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Fabulous at Finances? Maybe non-profits are right for you

By Lucas Laursen

Financial training can mean more than just working for a bank or insurance company. Here we outline non-profit, in-house, and asset management opportunities for experienced financiers.

Is the relentless message of total commitment to the firm starting to wear down your enthusiasm for finance? Many people find a compromise in finance careers with non-profit organizations. Maybe you have a conscience, maybe you want to have a family, or maybe you have a pet cause. If you have serious financial skills and dedication, you may find that a finance career with a non-profit is for you.

Non-profit businesses require all the same quantitative and human skills that any other firm does, but the profits go into the cause, not the shareholders. The culture makes all the difference. Non-profits tend to include generous benefits and vacation packages, with more flexible hours to make up for salaries that are 10-20% less than for-profit positions.

Because of the smaller size of the sector and lower turnover, these jobs are rarely offered to entry-level applicants. Instead, consider spare-time volunteering with non-profits to gain an understanding of their own unique culture. When it comes time to convince a skeptical hiring manager why you'd be willing to take a $10,000 pay cut, some insider experience and proven dedication to your pet cause should pay off.

Corporate Finance

You can also take your banking skills with you after a few years at an investment bank and work in-house at a business, as many businesses prefer to internalize some of their financial services. Depending on the employer, someone in corporate finance may end up managing liquid assets, providing financial advice for the long-term, or liaising with outside financial service providers.

Like non-profit jobs, corporate finance careers tend to offer stability and a better lifestyle than banking. These jobs probably fit someone who can think in the long-run and wants to advance within the company. So it will be important to look after both the company's financial security and your own political position.

Asset Management

The wealth of the elite is handled by asset managers, though the details differ and it may go under different names like wealth management, investment management, or fund management. If you've heard of massive funds making 20% yearly profits and want a piece of the action, it's time you learned about asset management.

Asset managers create a portfolio of investments using funds raised by wealthy investors. Consider it an enlightened mutual fund with fewer restrictions. They seek above-average returns through aggressive investment strategies. Employment as an analyst in these firms is not considered entry-level. In fact, most hiring appears to occur laterally, through related financial careers.

The head honchos of the asset management business are the fund managers themselves. Performance of the funds seems to correlate more strongly with individual fund managers than with overall strategies, and fund managers who grow wealthy enough have been known to abandon their firms in pursuit of managing their own wealth.

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