How to become an investment manager (tips and useful skills)
Updated 4 June 2023
Investment managers help improve relationships with clients and perform various strategic duties, such as using financial analysis to identify profitable stock options and other investments. If you have an interest in finance and want to support organisations and meet their financial goals, a career as an investment manager might be right for you. Learning about the journey to pursuing this role can help you create a career development plan. In this article, we explain how to become an investment manager, discuss the skills necessary for this role and share tips to increase your chances of securing the job.
What is an investment manager?
An investment manager is a senior finance role that manages a bank's or organisation's entire investment portfolio. As it's a senior position, investment managers often oversee the work of junior and mid-level investment specialists. Pursuing this career typically includes reviewing investment strategies and developing processes that help an organisation and its clients identify new investment opportunities. Before you learn about becoming an investment manager, reviewing the role and its responsibilities can help you decide if it's the right career for you.
How to become an investment manager
Determining how to become an investment manager is a practical step towards understanding what employers require from candidates for this position. It also helps you ensure you have the right skills, qualifications and potential for handling the role's day-to-day duties. Here are some steps to becoming an investment manager:
1. Review open investment manager positions
Before committing to a career as an investment manager, ensure you're familiar with the role's requirements and competencies. For example, consider searching job boards for open positions. Reading through job offers helps you understand what employers expect from an ideal candidate. Focus on the requirements section, as you can use this knowledge to determine which university course you want to choose and which of your skills require more attention. Job advertisements can also give you an idea of how much time it might take to qualify for an investment manager role.
2. Connect with current investment managers
Connect with individuals in this position to learn what it's like to work in investment management. Consider messaging your contacts on professional networking websites or approaching them in person, such as by attending industry conferences or networking events. Experienced specialists often openly share their opinions and knowledge with those who aspire to work in their field. If you find someone whose values and personality align with yours, consider asking them to become your mentor. As a mentee, you have the opportunity to continue receiving their valuable support and advice.
3. Obtain an undergraduate degree
Once you're sure that a career in investment management is for you, explore your educational options. When hiring for this role, employers often require candidates to have a degree in finance, economics or a related field. Obtaining a university degree shows that you've put effort into your development and learnt the basics of finance and investing. Some employers might also view your motivation as an indication that you're likely to adjust to their organisation's work environment and know how to meet your project deadlines effectively.
Requirements for aspiring finance students may vary between colleges and universities. To increase your chances of acceptance onto a degree course, consider choosing A-levels in maths, business and accountancy as your entrance criteria. Universities may also ask for a language certificate if English isn't your first language.
4. Become an intern
Before you graduate, consider completing at least one internship. Depending on your availability for work outside your study hours, explore part-time programmes that require you to work a few hours every week after your lectures. Another option is to apply for summer internships, which allow you to experience working full-time in a standard Monday-to-Friday schedule. As an investment management intern, you support experienced managers in performing their duties, such as analysing investment strategies, conducting client research or managing investment solutions for their existing clients.
5. Consider completing a postgraduate programme
Postgraduate programmes are valuable when you want to specialise in a specific field, such as investment management. Completing a postgraduate degree helps you build your investment expertise. It can also serve as a tool for building your brand and competencies. In addition, universities often connect postgraduate students with banks and organisations that seek potential bankers and investment specialists. Use your postgraduate qualification as a tool for networking and exploring attractive job opportunities to increase your chances of securing a job as an investment manager.
6. Secure a full-time finance position
Once you complete your studies and gain some internship or entry-level experience, start looking for a full-time independent job in investment banking or finance. A mid-level investment specialist is usually part of a team reporting to an investment manager. In this role, ensure you take the opportunity to observe and analyse the challenges the manager handles in their day-to-day work. Keep an open mind for opportunities and actively engage in team projects to show your ambition. Some mid-level jobs to consider include:
7. Advance to a senior management role
As you gain experience and become comfortable in your mid-level role, communicate to your manager your aspirations to advance to a more senior role within the organisation. Your manager may have valuable advice to develop your expertise further and encourage you to explore options for promotion. In addition, invest in your management skills by completing leadership training and building your interpersonal and communication skills.
Key skills for investment managers
Investment managers are finance experts who oversee the work of investment staff. Advancing to this position requires a wide range of soft and hard competencies. Here are some useful skills for progressing your career and succeeding as an investment manager in the future:
Understanding of investment management techniques
Investment management techniques are principles and rules that investment specialists use to service clients. Learning about these techniques improves your understanding of both investment and portfolio management. To build your investment strategy expertise, continue expanding your knowledge through workplace training and participating in outside courses. In addition, studying examples of successful and failed investments is beneficial to understand how organisations and investors handle these situations.
Expert knowledge of financial instruments
Financial instruments, or products, are assets that individuals and organisations can trade, such as cash and derivative instruments like stocks. Investment specialists regularly encounter financial products in the form of investment opportunities, which they identify for their employers or clients. Successful investment managers understand how these instruments work, how they impact each other and when the time is right to trade them.
Leadership and communication
Investment managers sometimes work independently, but more commonly, they're leaders who oversee the performance of finance staff, including investment analysts and researchers. To ensure their team and organisation succeed, they use different management techniques to motivate, discipline and reward their staff. Therefore, it's valuable to develop your knowledge of how to create development opportunities for subordinates and yourself.
Strategic and analytical thinking
When identifying the most lucrative investment opportunities, an investment manager typically considers an organisation's financial history, present status and predictions for growth. Using analytical thinking helps them strategise their investment decisions in a way that delivers the best results, even though it may involve taking some financial risks. Developing your risk management skills is valuable for implementing such strategies as an investment manager.
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