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Finance majors learn about managing an organization's financial resources and capital structure, the functioning of capital markets and financial instruments and banking. Finance graduates find job opportunities in corporations, the investment and securities business, banks and other financial institutions. Students learn about: security analysis and valuation, security trading, government policy and financial markets, financial forecasting, capital structure, financial risk management, venture capital, security issuance and international finance.

A significant part of the coursework teaches you to understand risk and uncertainty, both at an intuitive level and at a technical level. More importantly, you learn to construct models of financial decisions, e.g. an investor’s portfolio choice problem, the issuance of securities by corporations and the structure of financial investments by banks.

Related Student Organizations

Finance & Investment Society
Capital Management Club
Fantasy Sports & Finance Club
International Finance Club
Investment Banking Club
Society of Personal Investment

Explore Study Abroad

Studying abroad is an excellent way to gain international experience that enhances your business education. Many students also consider a summer program or a short program embedded in a course. Students are encouraged to visit the Study Abroad section to learn more about study abroad opportunities and to meet with their academic advisor to discuss course planning. Students should complete Finance 300 prior to studying abroad for a semester. Please note that finance majors MUST have prerequisites for any finance courses they take abroad. Other common study abroad course options include core and breadth courses.

Because most investment-related internship recruiting happens in the spring semester of junior year, it is advisable that finance students considering these careers identify an alternate time to study abroad. These students are encouraged to speak with their academic or career advisor to help in the planning process.

Q: How do I declare a major in finance?

A: Students must be admitted to the Wisconsin School of Business in order to declare a major in finance. Please visit our Admissions page for more information. Students indicate their intended major when they apply to the business school. If they are admitted, the major(s) indicated will be declared for them. Students may change their major by completing a Business Major Declaration Form. Turn completed forms in to the front desk in 3150 Grainger Hall.

Q: How do I cancel the finance major?

A: Admitted business students may cancel their declared finance major by completing a Business Major Declaration Form. Turn completed forms in to the front desk in 3150 Grainger Hall.

Q: What are common parallel plans related to finance?

A: Common parallel plans that lead to careers related to finance include economics (College of Letters & Science), mathematics (L&S), statistics (L&S), or personal finance (School of Human Ecology). Students are encouraged to contact the Cross College Advising Service (http://www.ccas.wisc.edu/) or the appropriate school/college for advising related to these or other majors.

Q: How do I run a DARS report for the finance major?

A: Please see the following link for information on how to run a DARS report.

Q: Is it possible to double major?

A: Admitted business students may select up to a maximum of three business majors. Students also have the option of selecting one additional major in the College of Letters & Science (L&S). To declare an additional major in L&S, students should meet with an advisor for the L&S major and complete the L&S Major Declaration Form. Students should turn in the completed and signed form to 3150 Grainger Hall. Timely degree completion with multiple majors will depend on an individual student’s situation.

The following requirements must be met in order to complete a major in Finance, Investment, and Banking.  For detailed course descriptions, please consult the Course Guide.

 Please be aware of stated prerequisites for major courses (including business core courses) that need to be completed before taking the course.  Specific prerequisites can be found using the Course Guide.  A summary of the Finance pre-requisites can also be found here. If registered for statistics as a co-requisite, that class cannot be dropped without also dropping the finance course.

Students must be admitted to the Wisconsin School of Business to complete a major in Finance.

*Also satisfies the advanced math/statistics liberal studies requirement


Cynthia Adams
Faculty Associate
Director of the Nicholas Center for Corporate Finance and Investment Banking
cadams@bus.wisc.edu
MBA, MS, BA

Briana Chang
Assistant Professor
bchang@bus.wisc.edu
Ph.D., BS

Robert Cramer
Senior Lecturer
rcramer@bus.wisc.edu
Ph.D., MBA, BA

Bjorn Eraker
Associate Professor
beraker@bus.wisc.edu
Ph.D.

Wendy Eudey
Faculty Associate
Director of the Business Learning Center
geudey@bus.wisc.edu
Ph.D.

Mark Fedenia
Associate Professor
mfedenia@bus.wisc.edu
Ph.D., MS, BS

Michael Gofman
Assistant Professor
mgofman@bus.wisc.edu
Ph.D., MS, MA, BA, MBA

Brian Hellmer
Faculty Associate
Director of the Hawk Center for Applied Security Analysis
bhellmer@bus.wisc.edu
MS, BBA

James Hodder
Emeritus - Non-teaching
jhodder@bus.wisc.edu
BS, MBA, MA, Ph.D.

John Hoffmire
Faculty Associate
hoffmire@wisc.edu
Ph.D.

James Johannes
Professor
Director of the Puelicher Center for Banking Education
jjohannes@bus.wisc.edu
Ph.D., BA, MS

Oliver Levine
Assistant Professor
olevine@bus.wisc.edu
Ph.D., MA, BS

Belinda Mucklow
Senior Lecturer
bmucklow@bus.wisc.edu
MBA, Ph.D., MS

Elizabeth Odders-White
Associate Professor
ewhite@bus.wisc.edu
Ph.D., BS

Bulent Paker
Clinical Professor
bpaker@bus.wisc.edu
Ph.D., Ph.D., MS, MA, BS

Mark Ready
Professor
Department Chair for Finance, Investments and Banking, Academic Director of the Hawk Center for Applied Security Analysis
mready@bus.wisc.edu
Ph.D., MBA, BS

James Seward
Associate Professor
Executive Director of the Nicholas Center for Corporate Finance and Investment Banking
jseward@bus.wisc.edu
Ph.D., MBA

Youchang Wu
Assistant Professor
ywu@bus.wisc.edu
Ph.D., MA, BA

Finance is the integration of time, returns and risk and how they are interrelated.  Two pressing questions in finance are:

  • What do I invest in?
  • How do I pay for it?

Organizations that focus on finance include banks, credit card companies, insurance companies, consumer finance companies, corporations, stock brokerages, investment funds, government sponsored enterprises, education, and individuals.

Commercial & Retail Banking Overview

Commercial and retail bankers build relationships with individual and corporate clients to facilitate access to cash and manage their short, medium and long-term financial needs. Banking professionals provide a variety of services including account management, lending, investment management, treasury management, credit and risk analysis, fraud protection, and insurance. Banking careers can begin in a branch location or in a corporate office, and opportunities for advancement are abound.

Possible Job Responsibilities

  • Build long-term relationships with clients and help them identify solutions to their financial needs via loans, deposits, accounts, mortgages, etc.
  • Perform credit analysis and review corporate financial statements to provide lending support for mid-large size transactions
  • Work closely with the product development team to create and deliver financial products that meet the changing economic needs of clients
  • Strive to help maintain the overall soundness of the bank’s loan portfolio

Essential Skills

  • Relationship building skills
  • Analytical skills
  • Self-motivation
  • Communication skills
  • Fast learner

Corporate Finance Overview

Individuals working in corporate finance analyze capital budget projects, participate in long-range financial planning, analyze competitors, examine possible acquisitions, assess sales and analyze profit and loss models for specific product or service lines.  Analysts strive to ensure that the company stays on track from a strategic, financial standpoint.

Possible Job Responsibilities

  • Develop profitability models for new products and evaluate financial performance on a quarterly basis
  • Analyze and evaluate capital spending results versus investment expectations
  • Analyze cost of goods sold across product portfolio to find cost savings opportunities and create spreadsheets/presentations to communicate results to team
  • Perform industry competitor analysis to ensure product/service performance aligns with market goals

Essential Skills

  • Excel & PowerPoint – spreadsheets and software
  • Communication skills
  • Comfort with ambiguity and changing market
  • Problem solving skills using intuition and analysis
  • Team player

Investment Banking Overview

Individuals in investment banking advise client companies on capital generating strategies. This may include adding businesses to their portfolio of assets, selling off divisions or subsidiaries they no longer want to own, and/or merging themselves entirely with another company.  Investment bankers negotiate and structure deals by developing valuation models and pitch books, leading internal/client meetings, conducting due diligence, analyzing competitive markets, and participating in marketing and road shows. 

Possible Job Responsibilities

  • Develop financial models in Excel based on client needs using available financial products
  • Draft, edit and organize offering materials, management presentations and client pitches for senior bankers and ensure accuracy of data presented
  • Analyze a company’s strategic position relative to peers and assess its viability moving forward
  • Research and compile market data relating to prior or future transactions
  • Provide analytical support to mergers and acquisitions, public offerings, follow-on financings and other advisory services
  • Participate in calls and meetings with clients

Essential Skills

  • Attention to detail
  • Valuation modeling/DCF skills
  • Writing and presentation skills
  • Self-motivation
  • Confidence
  • Team player
  • Intellectual curiosity
  • Ability to work long hours
  • Capital IQ
  • Software: Capital IQ, Microsoft Excel

Investment Management Overview

Careers in investment management include private wealth management, private banking, asset management and personal finance.  Private bankers and wealth managers provide brokerage and money management services to wealthy clients to help grow their wealth across generations.  They may assist clients with estate planning, asset allocation, tax planning as well as their philanthropic interests.  Asset managers assist with investments, pension plans, fixed income, and real estate investments at the corporate level.  Personal financial advisors help individual clients invest their money wisely and minimize risk that could decrease the value of their assets. 

Possible Job Responsibilities

  • Help clients establish a comprehensive financial plan including estate planning, 401(k) retirement planning, mutual funds and 529 education funding
  • Market banking service products
  • Conduct research and analysis, monitor macroeconomic developments, integrate team views into the portfolio
  • Assist with product development and directly trade securities in accounts; monitor accounts

Essential Skills

  • Discretion
  • Knowledge of the markets
  • Trustworthiness
  • Relationship building ability
  • Morningstar, Bloomberg
  • Software: Morningstar, Bloomberg, Microsoft Excel, FactSet

Equity & Debt Capital Markets Overview

Equity and Debt Capital Markets professionals help raise money for companies and governments in the secondary markets. Equity Capital Markets analysts oversee activity in the equity-linked markets (stocks, equity derivatives) and assist clients with market communication following a transaction. Debt Capital Markets analysts are responsible for fixed income capital raising activities globally including financings, liability management, structured finance, hedging, derivatives, and capital structure.

Possible Job Responsibilities

  • Advise clients on optimal financing solutions for acquisitions, recapitalizations and capital expansions
  • Support senior professionals on corporate finance assignments including high yield, investment grade and privately placed debt and equity transactions
  • Conduct financial modeling and analysis, company valuations, company and industry research
  • Prepare security offerings and presentation materials
  • Meet with clients to determine needs/strategy (origination); create complex financial products on the desk (structuring); and determine market price, demand and documentation for transaction execution (syndication)
  • Serve as intermediary between issuers (sellers) and investors (buyers)

Essential Skills

  • Communication
  • Multi-Tasking
  • Perseverance
  • Self-Motivation
  • Confidence
  • Team player
  • Statistical aptitude
  • Analytical

Research Overview

Financial research provides the fundamental analysis behind investment decisions.  Researchers follow stocks and bonds, forecast the future earnings of companies, develop reports on industries and companies, scour company balance sheets and analyze interest rates, economies and industry assumptions to provide insight to investors.

Possible Job Responsibilities

  • Utilize financial software to analyze and formulate advisory strategies (buys, holds or sells) for institutional and individual clients
  • Research economies of various sectors and maintain model/data adjustments for each industry
  • Participate in client conference calls/meetings with senior staff
  • Develop an expertise in accounting adjustments to eliminate distortions

Essential Skills

  • Analytical
  • Ability to synthesize information and make well-informed decisions
  • Knowledge of markets and sustainability of cash flows
  • Communication
  • Attention to Detail
  • Self-Motivation
  • Confidence
  • Team Player
  • Intellectual Curiosity

Sales & Trading Overview

Individuals in sales and trading facilitate the buying and selling of stocks, bonds and securities in the secondary markets.

Possible Job Responsibilities

  • Work on an exchange floor or on an electronic desk building positions for and trading equities, bonds, municipals, fixed income, derivatives, foreign exchange, energy or commodities
  • Price and trade financial options
  • Design, test and implement trading models and strategies
  • Stay in constant communication with traders and risk managers throughout the trading day to mitigate risk and identify strategies leading to increased client profitability
  • Serve as intermediary between issuers (sellers) and investors (buyers)

Essential Skills

  • Strong mathematical and technological skills
  • Comfort with calculated risk taking
  • Confidence
  • Knowledge of financial products and passion for financial markets
  • Perseverance
  • Ability to react quickly
  • Attention to detail
  • Multi-tasking
  • Self-motivation
  • Competitive attitude
  • Team player
  • Intellectual curiosity
  • Innovative, creative and strategic thinking

Alternative Finance, Investment & Banking Career Paths

Finance professionals may also consider careers in operations, hedge funds, private equity, venture capital, quantitative finance, government, corporate accounting, real estate and financial consulting.

Meet the academic and career advisors for Finance, Investment and Banking.

Kristin Determan
Undergraduate Academic Advisor
kdeterman@bus.wisc.edu
Kathleen Rause
Undergraduate Career Advisor
krause@bus.wisc.edu

Please see your Student Center for academic advisor contact information.

Please visit the advising page for information on advising and appointments.