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Financial Managers

Career, Salary and Education Information

What They Do: Financial managers produce financial reports, direct investment activities, and develop strategies and plans for the long-term financial goals of their organization.

Work Environment: Financial managers work in many industries, including banks and insurance companies. Most financial managers work full time and some work more than 40 hours per week.

How to Become One: Financial managers typically have a bachelor’s degree and 5 years or more of experience in another business or financial occupation, such as an accountant, auditor, securities sales agent, or financial analyst.

Salary: The median annual wage for financial managers is $131,710.

Job Outlook: Employment of financial managers is projected to grow 17 percent over the next ten years, much faster than the average for all occupations.

Related Careers: Compare the job duties, education, job growth, and pay of financial managers with similar occupations.

What Financial Managers Do[About this section] [To Top]

Financial managers are responsible for the financial health of an organization. They produce financial reports, direct investment activities, and develop strategies and plans for the long-term financial goals of their organization.

Duties of Financial Managers

Financial managers typically do the following:

  • Prepare financial statements, business activity reports, and forecasts
  • Monitor financial details to ensure that legal requirements are met
  • Supervise employees who do financial reporting and budgeting
  • Review company financial reports and seek ways to reduce costs
  • Analyze market trends to maximize profits and find expansion opportunities
  • Help management make financial decisions

The role of the financial manager, particularly in business, is changing in response to technological advances that have substantially reduced the amount of time it takes to produce financial reports. Financial managers' main responsibility used to be monitoring a company's finances, but they now do more data analysis and advise senior managers on ways to maximize profits. They often work on teams, acting as business advisors to top executives.

Financial managers also do tasks that are specific to their organization or industry. For example, government financial managers must be experts on government appropriations and budgeting processes, and healthcare financial managers must know about topics in healthcare finance. Moreover, financial managers must be knowledgeable about special tax laws and regulations that affect their industry.

The following are examples of types of financial managers:

Controllers direct the preparation of financial reports that summarize and forecast the organization's financial position, such as income statements, balance sheets, and analyses of future earnings or expenses. Controllers also are in charge of preparing special reports required by governmental agencies that regulate businesses. Often, controllers oversee the accounting, audit, and budget departments of their organization.

Treasurers and finance officers direct their organization's budgets to meet its financial goals. They oversee the investment of funds and carry out strategies to raise capital (such as issuing stocks or bonds) to support the firm's expansion. They also develop financial plans for mergers (two companies joining together) and acquisitions (one company buying another).

Credit managers oversee their firm's credit business. They set credit-rating criteria, determine credit ceilings, and monitor the collections of past-due accounts.

Cash managers monitor and control the flow of cash in and out of the company to meet business and investment needs. For example, they must project cash flow to determine whether the company will have a shortage or surplus of cash.

Risk managers control financial risk by using strategies to limit or offset the probability of a financial loss or a company's exposure to financial uncertainty. Among the risks they try to limit are those that stem from currency or commodity price changes.

Insurance managers decide how best to limit a company's losses by obtaining insurance against risks, such as the need to make disability payments for an employee who gets hurt on the job or the costs imposed by a lawsuit against the company.

Work Environment for Financial Managers[About this section] [To Top]

Financial managers hold about 681,700 jobs. The largest employers of financial managers are as follows:

Finance and insurance 32%
Professional, scientific, and technical services 14%
Management of companies and enterprises 11%
Government 7%
Manufacturing 6%

Financial managers work closely with top executives and with departments that develop the data financial managers need.

Financial Manager Work Schedules

Most financial managers work full time and some work more than 40 hours per week.

How to Become a Financial Manager[About this section] [To Top]

Get the education you need: Find schools for Financial Managers near you!

Financial managers typically have a bachelor's degree and 5 years or more of experience in another business or financial occupation, such as an accountant, securities sales agent, or financial analyst.

Education for Financial Managers

A bachelor's degree in finance, accounting, economics, or business administration is often the minimum education needed for financial managers. However, many employers now seek candidates with a master's degree, preferably in business administration, finance, accounting, or economics. These academic programs help students develop analytical skills and learn financial analysis methods and software.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations for Financial Managers

Although professional certification is not required, some financial managers still get it to demonstrate a level of competence. The CFA Institute confers the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) certification to investment professionals who have at least a bachelor's degree, 4 years of work experience, and pass three exams. The Association for Financial Professionals confers the Certified Treasury Professional credential to those who pass an exam and have a minimum of 2 years of relevant experience. Certified public accountants (CPA's) are licensed by their state's board of accountancy and must pass an exam administered by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA).

Work Experience in a Related Occupation for Financial Managers

Financial managers usually have experience in another business or financial occupation. For example, they may have worked as a loan officer, accountant, securities sales agent, or financial analyst.

In some cases, companies provide formal management training programs to help prepare highly motivated and skilled financial workers to become financial managers.

Advancement for Financial Managers

Experienced financial managers can advance to become chief financial officers (CFOs). These executives are responsible for the accuracy of an entire company's or organization's financial reporting.

Important Qualities for Financial Managers

Analytical skills. Financial managers increasingly are assisting executives in making decisions that affect their organization, a task that requires analytical ability.

Communication skills. Excellent communication skills are essential because financial managers must explain and justify complex financial transactions.

Detail oriented. In preparing and analyzing reports such as balance sheets and income statements, financial managers must be precise and attentive to their work in order to avoid errors.

Math skills. Financial managers must be skilled in math, including algebra. An understanding of international finance and complex financial documents also is important.

Organizational skills. Because financial managers deal with a range of information and documents, they must stay organized to do their jobs effectively.

Financial Manager Salaries[About this section] [More salary/earnings info] [To Top]

The median annual wage for financial managers is $131,710. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $77,040, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $208,000.

The median annual wages for financial managers in the top industries in which they work are as follows:

Management of companies and enterprises $158,820
Professional, scientific, and technical services $158,770
Finance and insurance $131,710
Manufacturing $131,710
Government $123,010

Most financial managers work full time and some work more than 40 hours per week.

Job Outlook for Financial Managers[About this section] [To Top]

Employment of financial managers is projected to grow 17 percent over the next ten years, much faster than the average for all occupations.

About 64,200 openings for financial managers are projected each year, on average, over the decade. Many of those openings are expected to result from the need to replace workers who transfer to different occupations or exit the labor force, such as to retire.

See all finance jobs.

Employment of Financial Managers

Services provided by financial managers, such as planning, directing, and coordinating investments, are likely to stay in demand as the economy grows. In addition, several specialties within financial management, particularly cash management and risk management, are expected to be in high demand over the decade.

In recent years, companies have accumulated more cash on their balance sheets, particularly among those with operations in foreign countries. As globalization continues, this trend is likely to persist. This should lead to demand for financial managers, as companies will need expertise in managing cash.

There has been an increased emphasis on risk management within the financial industry, and this trend is expected to continue. Banking institutions are expected to emphasize stability and managing risk over profits. This emphasis is expected to lead to employment growth for risk managers.

The credit intermediation and related activities industry, which includes commercial and savings banks, employs a large percentage of financial managers. As bank customers continue to conduct transactions online, the number of bank branches is expected to decline, which should limit employment growth in this sector. However, employment declines are expected to mainly affect clerical occupations, such as tellers, rather than financial managers.

Employment projections data for Financial Managers, 2020-30
Occupational Title Employment, 2020 Projected Employment, 2030 Change, 2020-30
Percent Numeric
Financial managers 681,700 799,900 17 118,200


A portion of the information on this page is used by permission of the U.S. Department of Labor.


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