Work in Asset Management

Asset management is the act of monitoring and maintaining the assets of an organization or individual. Financial planners and managers may work in an organization controlling and directing the assets of the employer company, or in a firm that controls and directs the assets of outside clients. Keep in mind that the most coveted, high-paying jobs are extremely competitive, requiring advanced degrees, excellent grades, unique skills, and a willingness to work in a high-stress, long-hours position.


Pursuing Your Education

  1. Pursue a bachelor's degree. An undergraduate degree in finance, business, or economics is recommended for a career in asset management, although it is not necessary.[1] However, you will need a strong knowledge of accounting and statistics. You can obtain a degree from an accredited online college, a community college, or a university.
    • A large part of working in asset management is being able to read spreadsheets and earning reports. That qualifies as quantitative skills. You will also need to develop analytical skills, which means understanding the numbers, crunching them, and turning them into financial models and projections.
    • Classes in statistics and accounting help develop these skills.
  2. Obtain a graduate degree. Work towards a master's degree in finance. A master's degree in finance improves your opportunities for employment in asset management. Employers prefer candidates with a graduate level degree, and a graduate degree will increase your chances of having a higher salary one day.
    • The graduate degree program should provide the student with an education in financial analysis.
    • Some of the top banks and asset management firms in the world ask for applicants to have global skills. Global skills include a willingness to work abroad, knowing another language, and having international experience. The preferred second language depends on the firm or bank you apply to.[2]
    • Take a language class to develop your linguistic skills.
    • If you can, travel abroad. Firms prefer applicants that have experience with other cultures.
  3. Gain experience through internships.[3] Search for financial planning or banking internships to gain experience. Most jobs for non-college graduates are entry level and don't provide much experience. An internship with a prestigious firm in the finance industry, however, is a major plus on a resume and begins to build a professional network. Banking and work in an investment firm can provide the individual with the necessary skills to monitor and manage a client's portfolio of assets.
    • Be a quick learner. Some of the learning skills that firms and banks value include broad-mindedness, grasping and learn new concepts quickly, and intellectual curiosity. These qualities can be put to use in a job for meeting new clients, managing a task, and assimilating new information and data.[4]
    • Before an interview, think of times where you have demonstrated your intellectual ability in practical situations.
    • Ask a teacher or professor for advice about where to apply for internships.
  4. Pursue management training programs. Investment or asset management firms may offer promising employees an opportunity to complete a management training program. This can lead to advanced positions. Use online job boards, classified advertisements, and professional recruiters to find positions in finance.
    • Management training programs are a good opportunity for those without a graduate level education. An employee with an undergraduate degree in finance or business can advance in an asset management firm by excelling in the company training program.
    • Training programs in an investment company provide the employee with an education in the methods and techniques the investment firm uses with clients.
    • Working in any type of career dealing with finances in highly stressful. Firms value employees that show resilience under pressure. A quality of a resilient person is one that sees a setback as a challenge.[5] Think of a specific situation that you have shown resilience under pressure before an interview.
  5. Attain professional credentials.[6] Professional credentials offered by professional finance associations can improve the opportunities available in asset management and are sometimes better than advanced degrees. Candidates must meet eligibility requirements and pass examinations to obtain the professional credentials. For example, the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) credential offered by the CFAI requires the candidate to meet education and experience requirements to qualify to take three examinations. Other certifications include:
    • Certified Financial Planner® (CFP®) — This certification shows that you are competent in all areas of financial planning, including stocks, bonds, taxes, insurance, retirement planning and estate planning. You will need to pass an exam administered by the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards Inc., in addition to completing three years full time work experience (6,000 hours) or two-year apprenticeship experience (4,000 hours), and agreeing to the CFP Board's Code of Ethics and Professional Responsibility and Financial Planning Standards.[7]
    • Chartered Investment Counselor (CIC) — If you are a CFA, you can work toward this certification, which focuses on portfolio management. You must work in an eligible position for an Investment Adviser Association firm, agree to the code of conduct, and submit character and professional references. A CIC must be recertified every year.[8] CICs often manage large accounts and mutual funds.
    • Certified Investment Management Analyst (CIMA) — If you are an investment consultant with at least three years of experience, you can apply for this certification. You will take courses through the Investment Management Consultants Association to earn a CIMA certification. You must complete 40 hours of continuing education every two years to recertify.[9]

Starting Your Career

  1. Understand different career paths. There are many career tracks you can go choose in asset management. Your prior experience and education may dictate what job you end up with, but try to follow the career path that interests you the most. There are many career tracks, with a great deal of overlap, such as:
    • Analysts: You will generally work in a specific industry and may buy, hold and sell recommendations of specific companies. Analysts can also watch specific commodities such as a currency, grains, metals, etc. Some analysts are technicians while others rely on security fundamentals. You can be a research analyst, buy-side analyst, sell-side analyst, quantitative analyst, or a junior analyst.
    • Portfolio Manager: This is a high-ranking position in which you will select an individual's or a company's portfolio of investments to bring them the highest rate of return. You will need to have knowledge about how to choose the right investments and how to predict future earnings.
    • Private Banker: Private bankers offer the services of a portfolio manager to a select group of wealthy customers. To be a private banker, you need multiple degrees and years of experience.
    • Financial Adviser: Financial advisers attract clients and sell them investments. You would help people manage their wealth and savings. You can work independently or for a large firm, in which case you would sell the firm's products.
    • Fund Accountant: This position determines the price that people will pay for mutual funds based on the value that you will calculate.You will track how much people earn off of the securities, their closing prices, and customer withdrawals. The job usually requires an accounting degree.
    • Registered Representative Assistant: This position usually requires you to perform the administrative duties for a stockbroker, like handling reporting and calling to confirm trades. This job is a good way to learn about the business and eventually move up the career ladder and does not require a college degree, as this work is primarily administrative.
    • Registered Representative: This job requires you to obtain new clients and sell them products, such as life insurance and real estate. With this job, you will advise clients on how to use their wealth intelligently. This role includes financial advisers, who must register with the SEC and must conform to certain rules and manages a portfolio of securities. Registered Representatives rarely have discretion, but make recommendations which the client may or may not follow.
  2. Search for a position. Look for a position in your chosen field. Candidates with the appropriate finance education and experience in the finance industry can search for positions as an asset manager or in an asset management firm. Search for firms hiring for your level of experience.
    • Practically speaking, no recent college graduate is likely to be hired as an asset manager, more likely an analyst. Note that positions with major investment firms are very competitive
    • Job seekers can network with finance professionals to find asset management positions. This is the time to begin building a "rolodex" of professional contacts that will be expanded throughout a career. Social professional connections are one of the most important assets a job candidate can have.
    • Try joining websites like LinkedIn . LinkedIn can give you connections and career opportunities.
    • The best place to start looking is through your college placement officer and social network. Search firms or recruiters rarely represent a beginner, as starting salary is too low and it is easy to find candidates for any open position.
  3. Accept a job position. Don’t be disappointed if you do not get the job you are hoping for at first. If you are happy with the company, don’t rule out jobs in marketing, sales, or as a research analyst. Accepting jobs in other departments may give you an advantage over external applicants that apply for a higher position later on.
    • It may be difficult to work in a position that feels beneath you or not quite right, but try to keep in mind that everyone in higher positions had to start somewhere.
  4. Stand out amongst the rest. Typically, you will have to work in a lower level position for two years before being considered for a management position. Earning your CFA or MBA will give you an initial boost to stand out. Think of ways specific to your job to stand out. If you deal with customers on a daily basis, show them outstanding customer service. If you have to meet a monthly sales goal, try to go beyond that goal.
    • Always be willing to help colleagues and your boss.
    • Offer to do errands or jobs that seem beneath you, like running to get lunch or coffee.
    • Be assertive and demonstrate your skills. Don’t be overbearing, but don’t be afraid to show your potential.

Furthering Your Career

  1. Take every opportunity. Don’t be too apprehensive to make a career move. If you are offered a better job or a job in a different department, don’t be afraid to take it. Sometimes a career move can be risky, but it can be an opportunity to become more successful. Be sure to do your research about a job offer before accepting it.
    • Assess the pros and cons before moving to another job. Most firms do not allow you to take all of your clients’ information with you. This is especially true of registered representatives. In many cases, the employee is bound with a non-compete agreement, specially a non-solicitation period of those clients with whom you previously worked.
    • Don’t be afraid to fail. You may get fired, or make the wrong career move, but understand that it happens to everyone. Take failure as a lesson for growth. Don’t let it hold you back.
  2. Stay creative. One way to get ahead is to think differently than everyone else. Asset management may not seem like a creative career, but there are many opportunities to utilize creativity. Make a business move, or take a chance that may not be obvious to others.[10]
    • Be confident in your decision before making an unconventional business move, and get approval from your boss if necessary.
    • If you are a financial adviser, think of fresh and creative ways to invest in order to maximize your customer’s wealth.
    • Promote your industry in creative and appropriate ways that are outside the realms of typical promotion and advertising.
    • If you are in research, take time to research and write out new strategies and ways to approach whatever research you are working on.
  3. Continue your education. Every industry grows and changes over time, even if you are in a management position. Keep updated on certifications and continue to take courses if new technologies and methods are introduced in asset management. Stay up-to-date at any point in your career will help you stay relevant and more marketable on the job market.[11]
    • Stay up-to-date with new technology. New software that allows you to view your clients’ investments in real time has been introduced in recent years. Learn about new softwares as soon as you can.
    • Look up or subscribe to news that pertains to your career path.
    • Occasionally look up course material in your area of work, and see if the content that is taught has changed or been updated.
  4. Become an entrepreneur. Once you are further along in your career, it is an option to start your own private asset management company. Being an entrepreneur is a great way to have the freedom and control that you would not normally have. Make sure you have the proper qualifications before taking this step. You will not be able to take all of your customer information from your old company when opening a business, so be sure to know what information you’re allowed to leave with when you cut ties with your company.
    • You will need at least a municipal license and other certification specific to your company type to open a business.
    • You may benefit from taking classes in subjects such as management, computer, and marketing before opening your own business.
    • You can choose to operate your business under an independent brokerage firm, which will allow you to start your own business within their network.[12]


  • Be sure that you are aware of your duties in an asset management job. Expecting a job to be easier or harder than it really is can damage motivation and ambition.
  • Consider your work as a constant job interview.
  • Be grateful for any job opportunity in the asset management at first. Feeling that you are too good for a position will prevent you from getting ahead in the long run.
  • Most candidates entering the finance industry will be hired as either registered representatives with a career path to CEO or analyst trainees who become industry analysts, portfolio managers, or traders.


  • It is good to be ambitious and assertive, but be sure to not act inappropriately. It is important to stay professional. Expectations of behavior will depend on the job position and company.
  • Never stay at a job where you are being treated unfairly. Being demeaned or abused is not worth staying at a good company or job position.
  • This type of job requires long hours and a great deal of stress. Burnout is common, and the culture is extremely competitive. If you don't thrive in this type of culture, this may not be the job for you.

Related Articles