Finance is a hot industry these days. The DOW is soaring, and everyone is trying to figure out how cryptocurrencies will fit into the big picture, if at all. Further, the world is becoming far more interconnected, including financial markets. Thus, if you have decided to venture into the wild and wooly world of finance, you will need to go forward with the best resources in your toolkit. That's why we created this page. Here, you will find the tips and tools that will help you build and develop your career to optimal success. No matter what corner of the financial industry you are aiming for, the following resources will serve you well.
Top Resources for Finance Students
Accreditation is one of the chief criteria you should use when assessing a finance program. The three main agencies that assess all business, finance, and accounting programs are the AACSB, ACBSP, and the IACBE. Of the three, the AACSB is considered the gold standard for all business and business-related programs.
The ACBSP and the IACBE are also excellent accrediting agencies. The chief difference is that the AACSB relies more on strict academic standards. The schools they credential are more research focused and their faculty are more likely to have more research credits to their name. However, schools accredited by either the ACBSP or the IACBE are also great choices. Their focus is more occupational, and they emphasize teaching over academic research for their faculty.
On the other hand, there are some schools that achieve the trifecta. That is, they carry finance degree program accreditations from all three agencies. To see if your top choices are accredited by one or more of these agencies, check their websites:
Questions About Financial Aid
If you are like most students, you will need to finance your education with some outside funds. Educational financing can take many forms. You can investigate opportunities for grants and scholarships and then you can also pursue the various loan options.
Grants and scholarships are the best possible financing option, chiefly because you usually don't have to repay them. There are some grants, however, that require that you repay the loan with work. That is, if the fund pays your tuition for, say three years, you will need to work for that company or governmental agency for three or more years. You can always opt out of the work requirement, but you will then have to repay the entire grant, with interest. You can also search for industry specific business scholarships that are available.
Federal loans are perhaps one of the most popular ways of financing an education. You will need to repay whatever amount you borrow, of course, but there are ways to manage your payments and make the process comfortable. There is also a loan deferral program that allow you to repay the loan by working for a qualifying governmental agency or a non-profit organization. This program may be in jeopardy, however, so check to see that it is still intact if you intend to count on that repayment method.
Though you should first exhaust all of your options for a federal loan, private loans are also an option. These loans carry higher interest rates and stricter repayment plans, but they can still provide the funds necessary to complete your finance degree when you've already met the limit for federal student loans.
Lastly, you could pursue a personal, private loan from a relative or friend. This is a rare option, but it offers more flexibility in terms of repayment options, and interest rates. First you need to find a family member who's willing to lend a hand, and a few dollars.
Associations for Students
As you pursue a career in finance, you will want to join one or more professional associations. These organizations help you keep your finger on the pulse of your industry. You can find fellowship with others in the field, explore leadership opportunities, and develop your career in many ways that are unavailable to non-members.
There are many campus associations that are for students only, but there are also student membership opportunities available with national, professional organizations. Often, these national organizations will have scholarships available to student-members as well as internships, mentoring, and more.
- Beta Alpha Psi:
This is an honors organization for students who excel in the fields of finance and accounting. This is one of the oldest student finance associations in the nation. They were founded in 1919 and now count over 300 chapters on college and university campuses.
- Beta Gamma Sigma:
This honors organization is designed for the top 10% of undergraduate business students. There are over 600 campus chapters worldwide and the alumni chapters and networks keep the fellowship alive long after graduation.
The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants offers a range of membership opportunities. You can be a student or a finance professional and still be a part of this stellar professional organization. You will want to continue your membership far into your finance career.
- Phi Beta Lambda:
This business association is closely tied to the FBLA which you may have encountered as early as middle school. As a PBL member, you can explore leadership opportunities, network with future financial wizards, and explore activities that will enhance your academic work with real-world experiences.
- Association of Latino Professionals for America:
ALPFA started in 1972 as a way to develop Latino professionals through leadership opportunities, networking opportunities, and national conventions.
Student or Open Access Journals
As a student of finance, you should make it a habit to subscribe and read at least one financial journal on a regular basis. This will get you in the habit of watching market fluctuations, assessing up-to-date financial research, and otherwise being familiar with any publicly available information. The following list is of freely available publications, which top investment banks utilize on a daily basis when they assess businesses and industries.
One or more of these may be assigned as part of your next finance or economics course but you can seek out copies from your internship, a mentor, or elsewhere. The information and the subsequent insights will blow away your interviewers.
- Crains Business Journals:
The Crains line of business journals are available to anyone who wants to subscribe. Your college library surely subscribes to one or more of their brands which cover specific industries and business communities, such as Crain's Chicago Business.
- Wall Street Journal:
The Wall Street Journal has long been the standard publication for business and finance professionals. As a student, you may need to subscribe as part of your studies. The more familiar you become with this publication the better off you will be.
- Value Line:
Financial professionals all rely on Value Line for up-to-date financial information. Your college library should have this in its periodical section.
- Investors Business Daily:
This is one of the premier financial periodicals. It is not cheap, but you might find it in your college's library. These days they only offer one physical copy per week, but you can access it daily on your laptop or mobile device.
Finance Study Resources
As you work through your finance coursework, you may find that you sometimes need to brush up on hazy concepts or maybe you are exploring a new avenue in a paper. There are countless resources available online that can take your coursework to the next level. You might decide to take a short online course while you work through a summer internship or peruse supplemental videos between classes. No matter how you use these resources, they are sure to bolster your learning and help you build the financial career you've been dreaming of.
This site will likely be a go-to resource when you need to brush up on a difficult financial concept or when you want current financial news.
EdX hosts innumerable courses that cover the gamut of human endeavors. Their courses come from sources such as MIT, Columbia, and UBC, among others.
Udemy's financial offerings include many high-tech courses that will help you utilize code in the pursuit of financial analysis.
Check out Coursera to find supplemental materials from schools such as Duke, University of Illinois, and Stanford, among many others. You can pursue any level from a certificate to an MBA.
- Khan Academy:
Khan Academy was one of the very first providers of free academic instruction on the internet. Their business and finance offerings will take your knowledge to the next level.
- Yale University:
Yale offers a host of free lectures on YouTube. You can work through an entire playlist or focus on a special lecture to augment your current learning.
As you study finance, you'll increasingly find that you're aiming at a moving target. Every day financial markets change. A season of bad weather, for instance, might roil commodities markets which then sparks a ripple effect through equities and more. When you load your mobile device with specialized finance apps you can keep current with the latest trends.
This may seem like information overload, and that can be a danger. However, the more you are aware of in the markets the more you will add to classroom discussions, your research papers will become more relevant, and you will have instilled a habit of being informed that will serve you for the duration of your career.
With the following apps you can monitor the markets, create fantasy portfolios, and more. Someday you'll be walking down Wall Street and realize that you've had some of these apps installed for multiple upgrade cycles. Keep in mind that the following apps are available for both Android and iOS. If your platform isn't linked below, please search your device's app repository.
- Yahoo Finance:
This is one of the internet's most comprehensive financial resources. Now you can load it to your mobile device and pull company and industry information at the drop of a hat.
- CNBC Business News App:
This app allows you to follow stock prices in real-time, read the most current business news, and watch CNBC shows right on your phone. What a better way to spend that between-class down time!
- Bloomberg Business News:
The Bloomberg Terminal was once considered the most high-tech device in all of the finance world. Now you can retrieve Bloomberg Business News from your Apple of Android handheld device.
- Barron's App:
Barron's is one of the oldest, best financial publications. You'll need a subscription to the magazine to access information via the app, but if you can afford approximately $20/month, your financial knowledge will explode.
- Wall Street Journal:
You may need to subscribe to the WSJ for one or more of your courses. If so, be sure to get the app, too, and access top business/finance news on demand.
A subscription will unlock all the premium information Seeking Alpha has to offer. However, you can download this app and access loads of terrific free information.
Your finance studies and stellar grades will take you far. However, what will launch your career beyond all expectations is an internship. While interns are often thought of as low-level workers who do little more than make copies and fetch coffee, when you make yourself valuable to finance professionals there can be no more valuable experience. In fact, when you intern with a top firm that has a codified intern program, you will spend your days performing valuable tasks such as doing research, preparing reports, and possibly more.
Resources for Students and Professionals
Finance Certification Options
To excel in the field of finance, you will need to attain licenses and certifications that go above and beyond your university education. Your classroom work will surely inform your preparation for these exams, but you will need to complete more coursework before you can add new initials to your business card. Often you will need a sponsorship from your employer. In that case they will often pay for your courses and exam fees.
For each license or certification there are individual requirements. Some are regulated through your state’s board of accountancy and others are governed by the Securities and Exchange Commission. Generally speaking, if you are working with publicly traded financial instruments, you will need SEC approval for your credentials. If you go through a state agency for your credentials, be sure to scrutinize their policies for transferring to a different state, if that's in your plans.
Once you pass your desired examination, the work is not over. Most licenses and certifications require that you attend courses or otherwise continue your education in order to maintain your status as a licensed or certified professional.
- Series 3 National Commodities Futures Examination
- Series 7 General Securities Representative Qualification Examination
- Financial Risk Manager (FRM)
- Chartered Investment Counselor (CIC)
- Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA)
- Certified Financial Planner (CFP)
- Certified Management Accountant (CMA)
- Chartered Market Technician (CMT)
- Energy Risk Professional (ERP)
- Licensed International Financial Analyst (LIFA)
- Certificate in Investment Performance Measurement (CIPM)
Certification Study Resources
Professional examinations are difficult. In fact, many undergraduate and even graduate programs are structured to help students prepare for an eventual exam. Thus, if you are thinking of having the bulk of your financial knowledge put to the test, you should consider a study course. Many students also form study groups in an effort to maximize their efforts and pass the first time.
These days there are many study resources available. You can purchase and take courses online or loaded on CD-ROM, and there is a large industry that is centered around test preparation. You can attend classroom sessions, purchase workbooks, and more. You need to determine which study method works best for you, but it is imperative that you spend time brushing up prior to any professional exam. Good luck!
- Kaplan Test Prep:
Kaplan is a leader in test-prep for a wide range of financial certifications.
- Test Prep Review:
This valuable online resource lets you take a practice test free of charge.
- Certified Financial Planner:
The CFP board provides solid study resources to help you pass their exam the first time.
This lauded accounting association certifies more than CPAs and they offer test preparation for every exam.
- Knopman Marks:
This test-prep company offers online, in-person, and blended courses to help you pass your FINRA exam the first time.
A temporary staffing agency is one that seeks to find work that suits your skills and expertise. They will assess your resume and send to work at firms that need exactly what you have to offer. As the name implies, these jobs are often short-lived, but sometimes they can extend for weeks or months or even give you an in for a permanent position at a company.
Temporary agencies are a great way for new graduates to find work and test the job market. You can experiment with large and small firms, as well as those with various specialty focuses. Many temporary workers find full-time employment through these agencies.
Resources for Finance Professionals
Though it's a great idea to start your involvement with a financial association while still in school, especially in graduate school, it's vital once you are in the working world. This sort of engagement with your industry will provide you with a vast network of colleagues, access to journals and other materials, and opportunities to continue your financial education. Further, you may have the opportunity to attain leadership positions, not to mention being privy to the best job leads.
You'll have to pay dues to be a member, but often employers will assist or cover these costs. They know that the more engagement you have with the wider world of finance the better you can do your job. Who knows? They may offer to send you to a conference in return for a job well done.
As you pursue your career, you will find it vital to keep up to date with all the current trends and changes in your industry. It's a good idea to make a habit of reading the latest journals so that you can continue to hone your practice and establish new standards for yourself and your team. If you work for any sizeable firm, you will want to maintain a library of current journals. Your firm's subscription might even allow electronic access to materials for easy access on your commute or at home.
Industry Conferences for Finance Professionals
Conferences are a great opportunity to put your daily work to the side and delve into a weekend's worth of learning, networking, and even a bit of fun. These conferences feature top speakers and other presenters who can offer new insights into your work and life. You might even be able to pick up a few CEUs for your license. In between learning, there are sure to be loads of vendors selling the latest in financial software or other services. However, don't forget to mix and mingle at the cocktail parties where you can meet colleagues from all over the nation and world.
- FINRA Annual Conference:
Attendance to the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority's annual conference might not be mandatory, but is recommended. The conference is sure to enlighten you as to new trends and changes in compliance and regulations.
- Financial Planning Association Annual Conference:
Thought leaders in the field of financial planning will flock to this annual, international conference. Over 2,000 attendees attend, representing at least 200 countries, and they are there to learn and network.
- Morningstar Investment Conference:
Morningstar's annual conference will show you the future of investing and finance. This conference draws some of the top speakers in the field.
- FPA NexGen Gathering:
If you're new to the industry, this conference is for you. The Financial Planning Association has created this conference especially for financial professionals in their twenties.
Professional Finance Software
You really can't do business these days without multiple software packages running all at once. Your clients will want to see instant calculations and demonstrations of multiple scenarios so that they can make the best choice. Thus, you will need to work with at least one professional financial software package. Each is sure to have its own strengths and weaknesses, and some will work better for you while others may have another preference. Since most software companies allow a free trial period, take a few for a spin to see which best suits your needs.
- MoneyGuide Pro:
This top software package will help your work as a financial advisor. You can do estate planning, generate custom CMAs, calculates net worth, and it also helps you assess and manage risk.
This tool will help you create long-term financial plans for your clients, manage your practice, and streamline and grow your company. You can even set up a client portal to allow your customers to track and manage their performance.
No matter how sophisticated your client is, this software can scale to meet their needs. You can plan for your clients' retirement, estate planning, and more. You can try the software for free when you sign up through their website.