How Do I Become a Mutual Fund Manager?

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Mutual fund managers tend to be well-compensated, generally taking home a percentage of the fund's total assets. They frequently also receive an incentive bonus if their fund outperforms a certain market benchmark, such as the S&P 500 or the Lehman Bond Aggregate. The career is demanding, however. Successful fund managers spend several years learning the ropes as stock or bond analysts and assistant portfolio managers and often spend long hours researching companies and reading annual reports.

  • Complete a bachelor's degree. There is no formal requirement for a specific undergraduate degree, however, solid coursework in finance, economics and mathematics will serve you in good stead as a mutual fund manager.

  • Obtain a master's degree. Typically, mutual fund managers will obtain a master's degree in finance, business administration, economics or a related field. If they run a fund specializing in a certain field, such as utilities, energy or technology, they may hold an advanced degree in that field. Doctorate degrees are not required, but are not unheard of among fund managers either.

    While there is no formal requirement, mutual fund companies tend to prefer candidates with undergraduate and masters' degrees from well-regarded schools, such as the Wharton Business School, Harvard, Princeton, Stanford and schools of that caliber.

  • Become a certified financial analyst, or CFA. To become a CFA, you must complete a demanding series of tests designed and administered by the CFA Institute. These tests will measure your grasp of advanced finance and accounting principles, risk management, modern portfolio theory and other advanced topics in the world of finance and security analysis.

  • Market yourself to mutual fund companies. The first step on the ladder, once you are out of school, is typically the job of analyst. You will assist the mutual fund manager by screening investment opportunities, bringing the most promising opportunities to the attention of the manager and arguing the case. If your recommendations are sound, you may be offered a shot at managing a fund of your own. In some cases, analysts leave one company to take a job as a fund manager at another.

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