Top Finance Courses for Students & Professionals
If you’re looking to move up the ladder or break into the finance industry, here is a list of the top finance courses for students and professionals. Finance careers require knowledge on a wide range of topics and skills covering lots of different technical areas. The modern financial analyst needs to be equipped with the right training to move up the ladder in today’s highly competitive marketplace. Below is a list of the top 10 finance courses every analyst should take.
List of Top 10 Finance Courses
The top 10 skills and classes every financial analyst should take are:
Key skills that hiring managers want financial analysts to learn from their accounting courses are an understanding of debits and credits, double entry accounting, bookkeeping, journal entries, budgeting, payroll, accounts payable and accounts receivable (view accounting course).
#2 Financial Statements
When it comes to financial statements, there are many important things analysts need to understand. The most important concepts to get from finance classes are how to construct an income statement, balance sheet, cash flow statement; analyze an annual report, 10-k, 10-q, MD&A report, and all the notes to the financial statements (view course).
It’s critical for financial analysts to have a solid understanding of financial math, and in particular, know how to calculate present value, future value, weighted average cost of capital, beta, unlevered beta, tax schedules, debt and interest schedules, and more (view math course).
Excel is the number one tool for every finance professional. It’s critical to know how to use all the various formulas, functions, shortcuts, and how to perform analysis from the bottom up. Taking Excel finance courses online is the best way to get the technical training you need and rise through the ranks (view all courses).
#5 Financial Analysis
This is the “core” of a financial analyst’s job description. Classes on financial analysis will teach you how to calculate metrics like margins, growth rates, P/E ratio, return on equity (ROE), return on assets (ROA), debt/equity ratio, cash conversion cycle, and more (view finance course).
#6 Data visualization
Once an analyst has performed the analysis in Excel, it is critical to be able to create charts, graphs, and outputs that summarize their findings. The curriculum in such a course should cover design principles, aesthetics, and teach you how to focus attention and tell a story with the data (view course).
Every financial analyst spends a great deal of time in PowerPoint making presentations. To be world-class at your job, you need to be able to create slides that tell a story and persuade people using the charts, graphs, and models created to support the business case (view course).
#8 Financial modeling
When it comes to finance courses, financial modeling is one of the most sought-after topics. You’ll learn how to forecast a company’s performance into the future and build a three-statement model and a discounted cash flow model (DCF), as well as evaluate a leveraged buyout (LBO) or mergers and acquisitions (M&A) (view all courses).
#9 Behavioral finance
This is a slightly different kind of class, as it focuses more on theory than on practical skills. For anyone working in the capital markets, it’s a good idea to have a thorough grasp of behavioral finance, and it really helps to round out your skill set (view behavioral finance course).
#10 Business valuation
Last but not least, at least one business valuation course is highly recommended for all finance professionals, even those not working directly on valuations. Knowing how to value a business can be very useful across a wide range of departments, such as accounting (impairment testing), investor relations (dealing with equity research analysts), corporate development (acquiring other companies), and operations (understanding the impact of operational decisions on a company (view valuation course).
Taking all of the above finance courses will help anyone get on their way to becoming a very well-rounded financial analyst.
Skills Employers Look For
While the finance classes listed above mostly focus on technical skills, employers hire analysts that posses both hard and soft skills. Below, we will discuss in more detail what is highly valued in each of the two categories.
- Excel formulas and functions
- Accounting principles, rules, and policies
- Detailed financial statement analysis
- Ratios, multiples, and key performance indicators (KPIs)
- Data manipulation
- Statistics, regression analysis
- Valuation and complex business modeling
- Transaction analysis
- Financial modeling
- Teamwork and interpersonal skills
- Ability to get buy-in
- Socialization of new ideas
- Presentation and output of an analysis
- Persuasive writing
- Ability to motivate and lead others
In addition to taking finance courses, adding a certification can be a great way to stand out from the crowd and demonstrate to employers you have the skills and training they’re looking for.
CFI’s Financial Modeling and Valuation Analyst (FMVA)™ certification program may be the right fit for you if you’re focused on corporate finance.
Online vs Offline Finance Courses
When making your decision about which finance classes are right for you, it’s important to think about the modality of the training you’re going to receive. With the massive shift towards eLearning, there are many online providers that offer detailed and in-depth programs that can be taken 100% online. By contrast, many of the traditional universities and colleges offer full-time and part-time programs in the classroom that could also be a good fit for you.
Benefits of online courses:
- 24/7 access to course materials and lessons
- Can be taken from any location with an internet connection
- Courses can be retaken
- Technical topics are more easily demonstrated (screen recordings)
- Faster to complete
- Cost savings (not always, but generally)
Benefits of classroom courses:
- More human interaction and discussion
- Sharing of stories and experiences
- Complete immersion and focus on the topic
Thank you for reading this guide to the top finance courses. To help take your career to the next level, CFI’s Financial Analyst Certification Program may the next logical step for you. To continue researching the topic, these additional resources will be helpful: