Often employed by large firms, financial planners assist individual clients on a long-term basis, advising them on personal financial matters including investments, retirement, estate planning, and tax matters. They must communicate effectively with clients, boiling down complex issues into understandable language. According to PayScale, financial planners earn an average wage of $63,000, while the BLS projects an uptick in demand for personal financial advisors of approximately 7% between 2018 and 2028.
Top Online MBA Programs in Financial Planning
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Prospective students can use the following rankings to find top online MBA programs in financial planning. This page also discusses further details about financial planning MBA programs, including curricula, careers, scholarships, and professional organizations.
What Is an MBA in Financial Planning?
An online master’s in financial planning prepares learners to understand the intricacies of the global financial markets so they can form financial plans for their future employers. They may learn about currency exchange, domestic and foreign securities, and financial management. The degree also readies students for financial reporting, budgeting, and dealing with regulatory issues.
With a focus on critical thinking as applied to financial decision-making, many programs prepare students to take the certified financial planner (CFP) exam, an industry standard that represents excellent and deep knowledge of the field.
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What Can You Do With an MBA in Financial Planning?
Financial analysts make specific investment recommendations to corporate or individual clients. They may focus on portfolio management, fund management, or risk analysis. As of May 2018, the BLS reports annual average earnings of $85,660 and projects 6% job growth from 2018-2028 for financial analysts, at a pace with the national average.
Typically employed by financial institutions, trust officers work directly with individual clients to help manage their trusts. They may prepare trust funds for clients and help them to develop investment strategies, oversee their organization’s regulatory compliance, and coordinate necessary paperwork. PayScale reports that trust officers earn an annual average wage of around $69,000.
Financial controllers oversee the financial operations of organizations. Their duties include managing and coordinating between departments such as accounting, budgeting, purchasing, and auditing. They prepare budget updates and other reports for executive management, and ensure regulatory compliance. PayScale reports average annual earnings of around $83,000 for controllers.
Financial managers handle overall financial operations for their organizations, ensuring good investment choices and analyzing data to help them develop strategies for long-term growth. They track and report the financial health of organizations, oversee budgets, and study markets for investment opportunities. The BLS reports that financial managers earned an annual median wage of $127,990 as of May 2018, and projects a 16% growth in demand for financial managers from 2018-2028 — far faster than the national average for all occupations.
Online MBA in Financial Planning Curriculum
By pursuing a top online MBA in financial planning, students receive a strong foundational education in business administration and financial planning. Because curricula vary by school, prospective students should check with their schools of interest to discover what they may offer.
Investment Theory and Portfolio Management
Coursework in emerging business technologies focuses on principles, theories, and processes of technology design and development. Students explore technological innovation, technological trajectories, and cycles of technology as they apply in business settings.
Tax Theory and Business Decisions
This course provides a foundational overview of business structure as it relates to taxation. Topics include tax policy, operational strategies, and taxation responsibilities for financial managers.
Theory and Practice of Financial Reporting
A critical skill set for financial planners, financial reporting requires knowledge of balance sheets, cash flow statements, and income statements. This course covers cash flow analysis, credit risk assessment, receivables and inventory, and financial reporting for owners’ equity.
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How to Choose the Right Online MBA in Financial Planning Program
Learners should consider a variety of factors when selecting a program, including accreditation, program focus, structure, cost, and extracurricular requirements.
Accreditation holds schools and programs to a set of officially approved standards. Regional and national accreditation analyze the school as a whole. Students pursuing an online MBA should also verify programmatic accreditation from an organization such as the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business.
Program focus varies among top online MBA programs in financial planning. Some programs focus more on personal finance, emphasizing estate and retirement planning. Others focus on corporate finance. Students seeking careers in financial planning should research each program carefully to ensure the curriculum aligns with their career goals.
Prospective students should also consider program structure, including location and cost. Some schools allow full- or part-time study, while others offer only one format. Some schools allow distance learners to pay in-state or otherwise reduced tuition regardless of state residency, while others charge higher rates for nonresidents. Consider any in-person MBA requirements, too, as distant locations involve increased travel costs.
Finally, students should seek programs with corresponding experiential components aligned to their career goals. Some schools require internships, capstones, or a final thesis, which could offer opportunities to gain relevant experience. A top online MBA curriculum may also include experiences such as trips to financial hubs like Chicago or New York.
Scholarships for Financial Planning MBA Programs
Aspiring financial planners can find a variety of scholarships, fellowships, and grant opportunities to help fund their studies in a top online MBA program. Many local organizations, state offices, and professional associations offer scholarships and grants. The list below offers details on a few scholarships available to MBA students.
Mary Elizabeth Lockwood Beneventi MBA Scholarship
Stuart Cameron and Margaret McLeod Memorial Scholarship
Who Can Apply: Student members of the Institute of Management Accountants can apply for this merit-based scholarship designed for those planning careers in accounting, management, and finance.
Accounting and Financial Women's Alliance Scholarships
Who Can Apply: Outstanding scholars enrolled in an accredited master’s program for accounting or finance may apply to AFWA’s finance and accounting scholarship. Membership is not required, though chapter recommendations may boost applications.
AfterCollege Business Student Scholarship
Who Can Apply: Students working toward a business degree who hold a minimum 3.0 GPA and AfterCollege membership can apply for this scholarship. Applicants must submit a 200-word personal statement and a list of hard and soft skills.
Goldberg-Miller Public Finance Scholarship
Who Can Apply: The Government Finance Officers Association awards this scholarship to a graduate business student with demonstrated intent to pursue a career in state or local government finance. Candidates must submit academic records and letters of recommendation.
Professional Organizations for Financial Planning
Students and graduates can boost their careers through membership in professional organizations. Professional organizations can inspire students to better serve their fields and help set them up for career success. Member benefits typically include online networking, local chapter membership, annual conferences, and other opportunities for professional development.
Serving a membership of commission-free personal financial advisors, NAPFA offers a wealth of professional development opportunities. Member benefits include industry news, professional discounts, and an active online community.
AFP supports financial professionals and treasurers through two prestigious professional credentials. Additional membership benefits include live and recorded training sessions, virtual roundtables, in-person events for networking, and career tools.
Designed for certified financial professionals and students who plan to seek certification, FPA advocates for the highest standards in the business. The association supports its members through a robust online community, 86 local chapters, and certified continuing education webinars.
Dedicated to supporting insurance experts and financial advisors across industries, NAIFA represents its members through legislative advocacy. Member benefits include monthly meetings, a consumer directory, a virtual library, and leadership opportunities.
With a membership that includes accountants, CPAs, insurance experts, and financial advisors across a variety of expertise, FSP offers regular publications, local chapters, and ongoing continuing education.
How We Rank Online MBA Programs
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