What can I do with a degree in Finance?

Matariki building

Where financial accounting measures past performance, Finance is forward-focused. It is largely about future planning for firms or investors. Finance consists of three interrelated subject areas which are concerned with the assessment of the trade-off between risk and reward. Corporate Finance studies how firms raise and efficiently utilise funds obtained from lenders and shareholders. Financial Markets and Institutions explores how the financial system facilitates the transfer of funds from savers and lenders to borrowers. Investment Analysis studies how investors choose securities and asset classes for their investment portfolios.

Through their Finance degree, graduates develop a valuable set of skills that are transferable to a range of careers. These skills include:

  • Logical and quantitative thinking
  • Practical application of financial concepts and principles
  • Numerical confidence
  • Analytical thinking
  • Problem solving skills
  • Computing techniques
  • Lateral and strategic thinking

Opportunities to apply your learning outside the classroom are available through work-integrated learning (eg, internships) and international study tours. These experiences deepen your skillset, working knowledge and employability.

Graduates in Finance find employment in many areas. Recent UC graduates have worked in:

  • Government eg, Treasury, Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, Reserve Bank of New Zealand, Statistics New Zealand
  • Banking eg, ANZ, ASB, Westpac, BNZ, Murray & Co, Bancorp Merchant Bankers, National Australia Bank, HSBC, Commonwealth Bank of Australia, China Guangfa Bank
  • Financial advisory services eg, KPMG, PwC, Deloitte, Financial Strategies Christchurch, Personal CFO
  • Management consultants and financial services eg, Accenture, BNY Mellon
  • Investment advisors eg, Hamilton Hindin Greene, Spring Financial Group, FNZC
  • Mortgage brokers eg, Loan Market
  • Trading firms eg, Epoch Capital
  • Telecommunications eg, Tait Communications
  • Oil and gas eg, BP, Acoustic Data
  • Construction eg, Fletcher EQR
  • Recruitment eg, Walker Hamill
  • Retail eg, Progressive Enterprises
  • IT and software eg, Jade Software, Oracle Australia, Ingram Micro
  • Manufacturing eg, Synlait
  • Insurance eg, NZI, Vero Insurance
  • Research institutes eg, Scion
  • Legal firms eg, Russell McVeagh
  • Not-for-profit agencies eg, The Blind Foundation
  • Cyber security eg, Cisco

Today it would be rare for a person to rise to the position of chief financial officer (CFO) without a strong grounding in finance. There are also many other career opportunities, from insurance or mortgage broker to hedge fund manager — see some examples of job titles and activities below.

Note: Some of the jobs listed may require postgraduate study. See the ‘Further study’ section.

Finance / commercial manager

  • Links the finance team to other business areas
  • Makes presentations and recommendations to leadership boards
  • Reports on and analyses business performance; budgeting, forecasting, financial modelling
  • Takes part in strategic planning
  • Manages financial staff
  • Develops ways to minimise financial risk

Financial advisor / associate / analyst

  • Gathers financial information and data
  • Uses analytical models to identify trends
  • Reviews clients’ financial situation and advises them on future plans and how to solve issues
  • Protects an organisation’s economic interests

Product manager, financial market analyst

  • Analyses production costs to set sale prices
  • Advises how to lower costs and increase profits

Investment broker, investment trader, share broker, financial trader, quant trader

  • Develops systems, algorithms, relationships and strategies to maximise assets/minimise risks
  • Specialises in stock, bond or other markets
  • Makes investment transactions and may offer advice to a client or organisation

Capital investment manager

  • Analyses financial details of capital projects
  • Undertakes cash flow analysis and opportunity cost of capital assessment
  • Makes recommendations regarding projects

Personal financial planner / advisor

  • Identifies a client’s financial goals
  • Prepares financial and/or investment plans
  • Provides households and individuals with help on decisions such as retirement planning, budgeting, insurance

Actuary

  • Assesses the likelihood of a particular event occurring and the possible financial costs
  • Looks at past trends to predict future outcomes
  • Presents reports, explains implications, and gives advice (often to non-specialists)

Data / statistical analyst

  • Collects, analyses and interprets data
  • Uses statistical techniques and models to identify and forecast results, trends and needs
  • Presents information to assist decision-making

Business development manager

  • Identifies and develops new markets/business
  • Builds and manages client relationships
  • Develop sales messages and gives presentations

Portfolio manager / consultant

  • Determines risk-return parameters for clients
  • Designs portfolio to maximise returns and minimise risks

Investment analyst / advisor

  • Does fundamental analysis for securities
  • Gives advice to meet a client’s financial goals
  • Provides buy or sell recommendations

Risk analyst / manager

  • Identifies and manages strategic, operational and other (eg, credit or regulatory) risks
  • Develops risk management policies, procedures
  • Oversees staff engagement and compliance

Consumer banker

  • Manages customer queries
  • Advises individuals and businesses on their financial needs and what services are available

Entrepreneur, Director and CEO

  • Develops an idea to form their own business
  • Gets involved in a start-up

Get started with Entrepreneurship here

As they progress, students and graduates often join professional bodies relevant to their area of interest. These organisations can provide regular communications and offer the chance to network with others in the same community.

Social media networks such as LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter can provide avenues to keep upto-date with industry knowledge, networking opportunities, events and job vacancies.

Learn from our students' experiences

For more information

see the Finance subject page