For young people interested in finance, portfolio manager is a coveted position, but it can be a difficult one to achieve. A person doesn’t simply graduate with a bachelor’s degree and immediately land a job as a hedge fund manager. Instead, one must identify their goals early on, work hard toward the milestones needed to achieve them and nurture their career carefully throughout the process.
At the bare minimum, you’ll require a bachelor’s degree in finance. You’ll want demonstrated focus in math, accounting, economics and business. Many portfolio managers also have a background in computer science, engineering and so forth. Use electives to expand your résumé with purpose. Keep in mind that in this field that prestige associated with your university matters.
Take advantage of internships as soon as they’re available to you. They should be available to you no later than your junior year. When choosing a college, consider internship access as well as prestige. The benefits of internships are not limited to undergraduates. The most ambitious managers-to-be continue interning while seeking their master’s degree and while working at entry-level positions.
The bachelor’s degree will get your foot in the door, but it’s not guaranteed to take you all the way. The Hollywood image of meteoric rises in the financial world is not the norm. You’ll likely have to struggle for each rung on the ladder against a highly competitive field. By having a master’s degree and by continuing to expand your educational résumé, you give yourself a greater chance to stand apart from the pack.
Seek a Position as an Entry-Level Analyst
If you have the resources necessary to pull it off, one option is to start your own fund, which does allow you to be a portfolio manager straight out of college. Most people will have to accept an entry-level position and work themselves up. Typically, analyst positions provide the best opportunities for advancement toward fund management, but trader positions may be a better option in certain firms. Although you may be tempted to go after the most money available, you’re better off going with the position that provides the most potential for upward mobility.
Earn CFA Certification
Don’t be satisfied with the status quo. While working entry-level and mid-tier positions, strive to make yourself more attractive to potential employers. Continue accepting intern positions, in addition to your regular assignment, until you reach a position that no longer allows it. Also, you can earn your Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) designation long before you land a portfolio manager position, so go after it as soon as you’re able to achieve it.
If you approach your education and eventual career with a plan, and continue to make decisions based on that plan, you will achieve your dream of being a hedge fund manager. Your network is a great asset in the financial world, so no matter where you are in terms of your education or career, never pass up an opportunity to expand and nurture that network.