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.
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.
Financial managers held about 653,600 jobs in 2018. The largest employers of financial managers were as follows:
|Finance and insurance||30%|
|Professional, scientific, and technical services||14|
|Management of companies and enterprises||11|
Financial managers work closely with top executives and with departments that develop the data financial managers need.
Most financial managers work full time and some work more than 40 hours per week.
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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.
The median annual wage for financial managers was $127,990 in May 2018.
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 $67,620, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $208,000.
In May 2018, the median annual wages for financial managers in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:
|Professional, scientific, and technical services||$151,610|
|Management of companies and enterprises||143,560|
|Finance and insurance||124,250|
Most financial managers work full time and some work more than 40 hours per week.
Median annual wages, May 2018
- Financial managers
- Operations specialties managers
- Total, all occupations
Employment of financial managers is projected to grow 16 percent from 2018 to 2028, much faster than the average for all occupations. However, growth will vary by industry.
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 next 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 be in need of cash management expertise.
There has been an increased emphasis on risk management within the financial industry, and this trend is expected to continue. In response to both the financial crisis and financial regulatory reform, banking institutions will place a greater emphasis on stability and managing risk rather than on maximizing profits. This 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 increasingly 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. From 2018 to 2028, employment of financial managers is projected to grow 13 percent in this industry.
As with other managerial occupations, jobseekers are likely to face competition because there are more applicants than job openings. Candidates with expertise in accounting and finance—particularly those with a master’s degree or certification—should enjoy the best job prospects.
|Occupational Title||SOC Code||Employment, 2018||Projected Employment, 2028||Change, 2018-28||Employment by Industry|
SOURCE: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Projections program
This table shows a list of occupations with job duties that are similar to those of financial managers.
|Occupation||Job Duties||Entry-Level Education||Median Annual Pay, May 2018|
Accountants and Auditors
Accountants and auditors prepare and examine financial records.
Budget analysts help public and private institutions organize their finances.
Financial analysts provide guidance to businesses and individuals making investment decisions.
Insurance Sales Agents
Insurance sales agents contact potential customers and sell one or more types of insurance.
|High school diploma or equivalent||$50,600|
Insurance underwriters evaluate insurance applications and decide whether to provide insurance, and under what terms.
Loan officers evaluate, authorize, or recommend approval of loan applications for people and businesses.
Personal Financial Advisors
Personal financial advisors provide advice to help individuals manage their finances and plan for their financial future.
For more information about financial managers, including certification, visit
For information about careers in financial and treasury management and the Certified Treasury Professional program, visit
Association for Financial Professionals
For information about the Chartered Financial Analyst program, visit
For more information about the certified public accountant designation, visit
For a career video on financial managers, visit
For a career video on treasurers and controllers, visit
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Financial Managers,
on the Internet at https://www.bls.gov/ooh/management/financial-managers.htm (visited ).