Asset management is the ongoing process of developing and maintaining a portfolio of investments on behalf of a company or an individual. Financial institutions possess unique expertise in financial markets, portfolio construction, and risk analysis, which they put to work for clients seeking to optimize the performance of their assets over time while minimizing potential downside risks.
With an expanding universe of financial products to choose from, as well as increased uncertainty in markets due to the COVID-19 pandemic, savvy asset management is more important than ever. And, while the field of asset management isn’t new, it has evolved just as quickly as the opportunities and risks of the market.
The age of big data and powerful computing has opened the door to financial engineering approaches to asset management, with sophisticated quantitative analysis techniques used to mathematically optimize portfolios to an unprecedented degree. At the other end of the spectrum, insights from behavioral finance are helping asset managers anticipate the way built-in cognitive biases can influence investment strategies for individuals and across markets.
A background in asset management is essential for financial managers, including controllers, finance officers, treasurers, and similar roles. These expert asset managers are responsible for directing and monitoring the ongoing performance of investments by corporations as well as banks, investment firms, and other financial institutions.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, financial managers earned a median annual wage of $129,890 in 2019, and many employers seek applicants with a master’s degree in finance, accounting, economics, or business administration. These jobs are projected to grow much faster than the overall job market due to the challenges (and opportunities) of navigating an increasingly complex investment landscape.
Personal financial advisors provide similar services as financial managers, but they work for individuals instead of businesses or banks. These advisors provide guidance on financial planning and investments to match their client’s long-term goals, and, while some may work for banks and other financial institutions, others are self-employed. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, they earn significantly less than financial managers with a median annual salary of $87,850, but this career is also more accessible since bachelor’s degrees (instead of master’s degrees) and on-the-job training are more common.
Certainly, Coursera offers courses and Specializations in asset management and related finance topics geared towards every level of learner. Whether you’re a beginner who wants to start with an overview of financial markets or a mid-career professional looking for a deep dive into quantitative modeling, Coursera offers an opportunity to learn from top-ranked institutions like Yale University, Rice University, the University of Geneva, and the University of Pennsylvania. The ability to learn on a flexible schedule also allows busy professionals to learn asset management while managing their own time wisely.
The skills and experience that you need to already have before starting to learn asset management may likely involve a high degree of personal financial success on your own. This may be an important factor, as working in asset management involves managing investments for high-wealth individuals in areas like stocks and bonds, real estate, cryptocurrencies, futures trading, and private equity. Showing your own personal success may be a vote of confidence to a wealthy client that you have great insights for investment opportunities. It may also help if you have a fantastic network of wealthy people who love your ambition, drive, and persistence. They may simply like the way you roll. If you show consistently good returns for the clients, then you may be able to use that success as the experience needed to work in asset management.
The kind of people who are best suited for work that involves asset management are portfolio managers with financial experience who can analyze data on stocks and bonds to make good recommendations to a client for a solid investment opportunity. To gain the skills to rise to that level, these people are usually educated in finance, economics, and trading. These persons might also be strong with analytical discipline and financial knowledge. Often, the people working in asset management are driven by money and by the desire to create more wealth for others around them.
You might know if learning asset management is right for you if you're passionate about stocks, equities, mutual funds, cryptocurrencies, and watching videos on financial topics. Maybe you did great in school in financial courses and want to try a career in finance. Starting as a junior portfolio manager or assistant can certainly teach you how this financial field works. If you like to assess investment opportunities in real estate, mutual funds, or international companies and want to make a career from doing this work, then learning about asset management may be the right move for you.
This FAQ content has been made available for informational purposes only. Learners are advised to conduct additional research to ensure that courses and other credentials pursued meet their personal, professional, and financial goals.