Finance is a broad term referring to various things about the science, development, and management of funds and investments. In particular, it concerns the questions of who, what, when and where an individual, institution or governmental body receives the funds required for its operations; called assets in the business context. More generally, Finance can be used to refer to a field of study that includes financial accounting, economics, banking, and other financial studies that are directly related. As a subset of these disciplines, Finance also includes a number of applications and subdisciplines, such as public economics, investment banking, venture capital, estate, and private equity.
The scope and focus of contemporary Finance research are almost as diverse as the number of economic endeavors and institutions that require funds for their growth and development. The scope of this field is therefore quite broad, including taxation, private income and wealth, asset pricing, insurance, portfolio management, the exchange markets, the money markets, public finance, and private equity. This diversity of the topics and the approaches to finance makes it an enigma for many individuals who wish to gain a basic understanding of the concepts involved. Fortunately, there are numerous online sources that provide detailed information on a wide range of areas of finance. These online sources are especially useful for students and individuals who are interested in pursuing graduate studies in finance.
One of the most popular ways to gain a basic understanding of the breadth of the discipline is through courses designed to train students in finance. Finance courses are designed to provide knowledge about long-term investment strategies, the role of credit, the involvement of personal finance, the role of management systems, financial planning, risk management, asset allocation, portfolio optimization, international finances, personal finance, and the macroeconomics of finance. A course in finance can therefore be a valuable asset for a prospective graduate student interested in either having a career in finance or as a student with aspirations to enter the profession.
There are also a number of government and non-government institutions that offer various finance degrees. Students who have completed an undergraduate degree, or have completed a related course of study, may be able to get some fairly good finance job placement after graduating. Some of the options include positions in accounting, investment banking, financial consulting, insurance, banking, insurance sales, mortgage banking, asset management, venture capital, private equities, public business enterprise, and private financial management.
Finance courses also usually include an emphasis on financial management in relation to investments. Most commonly, finance courses will begin with a broad overview of the field of business administration. Business administration courses teach students the skills they need to succeed as managers and investors. Financial management includes financial planning, risk management, asset allocation, investment portfolio analysis, investment management, and financial reporting. Other topics that will frequently be covered in an MBA program include the role of banks and other financial institutions, government programs for finance, international business, and investment strategies.
Finance graduates can either go directly into banking, though this often depends on previous work experience or on university admissions. They may work for banks for several years before branching out into private lending or going into corporate bonds, or even into investment banking. Whatever they eventually choose, they will be responsible for ensuring that banks’ portfolios are well-balanced, for lending money to businesses, and for collecting payments from customers. Many bankers start their careers as loan officers, but eventually move into higher-level positions such as credit counselors, risk managers, or investment executives.