Jobs Outlook: Financial Managers

Employment of financial managers is expected to grow about as fast as the average for all occupations through 2012. Growth is expected to be steady and will increase in line with the growth of the economy as a whole. However, jobseekers are likely to face keen competition for jobs, as the number of job openings is expected to be less than the number of applicants. Candidates with expertise in accounting and finance, particularly those with a master’s degree, should enjoy the best job prospects. Strong computer skills and knowledge of international finance are important; so are excellent communication skills, because financial management jobs involve working on strategic planning teams.

As the economy expands, job growth for financial managers will stem from both the expansion of established companies and from the creation of new businesses. Over the short term, employment in this occupation is negatively impacted by economic downturns, during which companies are more likely to close departments, or even go out of business—decreasing the need for financial managers. Mergers, acquisitions, and corporate downsizing also are likely to adversely affect employment of financial managers. However, the growing need for financial expertise as the economy expands will ensure job growth over the next decade.

The banking industry, which employs more than 1 out of 10 financial managers, will continue to consolidate, although at a slower rate than in previous years. In spite of this trend, employment of bank branch managers is expected to increase as banks begin to refocus on the importance of their existing branches and as new branches are created to service a growing population. As banks expand the range of products and services they offer to include insurance and investment products, branch managers with knowledge in these areas will be needed. As a result, candidates who are licensed to sell insurance or securities will have the most favorable prospects.

Despite the current downturn in the securities and commodities industry, the long-run prospects for financial managers in that industry should be favorable, as more will be needed to handle increasingly complex financial transactions and manage a growing amount of investments. Financial managers also will be needed to handle mergers and acquisitions, raise capital, and assess global financial transactions. Risk managers, who assess risks for insurance and investment purposes, also will be in demand.

Some companies may hire financial managers on a temporary basis, to see the organization through a short-term crisis or to offer suggestions for boosting profits. Other companies may contract out all accounting and financial operations. Even in these cases, however, financial managers may be needed to oversee the contracts.

Computer technology has reduced the time and staff required to produce financial reports. As a result, forecasting earnings, profits, and costs, and generating ideas and creative ways to increase profitability will become a major role of corporate financial managers over the next decade. Financial managers who are familiar with computer software that can assist them in this role will be needed.