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Finance, Real Estate & Insurance

Overview

The Finance, Real Estate and Insurance industry cluster is the group of industries primarily associated with the acquisition, growth and maintenance of wealth.

From banking to insurance, if a job involves capital and facilitating the growth of wealth in any form, then you will likely find it in one of these industries:

  • Finance
  • Real Estate
  • Insurance
  • Investment Banking

Interested in receiving opportunities and information concerning these industries? Sign up to receive our listserv  emails for this cluster!

 

Resume & Cover Letter Samples

Finance Resume
Finance Cover Letter

 

Related Student Groups

The student organizations listed below offer great ways 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

Alpha Kappa Psi was founded in 1904 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. Much more than just another organization or club, Alpha Kappa Psi 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's Omega Nu Chapter of Alpha Kappa Psi is a co-educational business fraternity founded in 2006 with the goal of shaping people and shaping business. Visit the AKPSI website or email president.vuakpsi@gmail.com to learn more.

Moneythink
Moneythink is a national student organization dedicated to promoting financial literacy and entrepreneurship among 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.

Vanderbilt Investment Club
The Vanderbilt Investment Club (VIC) serves as the premier undergraduate group on campus for those interested in financial markets. Members obtain valuable skills by engaging in 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.

Working closely with the Center for Student Professional Development, the Investment Club is one of a 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 leading 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 to 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 areas of finance listed below are the sectors most often of interest and accessible to Vanderbilt undergraduates.

Actuarial

Actuaries calculate risk by analyzing statistics and, based on their analysis, they make decisions regarding pricing and investment strategies. Some actuaries work in the financial services industry, but most are employed in the insurance industry.

Asset Management

Asset managers work either at a firm that provides investment management services or as an individual consultant hired by clients to make investment decisions.

Asset management roles within a financial services firm are typically divided into different groups that 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 InvestmentsandQuantitative Strategies. Another area called Third-Party Distribution entails selling the firm's mutual funds to wealth advisors at other firms, who in turn sell to their clients.

Capital Markets

This area includes Debt Capital Markets and Equity Capital Markets, two product groups that can exist in a bank's investment banking division or comprise a separate entity. Your role within these product groups is to communicate between the investment banking department and the sales force that sells the securities in a transaction.

Typical Candidate Characteristics

Similar to investment banking, the capital markets sector looks for applicants who are: detail-oriented, analytical, able to work efficiently and time-manage multiple projects, and willing to work long hours. But this field resembles sales and trading in that projects have shorter timelines.

Typical Career Path

Those who work in capital markets can move to the syndicate desk, doing a lot of sales, or to other roles in investment banking. Jobs in capital markets do not typically cultivate the valuation and modeling skills that are practiced in investment banking (skills that are attractive to private equity firms or hedge funds).

Commercial Banking

Commercial bankers provide lending services to support business customers ranging from small, local businesses to multinational conglomerates. Jobs in commercial banking may be found at a local branch office or the corporate headquarters of a national bank.

Equity Research

Equity research associate analysts can be on the buy side, which is internal, working for an asset management firm or other investment company; 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 stocks’ 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 thrives working independently, and completing tasks on their own schedule, would be well-suited for this work.

Typical Career Path

After entering a firm (on either the buy side or sell side), an associate analyst will often stay in this role for two to four years. After business school or a possible promotion (this is rare), you may work in the industry as an analyst and cover an even greater number of stocks.

Note that in research, unlike other parts of an investment firm or bank, the associate position typically comes before the analyst level.

Finance/Corporate Finance

Every large corporation (financial institution or other) has a finance department that deals with analyzing financials (data and statements), budgeting, strategic planning, assessing new products’ profitability, determining the profits and losses of each division, and assessing internal control.

Typical Candidate Characteristics

Corporate finance employers look for candidates who are: detail-oriented with organizational skills, able to work efficiently and time-manage multiple projects, and possess strong analytical skills.

Insurance

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. The insurance field includes agent positions in branches, as well as corporate positions, which like many corporate finance positions are more analytical in their responsibilities.

Investment Banking

Investment bankers help corporations raise 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 (e.g. Consumer/Retail, Health Care, Industrial, Natural Resources, Technology/Media/Telecom) and product coverage (e.g. Leveraged Finance, Equity Capital Markets, Restructuring, Mergers and Acquisitions).

Within investment banking, analyst responsibilities usually include developing valuation models and analyses; compiling research for various industries, public and private companies; preparing presentation and memorandum materials; and participating in client meetings.

Typical Candidate Characteristics
Employers look for applicants who are: detail-oriented, analytical, strong communicators, able to work efficiently and to manage multiple projects simultaneously, and willing to work long hours.

Private Wealth Management/Private Banking

Private wealth managers and private bankers provide a more personalized level of service than is typical from general commercial bank departments, for high-net worth individuals, families and foundations. 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 your advisor and 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 acquired a lot of wealth; and being able to pitch about particular aspects of the client portfolio during client meetings.

Typical Candidate Characteristics

Employers favor these characteristics: strong communication and interpersonal skills; market savvy with 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 the ability to think strategically about how to win new business.

Sales and Trading

The securities sales team is responsible for building and managing client relationships. They understand the needs of clients through clear and frequent communication, and help to take care of client requests. 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 able to manage risk.

Sales: outgoing with strong people skills, able to read people, punctual and creative.

In both sales and trading, employers look for these characteristics: ability to provide support to more senior professionals on desk; arrive early and leave late; answer phones for desk; build Excel spreadsheets for desk that capture market data; occasionally attend client functions; and learn from senior employees how to network and build a book of clients.

Real Estate Investment

Positions in real estate investment support the purchasing, ownership, management and sale of real estate for profit.


 Additional Areas of Finance

The areas of finance listed below are rarely open to new graduates. These fields are more accessible after a few years of work experience or after gaining another degree.

Hedge Funds

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 employs significant risk management strategies.

Private Equity

The private equity field contains investors and funds that invest directly in private companies or conduct buyouts of public companies. Private equity firms will sometimes pool funds together to take very large public companies private.

Venture Capital

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 business management and development training, and 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 are great resources for more detail about finance careers and how to start preparing for the fields that interest you.

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
WetFeet Guides
  • 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

Books:

These books are suggested for students seeking finance positions, recommended by a VU alumnus who works in securities.

  • Beating the Street by Peter Lynch
  • Flash Boys (A Wall Street Revolt) by Michael Lewis
  • 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
  • Stress Test: Reflections on Financial Crises by Timothy F. Geithner
  • 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
  • Young Money: Inside the Hidden World of Wall Street's Post-Crash Recruits by Kevin Roose
   
Listservs:
  
Mobile Apps:
  
Websites:

 

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 walk-in hours.
  • 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 other Industry Cluster Listserves
  • Review the different areas of the finance industry, and narrow 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.