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Finance is the practical application of economics.  The financial system is the means by which an economy allocates money to its highest valued use.  Simply put, it is how people, businesses, and governments raise the cash needed to conduct business. 

The goal of any financial system is to make sure that those with good ideas get the money necessary to implement the ideas.  How this is accomplished in a market-based economy is through the stock and bond markets.

Andrew talks about his role in the finance department at Heinz:

Career Fields

Corporate and Public Finance

  • Financial analysis
  • Cash management
  • Credit management
  • Budget analysis
  • Investment management
  • Investor relations
  • Financial reporting
  • Risk management
  • Payroll
  • Benefits
  • Real estate

Strategies: Complete a related internship. Develop strong computer skills, including spreadsheets, databases, and presentation software. Sharp analytical skills are crucial in this industry. Earn an MBA to reach the highest levels of corporate finance.


  • Corporate credit analysis
  • Commercial lending
  • Trust management
  • Capital services
  • Mergers & acquisitions
  • Mortgage loans
  • Originations and packaging
  • Branch management
  • Operations
  • Cash management
  • Credit scoring/Risk management
  • Private banking

Strategies: Develop a solid background in business including marketing and accounting. Gain experience through part-time, summer or internship positions in a financial services firm. Develop strong interpersonal and communication skills in order to work well with a diverse clientele.


  • Claims analysis
  • Underwriting
  • Risk management
  • Sales
  • Actuarial science
  • Loss control

Strategies: Complete an internship with an insurance agency. Talk to professionals in the industry to learn more about claims, underwriting, and risk management.

Many good, entry-level positions exist in these areas. Initiative and sales ability are necessary to be a successful agent or broker. Develop strong communication skills, as many positions require interaction with others and the ability to explain information clearly and concisely. Take additional statistics classes to prepare for a career in actuary science. Prepare to take the first in a series of actuarial examinations.

Personal Financial Planning

  • Sales
  • Customer service
  • Operations
  • Portfolio management

Strategies: Gain experience in sales. Demonstrate a highly motivated and entrepreneurial personality. Research how one obtains the Certified Financial Planner (CFP) designation. Develop a solid personal network.

Real Estate

  • Residential brokerage
  • Commercial sales
  • Appraisals
  • Property management
  • Real estate portfolio management

Strategies: Obtain sales experience through part-time, summer or internship positions. Research how to become a real estate broker through the National Association of Realtors. Develop an entrepreneurial spirit. Research apprenticeships in appraisal.

Investment Banking

  • Corporate financial analysis
  • Mergers & acquisitions
  • Business sale transactions
  • Currency trading/Trading
  • Business valuation
  • Underwriting
  • Equity and debt
  • New venture analysis


  • Derivatives, e.g. options
  • Retail bond and equity sales
  • Institutional bond and equity sales
  • Venture capital fund management

Strategies: An M.B.A. is required to move beyond the entry-level analyst position in investment banking. Investment banking is highly competitive. Be prepared to work many hours of overtime per week, start at the bottom, and pay your dues. Develop strong analytical and communication skills. Cultivate personal ambitiousness. Obtain a Series 7 License for both institutional and retail broker sales positions. Work toward the CFA designation.

Money Management

  • Research
  • Trading
  • Marketing
  • Portfolio management

Strategies: Most positions require an advanced degree in economics, finance or business and many years of financial experience.