Are you finance major and depressed about economic depression? Do you feel that bad bankers are causing you worse publicity? Well don’t lose hope if you have lost a job or an opportunity. People still have faith in the discipline which has been so very close to your heart. Businessweek has reported that finance is not dead yet. With a slew of jobs lost on Wall Street and bad publicity surrounding bankers, the finance major has lost a bit of its sparkle with undergraduate students. Still, there are people betting that crisis will birth opportunity and finance majors will again be in demand. Banks around the world have cut 330,000 jobs during the latest financial crisis, according to data compiled by Bloomberg, and another 80,000 are expected to bite the dust in the next 18 months as revenue growth begins to slow, according to Meredith Whitney, a former Oppenheimer & Co analyst.
So it’s no surprise that at some schools the number of students majoring in finance has dipped in recent years. For example, at Lehigh University‘s College of Business & Economics (Lehigh Undergraduate Business Profile), 47 percent of business students majored in finance this year, down from 49 percent in 2009.At New York University‘s Stern School of Business (Stern Undergraduate Business Profile), which is known for its ability to place graduates in Wall Street firms, the percentage of students majoring in finance dropped from 76 percent in 2008 to 75 percent in 2009 and 71 percent in 2010.
The paper reports that the dearth of traditional Wall Street jobs has forced finance students further afield, but it’s also forced them to differentiate themselves to make themselves more marketable, says Anne Anderson, one of the finance chairs at Lehigh. “The types of jobs have not changed. The competition has changed,” she says. “You must distinguish yourself more.” Students at Lehigh can get certified in the use of specific databases—Thomson Reuters for investment banks and CQG for futures markets—to get an edge, says Anderson. The skills themselves are valuable to employers, but at the very least, she says, students with these certificates can speak more intelligently in their interviews.
When possible, students are pairing finance with another major, such as accounting or marketing and those who want finance jobs also get certified as chartered financial analysts, which qualifies them for jobs in the investment industry. Crisis breeds opportunity, says Michael Silverman, a sophomore at Stanford who is a management science and engineering student in the financial decisions track. “Now might be the best time to get into finance because of the upheaval,” he says. “There’s opportunity in reform, and it should be more fun.”
While the finance major may have lost some of its luster, it’s certainly not on life support. Considering the magnitude of the crisis and the extent of the job cuts in banking, it remains fairly popular with students, said Mark Zupan, dean of the Simon Graduate School of Business at the University of Rochester, in an interview. The Simon school is planning to launch an undergraduate business program in January 2011, and Zupan said he expects finance to be the most popular major.
“As humans, we have a great, long-run track record of coming up with creative ways to generate wealth, notwithstanding the current crisis,” said Zupan. “We’ll always need people to manage that wealth.”
[Article courtesy: Businessweek]