When considering your financial career options, don’t limit yourself to traditional finance positions such as financial advisor, accountant or banker. There are a number of under-the-radar positions you may not be aware of. Some are on the cutting edge of technology, some keep businesses afloat while others pursue bad guys. Even if you never considered a career in finance, there is probably a position in this list you’ll find appealing. Here are the five finance positions:
Mutual Fund Wholesaler
A mutual fund wholesaler sells mutual funds to a variety of asset managers nationwide. Major mutual fund companies including Fidelity, T. Rowe Price and Franking Templeton Investments rely on wholesalers to go out and make sure that their mutual funds are offered in as annuity package, brokerage houses and 401(k) plans as possible. There is a very good chance the mutual funds offered in your 401(k) were influenced by a wholesaler.
Wholesalers are brokers for the mutual funds, extolling the virtues of the funds to as many major asset managers as possible.
Wholesalers are relationship people, and once they are in with an asset manager, the wholesaler can provide a suite of product offerings to appeal to the manager’s wide customer base. And asset managers often receive residual commissions themselves from the mutual fund companies for selling the funds (the funds receive the loads and/or expense fees).
Mutual fund wholesalers are very good at what they do-there’s over $16 trillion invested globally in mutual funds. And they are well-paid for their services, earning an average of $109,000 per year.1 In fact, they command the lion’s share (36%) of fund company’s marketing expenses.2 While the heyday of wining and dining brokers may have passed, mutual fund wholesaler is still a very desirable position.
At some point, all businesses run into cash flow shortages. This is especially true of fast-growing companies with fast cash burn rates. Often, a main source of their cash flow problems stems from customers who simple won’t pay their bills on time. To make matters worse, banks won’t normally lend to businesses with short operating history or a lack of profitability.
Enter the factoring broker, who matches businesses in need with invoice factoring companies. These companies purchase the outstanding invoices of cash-starved businesses at a discount, providing them with immediate funding. But now the factoring company is on the hook for the collection duties. When the invoices eventually get paid, they are paid to the factor, which collect their fee.
Factoring has been around since the ancient times but has really taken hold in the U.S. over the last couple decades. Considered an alternative form of financing, factoring is not a loan, it is an asset sale (the accounts receivable). As such, businesses don’t damage their credit ratings by taking on further debt.
Learning the ropes at a factoring company is a great way to understand small business financing that’s not always taught in business schools. It can be a very lucrative business, especially when credit gets tight. And if you have an entrepreneurial spirit, factoring experience teaches you the skills to start your own factoring business, many of which are mom and pop operations.
Fraud investigators are a major line of defense in the battle against financial crime. They perform a number of vital services for companies such as conducting interviews, testifying in court and even executing search warrants. Fraud investigators often deploy interrogation techniques during interviews. The information retrieved is crucial in assisting ongoing investigations as well as assisting prosecutors and attorneys in litigation. They also conduct surveillance using the latest technology and techniques. Fraud investigators are critical in assisting law enforcement and legal entities prepare cases against financial criminals.
Many former law enforcement professionals looking for a new career in finance are finding demand in the private sector. Insurance companies combatting scammers and financial institutions with credit card divisions are major employers of fraud investigators.
Becoming a fraud investigator has never been easier. Companies typically require at least a bachelor’s degree and many candidates are choosing to get a Masters in Financial Crime degree to get a leg up on the competition. The quickest way to get a foot in the door is pursuing a Financial Crimes Investigator certificate which provides an accelerated path to the necessary skills.
Private Debt Firms
When businesses get into serious trouble, they need to take desperate measures. If they are publicly traded, they have a variety of financing options. But if they are private, without access to mature capital markets, it is a little more difficult (and expensive). We’ve all heard of private equity firms but there are also a number of private debt firms. These firms provide loans for companies, typically in the middle market.
Private debt has some attractive qualities, namely lower expected volatility, immediate cash flow and shorter lock-up periods than its private equity counterpart. While the returns are not as some of the home runs in private equity, they can still get to the mid-teens.3 And the demand is strong-as of September 30th, there was over half a trillion in global private debt outstanding, including capital commitments, according to Preqin.4 While more liquid than private equity, they are still less liquid as publicly traded debt.
But private debt is not without its risks. Mid-teen returns almost certainly come with leverage or are comprised of mezzanine or junior debt. Sometimes, severely distressed debt (near bankruptcy) is purchased in the hopes of asset divestitures or reorganization where the debt could be exchanged for equity through a swap.
Distressed debt buyers enjoy a mostly recession-proof business. Private debt funds have large staffs so there is an opportunity for employment. Debt fund managers hire people who they believe have contacts and can grow relationships with potential borrowers.
Cyber Security Analyst
Cyber-attacks are a massive threat for financial institutions and firms are waking up to the realization that it’s not just about making money-it’s about keeping it. With more and more ways to transmit data, online, mobile, cloud, block chain, and cross-border wires, firms are as vulnerable to hacks as ever. And banks know it.
77% of bank executives and board members rank cybersecurity as their top risk for 2016.5
Banks are scrambling to hire financial crime fighting professionals. In 2015, JP Morgan doubled its cybersecurity spending to a whopping $500 million.6 And Banc America has a self-described “unlimited budget” for cybersecurity.7
Many firms have their own divisions now of cyber-crime prevention. In addition to these efforts, eight major banks including Wells Fargo, Banc of America and announced in August that they have partnered to prevent and combat hacking threats. Goldman Sachs defends their assets with their innovative Threat Management Center.8 Other financial firms are choosing to simply buy up cybersecurity firms to service their needs, as Citigroup’s venture capital arm did with cloud-security company vArmour in 2015.9
There may be no greater job security than a cyber security analyst.