If you’re interested in the economy and big data, have an inquisitive and analytical mindset, and already have a bachelor’s degree—and maybe a well-worn copy of A Random Walk Down Wall Street—under your belt, you may be considering heading back to school to pursue a master’s degree in financial analytics.
If so, you’re in good company. As the world becomes smarter, the field of money management is shifting rapidly away from an era when finance departments were solely responsible for bookkeeping and sweating transactions.
Today, the ability to compete is increasingly driven by how well a business can leverage data, apply analytics, and implement new planning and visualization technologies to make business decisions and predict and plan for the future. The International Institute for Analytics notes that, in 2020, businesses using data will see an extra $430 billion in productivity benefits over competitors who are not using data.
At the same time, the digitization of data and the subsequent use of analytics software has brought forth a new set of problems. Individuals in the field need to be well-versed in not only in data science technologies, but also their constant advancement. In fact, according to a 2017 BCG study, the financial services sector trails most industries when it comes to successfully generating value and actionable insights from data analytics.
A master’s degree in financial analytics won’t just set you apart from others in the job market, but open doors to advanced roles in your finance career—and maintain a competitive edge in a marketplace that increasingly looks to grab a slice of the analytics-driven pie. Not to mention, it may be your ticket to a lucrative career.
In this article, we’ll cover:
A master’s in financial analytics is a graduate degree program that aims to provide students with deep and broad exposure to the field while incorporating general management subjects. Typically, students pursue this degree to start or advance a career in the financial realm of business. Those seeking greater independence might seek out consultants or contracting positions at one or a range of companies.
This degree path not only builds on students’ understanding of finance and applied data analytics, but it also enhances their ability to think about data from both a statistical and machine learning perspective. It also packs in a healthy dose of programming and data modeling to help students navigate the real-world transactional systems that inform decision-making at health insurers and investment groups to banks, auction houses, and pension funds.
Financial analytics programs involve a substantial amount of coursework covering advanced concepts in corporate finance, accounting, and economics. Additional coursework may also include:
When searching for programs, students may come across programs at a university’s business school or one focused on research and technology. These degrees tend to vary in terms of a specific title, including the standard master of science (MS) track as well as dual programs that encompass additional training in business analytics. They include:
The ability to leverage data from an array of sources, create easy-to-use dashboards and visualization tools, and predict future returns means that financial analytics master’s degree holders are well-equipped to help ensure the financial health of a wide assortment of organizations. Here are a few positions they may pursue in the field, listed by average base pay.
Financial advisors use their industry knowledge and expertise to construct personalized financial plans that aim to achieve their clients’ financial goals. Whether drafted for individuals or organizations, these plans involve researching various investment opportunities and allocating assets to a diverse grouping of investments like stocks, bonds, or real estate. From here, they’ll continue to analyze market conditions to ensure their clients’ plans continue to be the best course of action to achieve their financial goals.
Some financial risk analysts are employed by banks and investment firms, while others may work as consultants who move from one business to the next. No matter their employer, they’re responsible for evaluating factors like financial documents, economic conditions, and potential clients to help companies determine the level of risk involved in making a particular investment. These may also make recommendations on investment strategies and participate in investment reviews.
Though financial analysts are likely most known as professional number crunchers, they’re responsible for researching economic conditions along with a company’s financial standing to make to predict their organization’s next investment. To do so, they’ll need to stay up-to-date on trends in the field in which they specialize and preparing financial models to predict future economic conditions based on variables like businesses, sectors, industries, and even specific marketing techniques.
Financial analytics managers apply strategies and implement tools to help companies translate raw data into useful business information. Although advanced knowledge in database systems and programming languages may is crucial to this role, its primary focus is on providing direction for their organization’s data science or finance team. They’re also responsible for building their team, making hiring decisions and deciding where each member’s skills will prove most effective.
Chief analytics officers (CAO) oversee a range of data-related functions that may include data management, ensuring data quality, and creating data strategy. In the financial realm, they may also be responsible for supervising data analytics and business intelligence processes that guarantee that their company meets industry regulatory requirements. Once that’s complete, they may use their findings to inform their firm’s efforts to improve its relationships with customers, deliver more efficient campaigns, or target an audience more efficiently.
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