Many people have heard about how the recent yield curve inversion could prove to be a harbinger of difficult economic situations to come. For a lot of us, memories of the 2008 crash and its ensuing recession are still fresh.
Those who are considering an employment transition might find the financial examiner career path to be enticing under these circumstances.
The reasons for this are twofold. First, people who find themselves in precarious employment situations might be wise to acquire new skills in fields with greater job security and growth potential, and demand for financial jobs is predicted to grow. Second, since financial examiners are concerned with ensuring financial stability for institutions and protecting consumers, many people could derive a great deal of satisfaction from such a job.
Let’s explore what a financial examiner is, what these professionals do, how to become one, and future prospects for the field.
What is a financial examiner?
Financial examiners are compliance experts who ensure that financial institutions, such as banks, are operating legally and responsibly. They review official records such as balance sheets, loan documentation, and even meeting minutes, and they report on their findings.
Financial examiners are also responsible for analyzing and interpreting the effects of new legislation and policies. They may then have to translate these regulations into actionable guidelines to ensure institutions are able to maintain compliance with relevant statutes.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), most financial examiners work in either risk assessment or consumer compliance.
Financial examiners who work in risk assessment:
- Interpret the soundness of institutions and financial products
- Assess cash levels against possible losses
- Grade the management of financial institutions
Financial examiners who work in consumer compliance:
- Protect borrowers by ensuring financial institutions operate appropriately
- Guard against predatory lending practices
- Ensure institutions do not discriminate against protected classes
What qualities should a financial examiner possess?
Financial examiners must possess strong numerical understanding, as well as exceptional background knowledge regarding financial institutions, their products, oversight, and regulation. They also need to be adaptable, as financial regulations change regularly, and ensuring compliance means keeping up to date.
Additionally, financial examiners should have strong character. Their job depends on their ability to respond to the discovery of unsound or unethical financial behavior and to deal with it resolutely.
Financial examiners should also be able to demonstrate the following transferable soft skills:
- Analytical aptitude
- Writing ability
- Detail-oriented mindset
In what environments do financial examiners work?
According to the BLS, financial examiners work for a mix of organizations within the government and across the private sector, and as part of their job, they may have to travel for onsite inspections. Many financial examiners work in credit intermediation for lenders. Others work in securities and commodities. There are financial examiners who also work in government at the state or federal level. For instance, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) employs bank and compliance examiners. Financial examiners may have to travel for onsite inspections.
How much does a financial examiner earn?
The most recent figures available from PayScale indicated that the average financial examiner salary is $59,811. The BLS pegged the average salary for the field at just over $80,000. The way these two organizations classify financial examiners may account for the disparity.
When we look deeper at the PayScale salary curve relative to seniority, it becomes clear that those with more experience, at least five years or so, can expect to make somewhere in the $70,000 bracket or higher, while those who are just starting out average around $50,000.
These are base salary figures. Financial examiners may also be able to earn bonuses or be eligible for profit sharing.
How does one become a financial examiner?
A career as a financial examiner is not necessarily a uniform experience. Professional certification courses and specific training programs from individual employers exist. Career changers will likely be more marketable entering this field if they have a master’s degree―or at least a bachelor’s degree―from an accredited college or university.
The field is highly technical, so experience in the industry and expertise with specialized knowledge of financial products, transactions, and institutions will go a long way toward distinguishing job seekers looking to start this career.
What is the career outlook for financial examiners?
The BLS predicts 7% growth in employment for financial examiners between 2018 and 2028. Previously, the founding of the Consumer Financial and Protection Bureau created many jobs for financial examiners in the federal government, but the BLS does not currently predict significant federal employment expansion for the field over the coming decade. The overall political landscape, economic outlook, and financial developments will certainly impact the future employment of financial examiners.
The job outlook for those with a finance degree seems primed for expansion on pace with that of financial examiners. The BLS predicted that overall employment in business and finance will grow 7% over the next decade.
A finance degree is evidence that a professional has completed coursework with direct relevance to a fast-evolving professional landscape. Direct experience in the field will also help job seekers stand out, especially if they lack an immediately relevant work history and they don’t already have a degree related to this career path. Pursuing a new advanced degree that incorporates experiential learning could be beneficial to people who want to join this occupation.
Northeastern University offers an Online Master of Science in Finance through the D’Amore-McKim School of Business. This program incorporates experiential learning and is completed entirely online to accommodate working students. Students can choose between Corporate Finance or Investment Finance tracks, completing coursework in less than a year and a half. Depending on their career goals, students can also choose to combine the MSF with an MBA.
Learn more about how the online Master of Science in Finance degree program helps prepare students to become financial examiners or pursue similar careers.