Is being an investment manager a good career path to pursue?

Updated 5 June 2023

If you have an aptitude for mathematics, you may want to pursue a career in finance. Investment management is a dynamic and often rewarding career choice. Learning about this field before committing to a job can give you insight into whether it's something you might enjoy. In this article, we help you determine the answer to the question 'Is being an investment manager a good career path for you?' by explaining what investment managers do and the role's benefits and challenges.

Please note that none of the companies, institutions or organisations mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.

What is an investment manager?

An investment manager is a financial specialist who helps businesses and individuals manage their investments. They oversee their client's financial portfolios by investing their funds. They recommend various investment strategies and work to maximise clients' financial returns.

Related: How to become an investment manager (tips and useful skills)

Is being an investment manager a good career path?

There are several factors to consider when answering the question 'Is being an investment manager a good career path?', such as whether you have the skills, interests and personality for the position. Here's some information about the role to help you determine if it's a good choice for you:

Related: Wealth manager vs financial advisor: FAQs and answers

Educational requirements

A bachelor's degree is typically the minimum requirement for starting a career in investment management. Most investment managers have a degree in finance, economics, accounting or a similar discipline. These courses provide a foundation in the relevant maths and industry-specific knowledge beneficial for starting an investment management career. If pursuing an undergraduate degree is challenging for you, alternate training is available.

Students who take the alternate route can pursue a degree-level apprenticeship, which allows them to learn and gain practical experience while working full time. Consider the Institute of Apprenticeships' Level 6 Financial Services Professional and the Level 7 Senior Investment/Commercial Banking Professional apprenticeship schemes to gain the training you need. Completing both training programmes takes about five years.

Related: What is a finance degree? (Plus degree types and careers)

Necessary skills

Successful investment managers have a unique mix of technical and non-technical abilities. It's possible to develop technical skills through your training, but soft skills or personality traits may make the job easier for you overall. For example, investment managers often have excellent problem-solving skills that they use to devise investment strategies that come together like a complex puzzle.

For instance, many investment managers account for factors such as a client's available capital, their risk tolerance and market conditions. They use their problem-solving skills to balance these factors logically to attain optimal results and create a suitable investment strategy. In addition to problem-solving skills, this career path typically requires the following competencies:

  • excellent communication skills

  • IT literacy

  • consistent organisation

  • interpersonal skills and the ability to form relationships quickly

  • mathematical aptitude

  • a genuine interest in finance and financial literacy

  • analytical thinking

Related: Investment manager vs asset manager: differences and skills

Responsibilities and work environment

Investment managers generally work Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., although they sometimes work outside these hours if they have a heavy workload or upcoming deadline. They're likely to be busiest at their fiscal year-end, answering client questions and performing various end-of-year tasks. The role typically involves sitting at a desk most of the day and sometimes travelling to meet clients to discuss their portfolios. Depending on the company, flexible working arrangements may be available to you. For instance, your employer may allow you to work remotely for a pre-determined number of hours a week.

Related: FAQ: What are the average investment banker hours?

Job prospects and advancement opportunities

Investment management is often a career that takes time to develop after university. Usually, investment managers spend several years working in junior roles before becoming a manager. Working in these roles allows you to develop your abilities and gain practical experience in finance and investments. You might begin your career as a finance or investment assistant and advance to a management or senior position. One career progression option is to work with a single organisation for several years in your early career to gain experience and receive a promotion.

If you work for a single company, you may have shadowing opportunities to learn from experienced investment managers about the job's responsibilities. You may also have someone personally mentor you. Staying in one position can help you gain more experience with the company's operations to build a foundation for more senior responsibilities. If you want to seek a higher position at a different company, the skills you gain at your original job typically carry over into the new role. Having experience, regardless of the company, helps if a new employer wants you to have years of experience before applying.

Related: 14 of the best-paid jobs in finance

Earning potential and benefits

One benefit of starting a financial career is earning potential. Investment management can be very lucrative. As you gain seniority, your earning potential increases. In addition to your salary, there are often further financial and non-financial incentives to work in the field. Benefits such as performance bonuses, private medical coverage, life insurance and income protection are all advantages that might make investment management something you want to pursue.

Find investment manager jobs

Advantages of an investment management career

While earning potential and financial rewards are clear advantages of the career path, there are several others. For instance, as an investment manager, you may work with diverse clients with various needs. This can help keep your workload interesting and engaging. You also generally help people grow their investments, and contributing to their success can feel rewarding.

There's also the potential for flexibility in your work, especially as you achieve more senior positions. Flexibility can allow you to structure your work around other commitments. After gaining experience working for a financial services firm, you can start your own investment management business to pursue clients and create investment procedures.

Challenges of an investment management career

Investment management is often engaging and dynamic, but it also poses some challenges. Investment managers often make complex decisions for their clients, so they constantly monitor market trends and economic news. This takes time and energy. Sometimes, unpredictable and uncontrollable events occur, which may impact the market and the client's confidence in their investments. Managing uncertainty may prove challenging for some.

If clients lose confidence or feel unsure about their investments, they may contact you with queries outside business hours. Remaining engaged and connected at all times may affect your work–life balance. Investment management is highly competitive, so securing a good position often requires a strong academic background. Even if you have ample experience and prior success, it may still take time to find a job and secure your client's trust.

Related: A guide to financial systems (with key components)

Other important factors to consider

Here are a few other factors to consider if you want to pursue a career in investment management:

You may need more than a bachelor's degree

Since investment management is highly competitive, most candidates have an undergraduate degree. A postgraduate degree may help differentiate you from others and allow you to develop your investment management competencies. In a candidate pool saturated with university graduates, a postgraduate degree may give your application an advantage and prove your dedication to the field.

Early industry experience can be advantageous

Gaining investment finance experience early in your career can make you more competitive in the job market. It shows potential employers you already have and use your finance and mathematical talents in a practical workplace setting. Internships or job-shadowing schemes can be a way to gain this experience. Consider asking your university's careers service if they can help place you in these positions.

Related: How to write a CV for a finance internship (plus an example)

Be willing to commit to lifelong learning for career success

A habit of continual professional development can help ensure you have the current industry knowledge and are competitive and effective in a saturated marketplace. Joining a professional body can provide you access to industry training resources, professional certifications and a network. The Chartered Institute for Securities & Investment provides access to qualifications such as the Certificate in Investment Management.

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