How to Become a Portfolio Investment Manager
Find out how to become a portfolio investment manager. Research the education requirements and learn about the experience you need to advance your career in financial analysis.
Requirements to Become a Portfolio Investment Manager
Portfolio investment managers are financial analysts who oversee an entire team of financial analysts and handle the investment portfolios for a company, helping the company earn income. To become a portfolio investment manager, voluntary certification is recommended and in some cases states require licensure. Prior to this, managers normally acquire bachelor's and master's degrees and work experience. The following table contains the main requirements for being a portfolio investment manager, as stated by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS):
|Degree Level||Bachelor's degree required; many have a master's|
|Degree Field||Business, finance, statistics, economics, accounting|
|Licensure and/or Certification||Required to be licensed with Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA); separate professional certification is also available|
|Experience||Many start in lower-tier financial analyst positions|
|Key Skills||Detail-oriented, math skills, communication skills|
Step 1: Attain a Bachelor's Degree
Portfolio investment managers start their careers by acquiring a bachelor's degree in accounting, economics, business, statistics or finance, with classes in all those subjects. Many of these subjects can prepare an individual for either an entry-level position or graduate school. However, a large number of portfolio investment managers also hold a Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree, so it is advantageous for one to choose an undergraduate major that can ease the transition into an MBA program.
Step 2: Earn a Master's Degree
One may decide to earn a master's degree right after completing his or her bachelor's or after gaining experience in the field. In graduate business school, master's degree programs may be in business, risk management, finance or accounting. Courses in bond evaluation and pricing provide an educational foundation for portfolio investment managers. Although not mandatory, a master's degree can help one advance in this competitive career.
Step 3: Find a Financial Analyst Position
Portfolio investment managers are an advanced career choice in securities, and most portfolio managers start out as financial analysts. This position may be available as a graduate internship or a full-time paid position. Working as an investment advisor for individuals may help develop the skills and experience to become a portfolio investment manager as well.
Step 4: Acquire Licensure
As a financial analyst empowered to buy and sell to manage a portfolio of investments, portfolio investment managers must be licensed. Though the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) oversees the licensure examinations, the exact combination of licenses is dictated by the state and the types of investments in the portfolio. Many license exams require the portfolio investment manager to have employer sponsorship, so financial analysts are not expected to have the licenses before being hired.
Step 5: Register with Securities Agencies
Portfolio investment managers need to be registered with their state's securities agency. States may require fingerprinting for a background check, in addition to an application or registration form. Managers of large portfolios, generally more than $25 million, may need to register with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). SEC registration requires filing a form and maintaining accurate accounting of the investments managed.
Step 6: Consider Certification Options
Many employing firms prefer portfolio managers who hold the official Charted Financial Analyst designation from the CFA institute. Portfolio investment managers meet the designation's requirements by possessing a bachelor's degree, acquiring four years of experience and completing three examinations taken either back to back or individually. These tests cover information like asset evaluation, corporate financing, accounting, economics, portfolio management and securities analysis.
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