-level position without getting an expensive degree. Over time, you could advance to a true portfolio manager position.

This pathway offers an opportunity to learn the industry and see if it's a good fit. If you perform well, this type of company may even assist you in obtaining further education or certifications as they become necessary.

Set Up Shop as a Financial Advisor

If you're willing to study and pass the required securities examinations, you can work as a financial advisor or go to work for an established advisor.

To work as a financial advisor, you need a license, and that means passing the FINRA Series 6 exam.

To offer your services as a financial advisor, you need to pass the Series 6 exam from Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA). Also known as the Investment Company and Variable Contracts Products Representative exam, it gets you a license to sell mutual funds, premiums, variable annuities, and variable life insurance. This is one of several FINRA exams that qualify you to sell various types of financial products.

This path requires you to sell yourself to bring in new clients and increase the amount of assets under your management. Further certifications are not required but they would enhance your reputation with your clients.

Article Sources
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  1. CFA Institute. "CFA Program."

  2. Financial Industry Regulatory Authority. "Series 6—Investment Company and Variable Contracts Products Representative Exam."

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