To start with, anybody who attempts to create a list, any list is always on a slippery wicket.
First, any list does involve a certain bit of subjectivity and thus it will never be perfect. Despite all this one must attempt to create a list.
After all, a list helps us in the simplest way to know why we decide to take a certain action.
When I began creating the list of top courses in finance available in India I thought of keeping the big daddy i.e. the MBA in Finance out of the list.
After all, we all know what an MBA in finance can do for us.
But, I didn’t want to exclude it for the sake of it as I know the popularity of the course.
Keeping this in mind I’m going ahead with a list of top finance courses available in India which would help you to make good of your passion.
I have broadly divided the courses into the following sections:
- Statutory Courses
- Specialized courses
Probably the most obvious choice for anybody who wishes to make a career in financial services is to do an MBA in finance.
The advantage that an MBA has over any other format is that it allows you a good all round exposure to various aspects of finance, whether it’s accounting, cost accounting, financial modeling, statistics and so on.
Additionally if you choose your minors well, you can have exposure to fields like marketing, behavioral science, human resources etc. Thus giving you the best possible chance for growth in the financial services industry.
However, be warned, that a lot of your ability to jumpstart may be dependent on a combination of economic factors, the strength of your placement cell, your alumni and also your independent ability to network.
If you wish to be on the global stage then do remember that MBAs from Harvard, Stanford, and INSEAD have to do their bit of hunting as well. Even the hallowed IIMs do not officially guarantee you a placement.
The Statutory courses are the ones which have been created by acts of parliament and hence create binding obligations under certain circumstances. Under statutory courses we can include the following
2. Chartered Accountant
Probably the most well-known statutory course, this course was created as a result of the enactment of the Chartered Accountants Act in 1949.
The course involves a combination of theory and more importantly practical training which run synchronously to provide student with the necessary wherewithal required of a professional accountant.
A good grounding in this profession creates opportunities few courses can match.
Chartered Accountancy allows you to have rewarding careers in consultancy, audit practice, investment banking, and information technology to name a few.
The profession allows you probably the best chance in finance to create a location independent career. You can find successful chartered accountants in many small towns where a lot many other professions may not flourish.
The chartered accountancy course also opens the doors for an international career. An Indian CA after clearing certain local papers can easily practice in countries like United Kingdom and Australia to name a few. Additionally, with the increasing introduction of International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) if you become a chartered accountant then world is your oyster.
3. Cost Accountant
This course came into being as a result of the Cost and Works Accountants Act, 1959. The act regulates the profession of cost and management accountancy.
A Cost and Management Accountant (CMA) is a person who performs services which involve accounting for cost of manufacturing an item, pricing the goods and services produced verification or certification of taxation, especially with respect to indirect taxation.
Unlike pure accounting professionals say chartered accountants, the demand for a cost accountant is a cross organization phenomenon. The marketing department needs you in preparing quotations for tender responses; the production department needs you to make better decisions on a profitable product mix, the purchase department wouldn’t move without the cost accountants advice for taking the make or buy decisions and in top management you play a critical role in identifying business risks and their mitigation.
To use a cricket analogyyou would be the all-rounder in the team.
4. The Company Secretary
The course was a result of the Company Secretaries Act 1980.
The Company Secretary is primarily the mediator between the management and the organization’s board of directors.
Company secretaries are involved in creating policies for the company, maintaining legal records, taking care of public issues, managing mergers and acquisitions related activities. Additionally they liaise as agents of the company while negotiating with a number of government authorities.
A Company secretary has a positive chance of being employed with management consulting firms, banks, corporates and regulatory bodies besides having an option to practice independently.
You as a company secretary are also a sought after professional for positions abroad with multi-national companies. There is a burgeoning demand for Company Secretaries in the UK, the USA, and many other countries in the western world.
With the appropriate set of knowledge and skills, you as a company secretary can look forward to a rewarding career.
If you are an actuary then your job would be to assess the financial impact of risk and uncertainty.
Actuaries assess the financial security systems, keeping a hawk’s eye on their complexity, the mathematics involved in the same and their mechanisms.
Actuaries try to use mathematics to evaluate the probability of events and minimize the impacts of financial losses associated with an event which is not only uncertain but is undesirable.
Many events like death cannot be avoided, however as an actuary your job is to do the needful to minimize their financial impact if as and when they occur. These risks have the possibility of impacting both sides of the balance sheet. Thus you would be required to have the requisite skills in asset management, liability management, and valuation skills.
An actuary is expected to have the analytical skills, business knowledge and understanding of human behavior which is required to design and manage programs that assess and control risk. If you are an actuary then you would be most likely employed in the Insurance industry but also in corporate houses like Reliance which issues 100 year or perpetual bonds. The profession is governed by the Actuaries act of 2006.
Specialized courses are the ones where a certain skill set is developed for an industry
6. Chartered Financial Analyst
The Chartered Financial Analyst degree is one of the toughest to crack but probably one of the most rewarding certifications to have.
In fact in the financial services world, the CFA charter holder is one of the few courses which give an MBA-Finance a serious run for money.
If you are a CFA charter holder then you are one of the most valued people in any organization. You are looked up to for your insights backed by analytical inputs.
This certification is extremely useful if you want to make a career in equity research, investment banking or fund management.
However if you choose to pursue this course there is one piece of advice: Start early (Soon after you graduate or along with your MBA), because it takes almost 3 years of dedication and not many are able to crack it for reasons which vary from work pressure, family commitments to sheer boredom of studying for three years.
7. The Certified Financial Planner
If you wish to make a career out of wealth management then being a CFP is almost a must have.
This course gives you in depth training in various aspects of personal finance like tax planning, insurance planning, state planning etc.
You can consider the certified financial planner to be like the general practitioner MBBS.
You as a CFP are the best bet that people have in managing their growing wealth.
In India there is a dearth of good financial planners. As per some market estimates, India needs close to 50,000 financial planners and not even 10% has been met.
The CFP certification is valid in 23 countries in the world including Australia, UK etc. Financial Planning Standards Board (FPSB) India is the authorized regulatory body for this course in India.
Yes that economics degree is also a good bet for making a career in financial services. After all, it’s the economists who create all the policies which determines whether the country grows or flounders.
Economists are valued in the financial services industry for predicting impact of policies that may impact business performance and make informed decisions on how policies would move and how the business should react to the changing policies.
If you chose to become an economist then the financial services world would look to you just like many people look to astrologers, i.e. to understand complex inputs and give guidance on how to use the available resources for creating valuable outputs.
A statistician is responsible for the collection, assessment, explanation and presentation of quantitative data.
You as a statistician provide insights, commendations, and advice on policy and strategy to clients within and outside your organization.
You as a statistician are responsible for monitoring data collection and using modeling techniques, both mathematical and statistical. You would also be expected to present your findings along with providing strategic advice on how best to use the results.
Thus do give an honest shot at clearing the M Stats exam at the Indian Statistical Institute.
10. Chartered Alternate Investment Analyst
The CAIA Charter is the globally recognized credential for professionals managing, analyzing, distributing, or regulating alternative investments.
The CAIA Charter designation is the highest standard of achievement in alternative investment education and provides deep knowledge, demonstrated expertise, and global credibility in alternatives.
11. Financial Risk Manager
Since 2008, the element of risk management has come to the fore like anything.
If you were to choose to become a Financial Risk Manager then you would be expected to manage risk that accompanies any investments and would like to broaden their knowledge for the same.
This course is suitable for people seeking employment in risk management in banks, corporates, non-banking financial firms and corporate houses.
This course helps people in their early stages by exposing them to the breadth of the curriculum covering major strategic aspects of risk management;on the other hand the course helps established professional keep up with the latest trends.
12. Financial Modeling and Investment Banking Programs
Financial Modeling skills are must for equity research and investment banking careers.
If you want to make a career in financial research, equity research, investment banking, and other core finance areas, then having MBA or CFA degrees alone won’t help.
You need to learn skills that are required to do the actual work on the job.
You can learn the skills by online or classroom programs.
As per my experience and interaction with students, Indian students prefer classroom programs.
Have I Missed Anything?…
I have covered almost all the courses in finance available in India.
Please let me know if I missed any course or you want to know something specific.