Corporate Finance or Investment Finance: Comparing Two Tracks

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Two investment finance professionals collaborate.

Due to ever-changing economic environments and growing technological innovation, the financial sector has presented more possibilities for industry professionals. Around the world, employers are looking for skilled, driven, and knowledgeable financial experts who will bring added value to their team and portfolio of work. A master’s degree in finance may provide just the foundation needed to meet employer demands and secure a place as a leader in the industry.

By choosing Northeastern University‘s Online Master of Science in Finance (MSF) program, you will attend a prestigious business school that can advance your expertise, prepare you for leadership roles, and give you real-world practice – all without needing to attend the classroom environment.

The curriculum emphasizes on experiential knowledge. During the 30-credit-hour program, students cover a breadth of finance topics in six core courses and four electives.
Core subjects include strategy and investment analysis, and elective topics include business turnarounds and portfolio management. Additionally, Northeastern’s Online MSF Program offers two optional tracks to choose from – corporate finance or investment finance. Here are the features and benefits of both:

Corporate Finance Track

This track addresses how companies source and allocate capital to meet business goals. Such objectives include for-profit organizations’ maximizing shareholder value. Within this track, students expand their knowledge of several subjects. One example is capital budgeting, which involves organizations determining how to best invest their capital through an analysis of projected future cash flow and expenditures, among other factors. Students are able to advance their knowledge of financial management and valuation issues under the following focused areas of study:

  • Strategic planning
  • Mergers and acquisitions
  • Venture capital
  • Treasury management
  • Financial risk management
  • Investment banking
  • Private equity

Courses in the Corporate Finance Track
To become more specialized through the corporate finance track, students can choose their four electives from the following:

  • Financial Risk Management
  • Investment Banking
  • Mergers and Acquisitions
  • Business Turnarounds
  • Valuation and Value Creation

Corporate Finance course highlights
In the Mergers and Acquisitions course, students explore the climate that gave rise to a large number of corporate mergers and the business factors that lead to these large-scale corporate consolidations. By examining everything from accounting to legal factors undergirding mergers and acquisitions, students can learn how to appraise a potential merger and how to structure one for beneficial outcomes.

Meanwhile, in the Business Turnarounds course, students can learn how to diagnose, prescribe, and implement actions relating to various business turnaround activities, including bankruptcies, liquidations, and workouts. Instructors highlight key case studies and readings to guide students through the complex environment of ethical, legal, and general business issues associated with corporate turnarounds.

Corporate Finance career outcomes
Students who complete this track can improve their competitiveness for several careers. Economic trends in particular can present opportunities for professionals who gain new skills while specializing in corporate finance. For instance, a 2018 Deloitte survey of 1,000 executives revealed 70 percent of U.S. respondents believe merger and acquisition deal flow will rise in the following year. Companies will need skilled finance professionals to guide these transactions, as well as address other factors that present risks and opportunities.

Potential corporate finance careers include:

  • Budget analyst: Median salary of $75,240, 7 percent job growth from 2016 to 2026, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
  • Financial manager: Median salary of $125,080, 19 percent job growth from 2016 to 2026

Investment Finance Track

In this track, students focus on portfolios of securities and financial instruments. Topics within this track include futures contracts analysis and exchange, which require expertise in speculation and hedging, among other skills. Other topics in this track include:

Electives

  • Private wealth management
  • Equity and fixed-income securities
  • Performance analysis
  • Financial risk management

Required courses
To further specialize with the investment finance track, students can select four of their elective courses from the following:

  • Financial Risk Management
  • Fixed Income Securities and Risk
  • Investment Banking
  • Valuation and Value Creation
  • Real Estate Finance and Investment
  • Portfolio Management

Investment Finance Course Highlights
In the Fixed Income Securities and Risk class, students learn about theory, applications, and evidence regarding sensitive interest rate products. Instructors facilitate discussions about new developments in areas ranging from asset/liability management to concurrent interest rate and exchange rate management. Additional topics covered may include anything from confronting domestic and international financial and corporate management to how to customize a risk management program.

The Portfolio Management course details portfolio construction, revision, and measurement. Instructors may cover subjects ranging from the effects of diversification on risk reduction to transaction costs on fixed-income and equity security portfolios.

Investment Finance career outcomes
Students that pursue the Investment Finance track can seek roles related to investments for individuals and entities. Wealth management in particular could continue to see increasing demand as more Baby Boomers approach or reach retirement age, especially in the U.S. and U.K., according to Fidelity Worldwide Investment. These consumers need advisors to help them allocate their retirement and other assets, and organizations that manage funds related to these transactions need analysts who can maximize returns while limiting risk.

Potential investment finance careers include:

  • Financial analyst: Median salary of $84,300, 11 percent job growth from 2016 to 2026, according to the BLS
  • Personal financial advisor: Median salary of $90,640, 15 percent job growth from 2016 to 2026

Corporate Finance vs. Investment Finance: Which track should you choose?

The decision of choosing to pursue one of these two specialized track depends on both the career goals and interest of each individual. Both tracks were designed by industry experts to provide an ever-evolving and relevant path to success in the field. Additionally, the MSF program overall can help professionals build their network further to find the right job for either area of expertise.

By connecting with instructors and peers in an online environment, students can extend their networking capabilities beyond their offices and surrounding communities. These connections can help these finance professionals explore opportunities that align with their career goals. You can learn more about Northeastern University’s Online MSF program and admission requirements here..

Recommended Readings:
What the future of finance may look like
Active versus passive investing

Sources:
Northeastern University’s Online MSF Program
Northeastern University Online MSF Curriculum
Northeastern University Online MSF Program Details
The CEO’s guide to corporate finance by McKinsey & Company
Definitions and Examples of Capital Budgeting by Houston Chronicle
Corporate Finance: What is ‘Corporate Finance’ by Investopedia
The state of the deal: M&A trends 2018 by Deloitte
Occupational Outlook Handbook: Budget Analysts by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Occupational Outlook Handbook: Financial Managers by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Futures: What are ‘Futures’ by Investopedia
What is a Futures Contract? By The Balance
Ageing Boomers: how wealth and health will shape retirement by Fidelity Worldwide Investment
Occupational Outlook Handbook: Financial Analysts by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Occupational Outlook Handbook: Personal Financial Advisors by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics