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MBA Finance Job Description

Financial jobs can be broken down into those that take place within a corporate organization (often called corporate or company finance) and those whose setting is a particular financial institution, such as with an investment bank. The array of job possibilities within financial institutions is extremely broad, thus the below areas outline the major career options within each arena.

Corporate/Company Finance

The structure of finance within a corporation consists of internal finance (controllership) and external finance (treasury) activities. Jobs concerned with the collection, measurement, and evaluation of financial data generated from internal operations are typically placed under the controller's supervision. An organization's relations with financial markets and institutions are often grouped under the supervision of the treasurer, including management of bank lines and other credit facilities, communication with shareholders, and oversight of offshore financing arrangements. In many companies, strategic and long-range planning has considerable finance content and may also report to the Chief Financial Officer. Duties of a finance job in a corporate organization can vary widely, but commonly involve financial planning, raising funds, cash management, and acquiring and disposing of assets. Analysts determine financing needs, analyze competitors, implement financial plans, monitor the company's securities and manage financial risk.

Investment Banking - Corporate Finance

 Investment banking associates in corporate finance serve the sellers of securities, either Fortune 1000 companies that are looking to raise cash to fund growth, or frequently, private companies that are looking to go public. Corporate finance bankers are financial consultants to corporations, advising companies on how to finance their operations, structure their balance sheets, move ahead with plans to sell or acquire a portion of the company. Activities can range from providing pure financial advice to implementing the sale of a new stock or equity issue. As a result, industry or product knowledge is key, and many investment banks divide the corporate finance department into specialty sub-groups such as energy, high tech, oil and gas, pulp and paper, and telecommunications. The corporate finance group will do any and all of the following:

  • Underwrite equity offerings - buy shares for sale from the corporation or government entity and then sell them on the market to investors.
  • Underwrite fixed income (debt/bond) offerings.
  • Help firms analyze their financial needs.
  • Help firms devise and implement financial strategies, such as what foreign currency exposure to have and when and how to proceed with funding initiatives.
  • Determine valuations for offerings.

Investment Banking - Sales & Trading

 Sales and trading is the investment bank's distribution arm. This group is responsible for selling all of the financial products (stocks, bonds, and their derivatives) developed by the investment banking area. As such, they serve as the vital link between the sellers (corporations, government entities) and the buyers (investors). Although frequently lumped together, sales people and traders perform different functions. Sales professionals have a list of institutional clients whom they serve by making them aware of new offerings, advising them on how to manage their portfolios and selling them financial products. The sales department can be divided by account size, security type (debt or equity), geography, or product line.

Sales people:

  • Develop strong relationships with institutional investors.
  • Meet with equity research departments and discuss economic trends and their impact on the markets.
  • Work closely with the Investment Banking department to market new debt and equity issues.
  • Advise clients in developing and executing investment strategies.
  • Watch company/industry/economic/political news and market activity and advise clients about the likely impact on their portfolios.

  • Develop a solid knowledge of market, company, and industry information.
  • Make markets by maintaining a position in a stock their firm has underwritten, quote bid and ask prices, and buy and sell at those prices.
  • Put major trades together by negotiating with salesperson/clients and other dealers.
  • Perform valuation analysis of derivatives, convertibles, or baskets of stocks.
  • Manage the firm's risk versus the market.
  • Traders are responsible for taking positions on the market through purchases and sales of stocks and equities. During market hours, traders must be able to juggle a number of tasks at once in the high-stress environment of a trading floor.

Investment Banking - Private Client Services

 Responsibilities involve putting together integrated packages of investments and financial services for your clients. Generally, these clients are high-net-worth individuals. Specific tasks can include estate planning, tax planning and investment strategies. Your actual recommendations will depend upon your client's risk preferences, need for income and desire for involvement in portfolio management.

Investment Banking - Research

 Responsibilities involve providing critical analytical support to investment banking, sales and trading activities. Research involves quantitative research (pricing models), economic research (interest rates), and individual company research. Research is responsible for maintaining long-term relationships with corporate clients long after the deals are done. Researchers meet regularly with company management, analyze the company's position relative to competitors, and provide recommendations about the company's stock to investors, plus sales and trading.

Activities include:

  • Meeting with company management and analyzing the company's financial statements and operations.
  • Providing written and oral updates on market trends and company analysis to sales and traders.
  • Attending or organizing industry conferences.
  • Speaking with sales people, traders, and investment bankers about company or industry trends and recommending positions on the stock.
  • Developing proprietary pricing models for financial products.
  • Making presentations to clients on relevant market trends and offering investment recommendations.
  • Analyzing economic data and making forecasts.

Asset Management

Asset managers manage money for individuals and institutions. Generally, they convert that money into assets-stocks, bonds, derivatives, and other types of investments-and try to make that money grow as fast as possible. Mutual fund companies, banks and corporations hire asset managers to invest people's money wisely and profitably. Asset managers use a combination of investment theory, quantitative tools, market experience, research, and plain dumb luck to pick investments for their portfolios, ranging from high-risk stocks to commercial real estate to cash accounts.

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