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Top Financial Careers In 2012

Lewis Humphries

It is something of an irony that despite the precarious state of the global economy, a career within the financial sector remains a highly lucrative option. This apparent anomaly can be partially attributed to the fallout from the global recession of 2008, which has forced many individuals and businesses to change their financial philosophies and adopt a more frugal approach to managing their everyday activities. The demand for various services within the financial sector has subsequently risen sharply and increased the portents for long-term growth within the industry.

The Financial Planner: Helping People to Make the Most of Their Investments
It is hard to discuss the current economic tumult without considering the impact of the baby boomer generation in the United States. Representing nearly 20% of the American public, they not only dominate a significant portion of the nation's wealth, they have also proved themselves to be a flexible and extremely adaptable social group. They have had to display these qualities too, as the prolonged financial crisis has had a largely detrimental impact on their individual investments and capacity to achieve long-term financial rewards.

So as those within the baby boomer generation inch closer toward retirement, the demand for reputable financial planners and their professional advice has become an increasingly sought-after commodity. Fortunately, financial planning skills are not only highly coveted, but they also secure an average remuneration of $104,161 per annum. This is a 3% increase on the average salary earned in this profession during 2011, while the barriers to entry are diminishing, as fewer and fewer graduates are looking to break into this industry niche.

Actuaries: Evaluating and Minimizing Business Risks
If the continuing economic crisis has taught corporate America one thing, it is the importance of evaluating and minimizing financial cost and risk. This is an even more important consideration in the face of diminishing short-term earnings growth, with S&P 500 groups reportedly three times more likely to miss analysts' expectations of third quarter earnings, rather than exceed them. So the need to identify risk and minimize financial loss is pivotal, especially if businesses are to thrive and play active roles in encouraging economic growth.

Actuaries are individuals who analyze the financial costs and implications of any potential investment or market event; they achieve this by utilizing a combination of mathematical and fiscal theory. Although actuaries are paid less than financial planners, with an average annual salary of $88,202, they provide a service that has benefited from an increasing demand over the last four years, as the global economic crisis has deepened. The forecasts for prolonged economic uncertainty also suggest that actuaries can expect their profession to experience further growth between now and 2020, with employment rates set to surge by 27% during this time.

Wealth Managers: Prospering in a Strained Economy
Just as baby boomers are turning to financial planners to optimize their investment portfolio, so too banks and luxury global brands are employing the principles of wealth management to service those with a high net worth in the U.S. Leading banking institutions in particular are turning toward wealth management services as a way of restoring their fortunes, as they look to entice cash and asset-rich individuals to invest with them and boost their annual income stream.

So what exactly can you expect from your career as a wealth manager? Well, while there is the potential to earn a six- or seven-figure salary once you have grown to manage a successful corporate fund, the average rate of remunerations stands at between $65,000 and $85,000 per annum. The size of this salary, which is more than double the average annual U.S. wage of approximately $30,000, is slightly offset by the enhanced levels of stress associated with the role and the stringent need for undergraduate qualifications in finance, banking and accountancy.

The Bottom Line
Rather than diminishing demand for the services provided by financial planners, actuaries and wealth management professionals, the unfolding financial crisis has actually created an economic vacuum in which these individuals have been able to thrive. Citizens and business owners throughout the U.S. have been forced to heed difficult lessons in the wake of the recession, and this has created a more cautious investment culture and frugal approach to spending.

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