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Finance, Investment, and Banking Major

What You’ll Learn

Gain a holistic understanding of the finance industry and its many career paths. From Wall Street trading to the financial structures of startups and large corporations, learn how finance impacts the business world and society at large.

Topics, skills, and concepts

  • Financial markets, investment analysis, valuation, financial modeling, trading, risks and returns, data-driven decision-making, financing and governance policies, corporate restructuring, forecasting, capital structure
  • Analytics, accounting, financial planning, financial technology, history of finance, the impact of finance on business, society and sustainability

in the U.S. for undergraduate finance programs
U.S. News & World Report, 2022-2023

Prepare for Your Finance Career

Average starting salary


Key employers

J.P. Morgan Chase, Robert W. Baird, General Mills, Goldman Sachs, Rothschild, Procter & Gamble, MorningStar, BMO Financial Group

Knowledge and abilities

  • Excel; Python; other analytical, database, and financial analysis software
  • Teamwork, attention to detail, problem solving, perseverance, communication, innovative/strategic mindset, relationship building, intellectual curiosity

Common job titles

  • Financial Analyst
  • Investment Banking Analyst
  • Financial Planner
  • Trader
  • Credit Analyst
  • Risk Management Analyst/Underwriter

Common Career Paths

Corporate finance deals with the sources of funding and the capital structure of corporations. Managers use tools and analysis to allocate a company’s financial resources and increase the value of the organization to its shareholders. Professionals in corporate finance are required to perform forecasts, projections, and profit/loss models for long range corporate financial planning, potential acquisitions and asset sales. They may also analyze competitor performance in a market and assess internal product/service line performance. Short-term issues include the management of current assets and current liabilities and inventory control. Long-term issues include new capital purchases and investments.

Consumer banking refers to the division of a bank that deals directly with retail customers. Also known as personal banking, consumer banking is the visible face of banking to general public individuals while a commercial bank is a financial institution that provides various financial services to businesses and corporations. Professionals with roles in both types of banks work to build relationships with individuals (consumer) and businesses (commercial). They must also be able to analyze credit to administer accounts, loans, mortgages, money management, treasury services, currency exchanges, and other financial services.

Investment bankers advise client companies, governments and other entities 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 banks underwrite new debt and equity securities for all types of corporations, aid in the sale of securities, and help to facilitate mergers and acquisitions, divestitures, reorganizations, fairness opinions and broker trades for both institutions and private investors. Investment banks also provide guidance to issuers regarding the issue and placement of stock (also known as IPOs). 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.

  • Asset Management: Asset Management is the oversight of all or part of a client’s portfolio by a financial services institution. Institutions offer investment services along with a wide range of traditional and alternative product offerings that might not be available to the average investor. Asset managers assist with investments, pension plans, fixed income, and real estate investments at the corporate level.
  • Investment Management: Investment management is a generic term that most commonly refers to the buying and selling of investments within a portfolio. The term most often refers to portfolio management and the trading of securities to achieve a specific investment goal.
  • Sales & Trading: Sales and trading is one of the key functions of an investment bank. The term refers to the various activities relating to the buying and selling of securities or other financial instruments. Typically an investment bank will perform these tasks on behalf of itself and its clients. People in these roles execute and manage exchanges in the securities, bonds, fixed income, municipals, commodities, derivatives, and FX markets. They also must serve as the liaison between buyers and sellers in the markets.
  • Buy-side Finance: Buy-side finance refers to a market segment of investment firms that buy securities or invest in a business, manage that investment over time and generate a return or profit. Examples of buy-side finance functions include private equity, hedge funds, mutual funds, pension funds, and venture capital.

Professionals in this field provide wealth management and personal planning for high-net-worth clientele. Badgers in wealth management work in asset allocation, tax, estate, risk management/insurance, and philanthropic planning.

  • Many professionals in the wealth management space pursue the Certified Financial Planner (CFP) certification. It is quickly becoming a premier career pathway in the field of finance. Employers seek candidates with a bachelor’s degree in accounting, finance, economics, business, mathematics, or law. Courses in investments, taxation, estate planning, and risk management are also helpful in mastering the necessary skills to succeed in industry and to become CFP certified. Strong communication skills, analytical skills, a balance of teamwork and independent work skills, and the ability to build and maintain relationships with clients is essential in this field.
  • The Wisconsin School of Business offers a Wealth Management & Financial Planning prep sequence which consists of recommended courses and extracurricular engagements including student organizations, applied learning experiences, and internship opportunities. Please see the sequence flowchart (PDF) for details. Upon completion of the prep sequence, you will be eligible to sit for the CFP Certification Examination, the most prestigious certification in the field. If you pass the exam, you will be a Certified Financial Planner after you meet work experience requirements.
  • To get started, we suggest that you join the Wealth Management Group and talk with your academic advisor to help you plan out the proper sequence of courses as you pursue your career and CFP certification goals. You can track your progress along this sequence in Suitable via the Wealth Management pathway. If you have questions, please contact Professor Mark Fedenia.

Alumni Pursue Their Dream Jobs

Our alumni were where you are now. Ready to pursue a finance degree to make an impact in the business world.

Margaret Ntambi

Reach your potential and help others reach theirs

Margaret Ntambi (BBA ’14)

VP, Auto Pricing Analytics & Strategy at JPMorgan Chase & Co.
Washington, D.C.

Margaret is a maximizer. She sees talents and strengths in others, and encourages them to push the boundaries of their own potential. Excellence is her personal measure and continued pursuit. She credits her Ugandan parents, who moved to Baltimore in 1980 to pursue their medical careers, with imprinting this value on her at an early age.

Tim Hotchandani

Thrive on Wall Street and give back

Tim Hotchandani (BBA ’04)

Managing Director, Rothschild & Co.
New York City

Tim has worked on Wall Street since graduating from the Wisconsin School of Business, now serving as managing director at Rothschild & Co., one of the world’s largest financial advisory firms. He’s involved with Badgers in Finance, an alumni organization that helps WSB students prepare for careers on Wall Street and co-founded WSB’s Investment Banking Club.

Will Hsu

Take on a growing business

Will Hsu (BBA ’00)

President, Hsu’s Ginseng Enterprises, Inc.
Wausau, Wisconsin

From an early age, William Hsu (BBA ’00) had a strong interest in finance and a passion for his family’s business, Hsu Ginseng Enterprises. After graduating, Will spent 10 years at General Mills, earned his MBA from Harvard and then returned to Hsu Ginseng. “There’s no typical day in a business like this,” he says. “One day I’m meeting with bank representatives, and the next day I’m in the field trying to figure out how the gardens are supposed to run.”

Cody Candee

Turn your idea into a startup

Cody Candee (BBA ’12)

CEO and co-founder, Bounce
San Francisco

Cody started Bounce, a venture-backed startup that helps people find a place to leave their belongings anywhere in a city. The company’s locations—over 1,000 across hundreds of cities worldwide—have been used to store more than 1 million personal items. “I had the idea for Bounce brewing in my head forever,” says Cody. “I decided to try it out. Now we have over 100 retail locations and over $1 million in angel investment.”

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Develop your understanding of finance concepts + discover finance career paths

Sophomore finance internship program

This unique alumni-led applied internship experience prepares sophomores for success in their chosen field through mentorship from an industry leader and meaningful hands-on work at a hedge fund, private equity firm, real estate firm, or wealth management firm. 100% of participants have secured employment with a top choice firm.

Signature academic programs

The Applied Equity Market Research (AEMR) course series offered by the Hawk Center for Investment Analysis and our Nicholas Center Analyst Development Program are two application-based experiences for undergraduates to take their technical and professional skill readiness to the next level.

Case competitions

The finance department partners with WSB student organizations and industry partners/employers to host and promote case competitions for students of all levels. Case competitions provide students with an opportunity to apply what they have learned in their classes to solve a real-life business challenge and present their recommendations to a panel of judges.

Job shadow experiences and employer treks

Benefit from opportunities and resources to connect with the Badgers in Finance community through formal job shadow experiences, internships, and treks to visit companies in Chicago, New York, Minneapolis, and Milwaukee.

Samantha Palmer

Why did you choose to pursue a finance major?

“I chose to pursue a finance major because I have always loved my math, accounting, and economics classes in high school and college. I wanted a fast-paced, challenging major that would create opportunities for me to develop both personally and professionally.”
Samantha Palmer (BBA ‘24)
Jordan Kennedy

What class has had the biggest impact on you?

“The class that had the biggest impact on me was Finance 420. It was invaluable to have an applied course focused on mergers and acquisitions transactions. Being taught by a professor who worked on those deals herself made things even more realistic. It was the perfect way to prepare for my internship.”
Jordan Kennedy (BBA ‘22)
AJ Ervin

How have WSB faculty helped you in your career preparation?

“WSB faculty are always willing to lend a helping hand and share their knowledge. My Finance 420 instructor brought energy and passion for investment banking and capital markets to her course, and challenged students to think deeper about the class material and current market events. Because of her course, I was able to land my current role.”
AJ Ervin (BBA ‘23)
Emily Hilger

What experience within your major has had the biggest impact on you?

“My favorite finance experience has been the opportunity to help create and chair the Finance Student Advisory Board. The board represents student input on a variety of finance department and undergrad-level initiatives. I am particularly proud of the Women in Finance Network that we recently introduced to create a community for finance students who are women.”
Emily Hilger (BBA ‘22)
Meerah Thompson

What class has had the biggest impact on you?

“The Applied Equity Markets Research course has been the best learning experience for me. Taught by three investment practitioners, I was able to learn by doing and created an equity research report based on my own research. This course was impactful from both a technical and qualitative standpoint. I learned how to have conviction in my ideas based on diligent research which is a skill that extends into the workplace and beyond.”
Meerah Thompson (BBA ‘23)
Max Serpe
“The Sophomore Finance Internship Program immerses interns into the ‘real’ world of finance. This unique program provided me an opportunity to work alongside some of the most accredited WSB alumni, learn invaluable skills, and solidify my interest in finance. As I strive to achieve my next professional goals, I attribute my preparedness, confidence, and career excitement to this program.”
Maxim Serpe (BBA ’22)
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Meet the Finance Team

Department contacts

Erwan Quintin

Erwan Quintin

Nathan S. Brand Chair in Finance
View profile
Zack Hershoff

Zach Hershoff

Academic Program Manager

Career coach

Use Starfish to make an appointment with your career coach.

Elin Filbey

Elin Filbey

Career Coach
Brian Allen Whitmore

Brian Whitmore

Career Coach

Pathway consultants

Betsi Hill

Betsi Hill

Teaching Faculty III
Jim Shovein

Jim Shovein

Zack Hershoff

Zach Hershoff

Academic Program Manager