Finance, Real Estate & Insurance
The Finance, Real Estate, & Insurance industry cluster is the cluster of industries primarily associated with the acquisition, growth, and maintenance of wealth.
From banking to insurance, if it involves capital and the facilitating of the growth of wealth in any form than you will likely find it in one of these industries:
- Real Estate
- Investment Banking
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Resume & Cover Letter Samples
Related Student Groups
These student organizations are a great way to meet with other students who share an interest, and prepare yourself for future positions in these industries.
[Employers: please contact us if you are interested in working with any of these groups.]
Alpha Kappa Psi - The Business Fraternity
In 1904, Alpha Kappa Psi was founded on the principles of educating its members and the public to appreciate and demand higher ideals in business and to further the individual welfare of members during college and beyond. College men and women everywhere are discovering that Alpha Kappa Psi is much more than just another organization or club. It is a unique, prestigious association of students, professors, graduates and professionals with common interests and goals. They join Alpha Kappa Psi to take advantage of valuable educational, friendship and networking opportunities.
Vanderbilt University houses the Omega Nu Chapter of Alpha Kappa Psi which is a co-educational business fraternity founded in 2006 with the goal of shaping people and shaping business. Visit the AKPSI website or email firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more.
Moneythink is a national student organization dedicated to promoting financial literacy and entrepreneurship to high school students. Vanderbilt Moneythink was established in 2011 and currently has five volunteering sites. Members mentor high school students on a weekly basis, and the organization continues to expand each semester to additional sites around Nashville.
For more information about Vanderbilt Moneythink, contact: Geoffrey King, Moneythink President
Vanderbilt Investment Club
The Vanderbilt Investment Club (VIC) serves as the premier undergraduate group on campus for those interested in financial markets by managing a long-only and equity-only portfolio.
The goal of the VIC is to provide its members an educational experience through performing extensive equity research and teaching efficient portfolio management. The VIC is divided into multiple groups, each led by a senior analyst. Every group separately researches specific companies and gives a formal presentation on each investment opportunity to the entire group. Through this process, members obtain valuable skills in equity research and portfolio management.
The Investment Club also uses its relationship with the Center for Student Professional Development to be one of few organizations on campus that directly connects its members with companies in the financial industry and other top employers in related sectors. The VIC hosts recruitment events with top investment banks to give its members exposure to some of the best firms in the industry.
For more information, please visit the Vanderbilt Investment Club website.
Vanderbilt Microfinance Club
The Vanderbilt Microfinance Club (VMC) was formed in January 2009 by Vanderbilt students Arielle Samet and Jordan Solomon. The mission of the organization is to bring awareness to the social entrepreneurial tool of microfinance and facilitate economic development projects linking Vanderbilt students to impoverished entrepreneurs.
VMC has developed sustainable microenterprise programs in Kyrgyzstan and Cameroon, hosted a student trip to Panama and brought inspiring speakers to campus to tell students about economic development.
Major Areas of Finance
The below are the areas of finance most often open to, and of interest to Vanderbilt undergraduates.
Actuaries calculate risk by analyzing statistics and, based on their analysis, make decisions regarding pricing and investment strategies. Some actuaries work in the financial services industry, but most are employed in the insurance industry.
Asset Managers work either at a firm that provides investment management services or as an individual who makes investment decisions for others.
Roles are typically broken into different groups that individually provide their own investment platforms and strategies for clients, commonly large institutions such as pension funds, insurance companies, university endowments, and other sources of institutional cash.
Groups include: Fundamental Equity, Fixed Income, Alternative Investments, and Quantitative Strategies. Also, included is Third-Party Distribution, which entails selling the firm's mutual funds to wealth advisors at other firms who in turn sell to their clients.
Debt Capital Markets and Equity Capital Markets are two product groups which can exist in a bank's Investment Banking Division or in an entity by themselves. Your role within these groups is to communicate between the investment banking industry group and the sales force that actually sells the securities in the deal.
Typical Candidate Characteristics
Similar to the needs of the Investment Banking, Capital Markets looks for applicants who are: detail-oriented, analytical, able to work efficiently and time-manage multiple projects, and willing to work long hours. But, it resembles Sales & Trading in that projects and work have shorter timelines.
Typical Career Path
Those who work in capital markets can move to syndicate desk, doing a lot of sales, or to other roles in investment banking. One typically doesn't learn the valuation and modeling skills that an investment banker does to make one attractive to private equity firms or hedge funds.
Commercial Bankers provide lending services, putting forth their own money to support customers. Customers can range from small, local businesses to multinational conglomerates. You could work at firms ranging from a local branch office to the corporate headquarters for a national bank.
Equity Research Associate Analysts can be on the Buy side, which is internal, working for an Asset Management or other Investment firm; or on the Sell side, working for a Bank or other company, where their work will be published externally.
Typically, an Associate Analyst will cover about four stocks, creating financial models to value the stock's underlying companies, placing a specific share value on each company and advising the firm (buy side) or public investors (sell side) to buy/hold/sell accordingly.
Typical Candidate Characteristics
Employers seek candidates who are independent, self-starters with a great deal of motivation, dedication and excellent time management skills. Someone who does well with a lot of individual-based work, and completes tasks somewhat on their own schedule would be well-suited for this work.
Typical Career Path
Entering a firm (either Buy side or Sell side), an Associate Analyst will often stay in this role for two to four years, typically covering four stocks at a time. After business school or a possible promotion (this is rare), you may enter the industry as an Analyst and cover an even greater number of stocks.
Note that in research, unlike other parts of a bank, the Associate position typically comes before the Analyst level.
Every large corporation (financial insitution or otherwise) has a finance department that deals with: analyzing financials (data and statements), budgeting, strategic planning, assessing new products on a financial basis (Are they profitable?), determing the profits and losses of each division, assessing internal control.
Typical Candidate Characteristics
Characteristics employers look for include: detail-oriented with organizational skills, able to work efficiently and time-manage multiple projects, strong analytical skills.
The insurance industry is a multi-trillion dollar market dealing in risk. Most insurance agents specialize in life and health insurance, or property and casualty insurance. An increasing number of agents also work for banking institutions, non-depository institutions, or security and commodity brokers. Insurance includes agent positions in branches, and also corporate positions that are more analytical like many of the corporate finance positions.
Investment Bankers aid corporations in raising funds in the capital market by underwriting initial public offerings and managing private placements, they advise on buy-side and sell-side mergers and acquisitions by identifying potential transaction partners, developing analyses, and negotiating terms.
Services include managing follow-on equity offerings and structuring and distributing corporate debt. Departments are generally structured by industry coverage (ex. Consumer/Retail, Healthcare, Industrial, Natural Resources, Technology/Media/Telecom, etc.) and product coverage (ex. Leveraged Finance, Equity Capital Markets, Restructuring, Mergers & Acquisitions, etc.) groups.
Typical Analyst responsibilities include: developing valuation models and analyses, compiling research for various industries, public companies, and private companies, preparing presentation and memorandum materials, and participating in client meetings.
Characteristics employers look for: detail-oriented, analytical, strong communication skills, ability to work efficiently and to manage multiple projects at once, and a willingness to work long hours.
Private Wealth Management/Private Banking
Private Wealth Managers and Private Bankers provide a more personalized level of service to high-net worth individuals, families and foundations than is typical to typical customers at commercial banks. They are tasked with creating and implementing long-term asset allocations within the context of each client's particular risk tolerance, developing customized investment strategies, and providing access to a wide range of investment platforms and ideas.
Typical analyst responsibilities include: conducting day-to-day tasks for the Advisor and/or Clients such as, pitch-books, client portfolio reviews, and equity research, talking intelligently on the phone with clients about a wide range of financial topics and asset classes, prospecting for new business, and thinking strategically about how to approach potential clients who have come into a lot of wealth, being ready and able to answer any question or need that the client or your advisor may have, and attending client meetings and being able to pitch about a certain aspect of the client portfolio.
Typical Candidate Characteristics
Characteristics employers look for include: strong communication and interpersonal skills, market savviness with a knowledge of the different asset classes, detail-oriented with good organizational skills, a team player, the ability to work efficiently and time-manage multiple projects, and strategic in thinking about how to win new business.
Sales and Trading
The Sales team is responsible for building and managing client relationships. They understand clients’ needs through clear and frequent communication, and help to take care of clients’ requests regarding the selling of securities. Traders manage customer-driven business and generate profits through market making, and by taking proprietary positions.
Please note: candidates must pass Series 7 and 63 tests to obtain their trading license.
Typical Candidate Characteristics
Trading: works well under pressure and can bounce back quickly after losses, can think and make calculations quickly, able to remove emotions from decisions, and can manage risk
Sales: outgoing with strong people skills, able to read people, punctual, and creative.
Characteristics employers look for include: ability to provide support to more senior professionals on desk, arrive early and leave late, answer phones for desk, build Excel spreadsheets for desk which capture market characteristics, occasionally attend client functions, learn from senior employees how to network and build a book of clients.
Real Estate Investment
Those in Real Estate investing support the purchasing, ownership, management and/or sale of real estate for profit.
Those in Transfer Pricing establish, analyze, and regulate costs for goods and services. Their work especially applies to transactions within a company or across national boundaries. Looking at the implications of these transactions for tax purposes and following tax regulations is also a focus of their work.
Additional Areas of Finance
These areas of finance are rarely open to candidates coming right out of their undergraduate degree, for some students these are areas they plan to move into after a few years of work or after gaining another degree.
A hedge fund is an aggressively managed portfolio of investments with a goal of generating high returns. A hedge fund has no employees, but the portfolio is managed by the investment manager, who employes significan risk management strategies.
Private equity consists of investors and funds that make investments directly into private companies or conduct buyouts of public companies. Private equity firms will sometimes pool funds together to take very large public companies private.
A venture capitalist is a person or investment firm that makes speculative investments in growing start up companies. Venture capital firms typically comprise small teams with technology backgrounds or those with business training or deep industry experience.
Suggestions for additions or changes to these areas? Send us an email!
Researching & Preparing for Careers in Finance
Interested in learning more about some of the areas in finance mentioned above? According to several Vanderbilt alumni working in the industry, the following resources are some great ways to get a feel for what these areas are like and how to start preparing for those that are of interest.
VAULT Guides (VUnetID required for access)
- Career Guide to Accounting
- Career Guide to Hedge Funds
- Career Guide to Investment Banking
- Career Guide to Investment Management
- Career Guide to Middle Market Investment Banking
- Career Guide to Private Equity
- Career Guide to Private Wealth Management
- Career Guide to Sales and Trading
- Career Launcher: Finance
- Finance Interviews Practice Guide
- Guide to Finance Interviews
- Guide to the Top 50 Banking Employers
- Guide to the Top Financial Services Employers
- Guide to the Top Insurance Employers Vault/SEO
- Guide to Financial Services Diversity Programs
- 25 Top Financial Services Firms
- Careers in Asset Management and Retail Brokerage
- Careers in Investment Banking
- Careers in Real Estate
- Careers in Venture Capital
- Beat the Street: Investment Banking Interviews
These guides are available free of charge to current Vanderbilt students. Visit our Online Resources page for additional sources of information.
Books, Listservs, Apps & Websites
The following are helpful resources for students and alumni interested in working in the finance industry.
These books are suggested for students seeking finance positions by a VU alumni who works in securities.
- Beating the Street by Peter Lynch
- Liar's Poker by Michael Lewis
- Market Wizards: Interviews with Top Traders by Jack D. Schwager
- Reminiscence of a Stock Operator by Edwin Lefèvre and Roger Lowenstein
- Technical Analysis of the Futures Market by John Murphy
- The Big Short by Michael Lewis
- The Little Book That Still Beats the Market by Joel Greenblatt
- You Can Be a Stock Market Genius: Uncover the Secret Hiding Places of Stock Market Profits by Joel Greenblatt
Center for Student Professional Development Industry Listservs
Subscribe to our industry specific listservs for information about recruiting on campus, networking, exploration opportunities, and much, much more.
What’s Happening in the Markets Email List
To join, send an email to Annie Wang with the subject line: “What's Happening in the Markets"
eFinancial Careers - Careers in Financial Markets
Download the free eFinancial Careers mobile app for your iPhone or iPad. A printable PDF version is also available.
What do I do next?
Here are some things you can do to start preparing yourself for positions in finance, real estate or insurance:
- Come into the Center for Student Professional Development to meet with a staff member during our drop-in times.
- Visit or join one of the Student Groups related to finance.
- Begin looking at job and internship postings in DoreWays.
- Sign up for the Banking-Finance and/or other Industry Cluster Listserves.
- Review the different areas of the finance industry, and narrow in on your interests.
- Attend events hosted by the Center.
- Review where other VU students have had past summer internships on the Internship Database.
- Begin designing and honing your resume and cover letter using Optimal and the sample resumes and cover letters on this site.