What can you do with a masters in Finance?

A man with a computer explores what can you do with a Masters in Finance

‘What can you do with a Masters in Finance’ is a popular question that’s often asked by prospective students considering postgraduate study or a finance programme. It’s no surprise; careers in the finance industry are vast and varied, offering multiple routes for aspiring professionals and current employees to explore.

In this blog, we spotlight five popular career paths open to Finance graduates and explain how programmes like our online masters in Finance and Strategy can help professionals thrive in this exciting and ever-changing industry.

Career paths for Finance masters graduates

1. Accountant

Accounting involves preparing, managing and maintaining financial records and is essential to the smooth functioning of a business. The key duties of an accountant include auditing, bookkeeping, analysing data and preparing financial reports.

Accountants work across all industries of every size and can either work in-house for a business, within an accountancy firm, or as a freelancer.

Accountant salaries can vary significantly depending on the type of accountancy you do (tax, forensic, payroll, etc) and your location. According to Michael Page’s 2022 salary report, Financial Accountants in London earn £10,000 more on average than those in Scotland (£55,000 vs. £44,000 respectively).

Finally, your level of experience and training also have a huge bearing on your earning potential. Chartered Accountants are hugely sought-after by employers and as such have an average salary of £84,500 with an average yearly bonus of £17,300.

A key benefit of our online masters in finance programme is that all graduates get access to the CIMA (Chartered Institute of Management Accountants) Masters Gateway – an accelerated route allowing them to qualify as a Chartered Global Management Accountant sooner.


2. Finance Controller

Finance Controllers generally come from an accountancy background and possess all the technical skills outlined above.

The key distinction is a Finance Controller’s seniority within a business. They report directly to the Chief Financial Officer, manage all accounting and financial functions, and inform the overarching financial and business strategy.

Therefore, in addition to ensuring absolute quality and compliance across all financial reporting, Financial Controllers must demonstrate strong strategic, organisational and leadership skills – all of which we focus on developing in the Strategy and Leadership and International Strategic Management units of our online masters.

Finance Controllers earn approximately £70,800 a year on average in the UK, reaching £85,000 if based in London. (Michael Page Salary Report, 2022)


3. Financial Analyst

A Financial Analyst is concerned with evaluating a business’s financial practices, asset management and investments and suggesting ways to improve these and boost profitability.

The role is data intensive and therefore requires someone with strong research and analytical skills. They need a really nuanced understanding of the specific industry they’re working in, a finger on the pulse of the market, and an ability to create financial models that forecast future performance. This might be for one company or several depending on whether they work in house or at an investment firm.

According to Michael Page’s 2022 finance salary report, Financial Analysts earn an average of £48,500 a year – although, as with accountancy – location, industry, organisation type and level of training all influence this figure.

As a corporate finance role, the Corporate Finance and Corporate Reporting units on our online masters programme would be particularly valuable for anyone interested in a career in this field.

4. Financial Risk Manager

Risk management involves analysing the financial markets and wider global environment to identify any potential threats to an individual or organisation’s assets and earning potential.

Of course, risk is an inherent part of investment and therefore not all can or should be mitigated. It is the job of a Financial Risk Manager to make these calculated decisions through data analysis and forecasting.

According to employment agency Reed, the average UK salary of a Risk Manager working in financial services is approximately £62,000 a year.

The online masters in Finance programme at Manchester Metropolitan University includes a dedicated unit on Governance, Risk and Control in which students critically evaluate corporate governance, the importance of risk considerations, risk management and ethical considerations in corporate governance.


5. Investment Banker

Investment banking is concerned with growing a person, organisation or company’s financial assets through stock, bonds, capital funding or loans.

Investment Bankers closely monitor financial markets, conduct in-depth analysis into a company’s worth, financial performance and portfolios, and use their strategic expertise to advise clients on smart investment opportunities. They will also offer guidance on safeguarding assets to minimise the risk of financial loss.

The job site Prospects reports that salaries for Investment Bankers start somewhere between £30,000 to £40,000 a year – more if you work for the big banks typically based in cities like London. After three or more years, salaries rise to £50,000 to £70,000, and those with several years in industry can earn a base salary of around £150,000 to £165,000. Bonuses generally come as standard for these roles which can double or even triple your base salary.

The high earning potential for this role makes it a coveted one for many finance professionals. However, the impressive payslip often comes at the cost of a healthy work-life balance, with Investment Bankers expected to work long hours during the week and often into the weekend.

The strategic focus of our MSc Finance and Strategy course would prove extremely beneficial to those interested in this career route, as well as the opportunity it presents to learn from real-world corporate finance case studies.

Of course, this list of roles is nowhere near exhaustive but should give you a sense of the different careers a Finance graduate can get into (or progress to) and the types of businesses that value their skills.

So, now we’ve covered what you can do with a masters in Finance, let’s consider why it could be a good option.


Why should I do a masters in Finance?

The decision of whether a masters in Finance is right for you really comes down to your specific career ambitions.

For many, doing a MSc Finance offers a way to:

  • Broaden their understanding of the sector and gain contemporary insights
  • Get a flavour of the various fields available via different units
  • Determine the area or type of role – like all those above – that might be right for them to break into, progress in or pivot to
  • Acquire the skills necessary to achieve their goals

Ultimately, you will need to consider the type of work, salary and lifestyle you would like your future role to offer and to decide if the learning outcomes of the masters degree will help you get there.


Is an online Finance degree worth it?

The major benefit of an online masters in finance is the flexibility it affords students who may not have the time or opportunity to do an on-campus course.

Many of our online alumni at Manchester Metropolitan University have joined us beyond the UK where our campus is based. Without the option of distance learning, they wouldn’t have had the opportunity to study with us and benefit from the unique insights of our Business School faculty.

Because people join us from around the world, it also means that students on the online masters programme get the opportunity to grow their global network, connect with fellow ambitious finance graduates and gain international insights into financial markets around the world.

If you’re interested in studying a Finance masters online, visit our MSc Finance and Strategy online course page for more information.