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Study financial management at WHU –
Your access to the optimal entry into the world of finance.

A financial management degree (Master in Finance) at WHU with a Master of Science degree brings you much closer to your dream of a career in international financial management. But what are the requirements to qualify for a finance degree? What core competencies are taught, how long are are the programs, and what can be achieved professionally with a degree in financial management and controlling?

In this article, we will cover all the important information on this topic, from the definition of financial management to the study conditions admission requirements, and what you can earn with a financial management degree.
A smiling student attends a lecture on financial management at WHU

What is financial management?

Financial management executives are responsible for analyzing, recording, planning, controlling, and directing all of a company's financial flows. They take care of raising funds, check the profitability of expenses or projects, evaluate transactions and investments and thus provide the basis for all financial decisions. 

In international companies, financial management is often part of the executive board. In addition to the tasks mentioned, financial managers in companies with cross-border flows of goods and payments also take on the coordination of all associated departments.  

In Germany, financial management is also referred to as finance and accounting (Finanz- und Rechnungswesen). A distinction is also made between strategic and operational financial management tasks. Strategic tasks relate to the fundamental and long-term control of capital and investments. The operational tasks include the short-term procurement of funds and the concrete realization of financial plans for current projects or special business areas.

What are the goals of financial management?

Basically, financial management aims to secure a solid basis for the financial transactions of a company. In doing so, there must always be a balance between maintaining liquidity by avoiding financial risks, identifying new business models or practices to optimize and maximize capital, and ultimately the optimal profitability of all business areas.  

The management therefore extends to all areas for which financial resources are required or generated - from the procurement of resources to human resources management. Which goals are envisaged in detail depends on the business area as well as the type of company, which is why the goals and tasks of financial management differ depending on whether it is a sole proprietorship, a partnership or a corporation.  

The values and visions of a company play an equally important role for the goals of financial management. In charitable institutions, for example, the management should be less profit-oriented and is regarded more as a basis that makes it possible to finance the charities own functions. In contrast, in companies that are strongly profit-oriented, it will focus more on objectives such as increasing shareholder value.

Why should you study financial management?

Those who hold a financial management degree or a Master in Finance usually have a particularly pronounced talent for mathematics, are generally interested in content that is also taught in a business administration degree, but would already like to qualify professionally for a senior position in finance. 

In contrast to related courses such as business administration or economics, the financial management course prepares you more (rigorously) and practically for specific roles and fields of activity. Because prospective managers who study financial management must not only be fit in calculating and analyzing, they also have to be able to interpret figures. In addition, they also have to deal with the topics of financing and accounting, procurement/controlling, tax law and international trade in order to qualify for a managerial position. 

Anyone who completes the Master in Finance at WHU through the financial management course also benefits from excellent networking and the international orientation of the program. Thanks to the targeted selection of suitable applicants, the program is held in an atmosphere of mutual encouragement and support. Because a Master in Finance degree from WHU is so highly regarded, there are also excellent career opportunities.

What do financial managers do?

Financial managers assume responsibility for all tasks and activities related to the finance and capital management of companies. The specific activities depend on the position, the size of the company and the company structure.  

In a managerial position, one of the main tasks is advising the executive board. Financial managers examine investments and/or prepare their implementation, initiate measures to optimize capital assets and operations or to ensure the liquidity of a company and the profitability of all cash flows.  

Therefore, a financial manager spends a lot of time collecting and analyzing the necessary data, which they record in commercial key figures and prepares in reports and balance sheets for the executive board and/or for shareholders. They often work closely with other experts and consultants and maintains contact with important external institutions or authorities such as banks, insurance companies, tax authorities or the legal department. 

There is also a close connection between financial management and controlling, because the plans drawn up for procurement or liquidity must be monitored as well as financing and credit plans. Last but not least, the important tasks of financial management can also include the development and monitoring of compliance, i.e. the rules and guidelines of a company.

What do you need to study to work in the field of financial management?

Financial managers work in different positions that can be divided into the categories "executive/qualified", "upper" and "senior". A bachelor´s degree offers the best preparation and qualification for upper positions, and the master degree in finance offers the best possible preparation and qualification for senior positions up to and including CFO.  

Since the designation "financial manager" is not a protected professional title, access to the profession can be gained in various ways. But whether you are studying economics or business administration at a university or whether it is a dual master’s degree that you are aiming for, you should always focus on acquiring relevant core competencies(skills). However, regardless of what you are pursuing, whether it is economics or business administration in university, or a dual master's degree, you should always focus on acquiring relevant skills that will help you achieve your career goals. 

In the master’s program at WHU, all financial management course content is already oriented towards the concrete practice of financial managers.  However, in order to study the Master in Finance, you should have some initial experience in finance, such as electives, theses, practical experience, etc. In addition  you need a bachelor's degree in economics or science/technology.  

One of the advantages is that in the Core Modules, you will acquire all the core competencies that will prepare you for your future profession, such as dealing with econometric methods, capital market theories and international financial reporting. In addition, you can choose your individual focus through nine electives, deepen your theoretical knowledge via an internship and gain international experience with a double degree.

How long does the Master in Finance Program at WHU take?

The duration of the master’s program is based on the amount of credits you have already earned with your Bachelor of Science degree or Bachelor of Arts. You can decide which of the following tracks suit you best: 

• Financial Management Degree: duration 21-months 

This program is intended for students who have already acquired 180 ECTS in their bachelor’s degree and require 120 ECTS for the master’s degree. Most bachelor’s programs around the world would have a similar number of credits. The programlasts a total of 21 months and, in addition to an internship, includes a four-month semester abroad at one of our partner universities.  

• Financial Management Degree: duration 17-months 

This program is suitable for you if you already have 210 ECTS from your bachelor’s degree, so you only need 90 ECTS from the master’s program. The shorter track therefore has a duration of 17 months. It is no longer necessary to complete a semester at a partner university, but you will participate in a one-week capstone module, which further underlines the international orientation of the entire program.  

Regardless of the duration, both programs end with a master’s thesis, after which you will earn an internationally recognized master’s degree (Master of Science).

What requirements do I have to meet in order to study in the Master in Finance?

Excellence and quality assurance are guiding values at WHU, which is why we pay as much attention to the selection of our Professors as we do to the selection of our students. Therefore, it is not the typical NC (or a minimum GPA requirement) in your financial management degree that is the decisive factor, but also your previous practical experiences such as internships or work experience, extracurricular engagements, and international experience.  

Fundamentally, these are the admissions requirements for the Master in Finance: 

• a bachelor’s degree in business administration or STEM from an accredited institution with at least 180 ECTS 

• proof of English profiency (i.e. TOEFL/IELTS/Cambridge CAE or CPE) which meets our minimum requirements 

In addition, we need proof that you have particularly good analytical and quantitative skills (GMAT, GRE or TM-BASE).  

In addition to your professional talents, personal qualities are important so that you can successfully complete your studies and be happy in your future position. Ambition, willingness to perform and the ability to take on responsibility are essential. But the desire to network and to work with other students instead of competing with them is also important if you want to feel at home at WHU.

How much does a graduate in financial management make?

As described above, financial managers work in very different positions with different levels of difficulty and areas of responsibility, which is also reflected in the salary. A master´s degree from WHU prepares you for particularly demanding tasks, as well as taking on responsibility early on and rapidly developing into management roles.

In addition to your qualifications, the size of the company, the industry, the region and the years of service are also decisive factors that determine the salary. The average starting salary of WHU Master graduates is around €65,100 per year (MSc 2018-2022). Especially in investment banking or management consulting with a financial focus, starting salaries are well above this value, with the positions for university graduates often being titled “analyst” or “associate”. In addition to the fixed salary, there is usually a bonus based on company and individual performance. The salary framework for individual positions and career steps is very clearly defined in many companies. So your base salary is less dependent on your negotiation skills and more dependent on your performance and how quickly you advance to the next career level. 

If you choose to start your career in an industrial or service company, it makes little sense to base your expectations on the starting salary of a junior financial manager. WHU graduates often first gain an overview of financial management by completing a finance traineeship in a wide range of finance-related company departments (e.g. corporate M&A, treasury, corporate finance, strategic controlling, investor relations). Starting salaries in such trainee programs are often between €55,000-65,000 per year.

What jobs can you do with the financial management degree?

No company can assert itself in the market without financial management. This starts with their foundation, when start-ups draw up an initial business plan. Financial managers are therefore sought after in all sectors - be it a global corporation, a medium-sized company or a start-up. Of course, there are many job profiles in the banking and financial services sector that deal with a wide variety of aspects of financial management. 

Ideally, you should take this fact into account during your studies and choose your focus accordingly, or you can position yourself particularly broadly in order to be prepared for appropriate strategic and cross-functional tasks in the company. Internships and experiences abroad will help you to orientate yourself. At WHU, you will also be supported by our excellent Career Center in preparing your career thoroughly from the very first day of study.

Banks, real estate or private equity companies, asset managers or insurance companies are particularly lucrative sectors that depend on talented financial managers.

If you would like to find out about the full potential of possible jobs and career paths in the field of financial management, you can take a look at portals such as efinancialcareers. It is certainly also interesting to take a look at the career paths in financial management for WHU alumni. Here you will find that while many entry-level positions are labeled "Analyst" or "Associate", job titles become much more varied as you develop, e.g. Head of M&A, Head of Accounting, Head of Finance or CFO, Director Controlling.