If you find yourself interested in the machinations of money, there’s no career closer to the pulse than finance. Finance is literally the study of large amounts of money. Whether this has to do with the formation of a company, restructuring, navigating tax burdens and regulatory concerns, analyzing commodity prices, or insurance.
Another perk of finance jobs is there’s not a particularly high barrier to entry. A bachelor’s degree in finance, accounting, or business can get you in the door. Though individuals often specialize over time with advanced degrees in accounting, data science, finance, or MBAs.
If you’re interested in the most lucrative positions that you can obtain within the field of finance, check out the top 10 below!
Hedge Fund Manager
Hedge funds are the amalgamation of many individuals’ money used for the purpose of investing. You can think of the largest hedge funds as collections of IRAs, 401(k)’s and other retirement investments for thousands of firms or individuals. The pooling of this much wealth for investment purposes allows for a much more sophisticated range of trading techniques than a traditional investor. This amount of capital also opens up opportunities like the large scale investment in infrastructure, real estate, and fine art.
As one may expect, hedge fund managers are very well compensated for their important position. Though salaries vary, they can be upwards of $2,400,000.
Chief Executive Officer
Chief executive officers (CEOs) are mentioned on this list because there are few business-centered skill sets more translatable to looking at high level strategy within a corporate setting than finance. This is why in large corporations the chief financial officer is often second in command or “next in line” for consideration for a CEO position if the current CEO steps down or is replaced.
Chief executive officers have a wide range of salaries, from roughly $0 (with aggressive equity deals) through hundreds of millions of dollars. The average across businesses of all sizes is presently $766,000. Though many small or upstart businesses will begin with salaries much lower for CEOs.
Chief Financial Officer
Chief financial officers are tasked with perhaps the most crucial task for a company’s bottom line: ensuring pricing is proper, expenses are in check, and providing overall guidance through the lens of financial metrics. CFOs are particularly needed in the event a company goes public, or is having a range of fundraising rounds. Additionally, companies that work in a capital intensive industry benefit from chief financial officers for the proper structuring of large real estate and equipment deals.
While CFOs at the largest firms in America make millions or tens of millions of dollars a year, the average across all companies is presently $393,000.
Futures traders work in commodities markets buying and selling futures. Futures are financial instruments that provide a deal that a certain amount of a commodity can be bought or sold for a certain price at a given time. Essentially futures markets are smart betting on whether commodities like corn, rice, oil, and others will be more or less in demand and available at given points in the future.
Futures trading can take many forms. But individuals wishing to buy a seat at the commodities exchange in Chicago (potentially the largest in the world) must purchase a seat for around $300,000. This gives you a glimpse at how much money may be changing hands. While the average futures trader may only make a little more than $100,000 a year, some select futures traders make hundreds of millions or billions of dollars in this work.
Stock analysts (also known as equity analysts) typically work for firms that keep tabs on specific industries on the buying or selling side of stocks. These individuals may use advanced analytics, statistics, and data science to mine into stock equaluations and provide reports. These individuals may be commissioned by firms to look into their own pricing, or they may perform this analysis on behalf of a large bank or the public.
Stock analysts earn an average of $70,000, with more senior individuals making well over $100,000 a year.
Finance managers typically work in firms large enough to have an entire organizational branch under a chief financial officer. Alternatively, these individuals may work in a investment banking setting or in conjunction with law firms if they are in the business of helping external entities with finance. These individuals typically manage an interdisciplinary team of analysts, legal individuals, accounting and more to support finance objectives within their organization.
The average annual earnings for finance managers are presently $129,000.
Investment bankers help to gain investors for private or governmental fundraising efforts. These individuals may help a corporation to structure how they are going to go public or offer stock. They may work in helping to provide valuation for companies. Additionally, they may focus on organizations going through a merger or an acquisition. Due to this skill set, investment bankers have also found very lucrative work in looking at the valuations of already publicly listed companies and making investment decisions for large hedge funds.
The average salary of an investment banker is presently $120,000 a year. Senior investment bankers can make substantially more.
Mergers and Acquisition Analyst
Mergers between two organizations as well as the acquisition of one entire company by another are some of the largest financial transactions that occur. These dealings are typically a maze of governmental and regulatory red tape, tax repercussions, and expose the need to restructure assets at a massive scale. As such, merger and acquisition agreements require extensive analysis and experience. Mergers and acquisitions analysts do just this. Often as part of a team under a M&A finance manager.
The average salary of a mergers and acquisition analyst is presently around $90,000.
Consultant is one of the broadest categories of business jobs. This title can mean many things. But typically it means one of two things, both of which can be quite lucrative. The first option for getting into consulting is to join a large consulting firm. Firms like Mckinsey hire grads from top undergraduate and MBA programs to help large organizations solve their business problems. Essentially large organizations (including governments) will reach out, and a team of consultants will do research from an outside perspective to provide a suggested path as well as analysis. Secondarily, some individuals build up a great deal of experience in a given field. After their acclaim has grown, they are able to bill for consulting with other organizations and individuals within that same field. The field in question can be literally anything, from paper products to software.
The range of pay for consultants varies considerably. Among the top consulting firms in the nation analysts may make several $100,000 a year.
Information Technology Auditor
These days finances and technology are inextricably intertwined. Where financial audits of the past were mired in libraries worth of paperwork, today the “paper trail” is likelier to be in the digital world. Much as more traditional auditors, these individuals may work for the government or private industry. For the government, auditors work to determine wrong doing, particularly as it relates to taxation. Within the private realm, auditors may preliminarily investigate their own organization to determine the amount of risk of an audit. Additionally, if an audit is ever called on a private organization, a private auditor may perform their own investigation to be used to contest the governments investigation.
The average salary of an information technology auditor is presently around $100,000.