How to Become a Hedge Fund Accountant
| Brit Brogaard Modified on March 23, 2022
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Hedge fund accountants analyze and manage hedge funds. A hedge fund aims to maximize the returns for a limited pool of wealthy investors. Hedge fund accountants and managers use a combination of investment strategies, including short and long positions and high leverage.
Credentials for these professionals can open doors to lucrative careers with investment firms and other private corporations. Hedge fund investing is a fiercely competitive field, but an accounting degree from a prestigious school and several years' professional experience in the investment sector can give applicants a boost in the job market.
The guide explores the necessary and recommended steps to become a hedge fund accountant.
Steps to a Hedge Fund Accountant Career
- Earn a Bachelor's Degree. To become a hedge fund accountant, you must first earn a bachelor's degree in accounting from a regionally accredited school. Opting for a combination of courses covering accounting, finance, and investment strategies can help enrollees prepare to pursue investment jobs.
A bachelor's degree typically comprises 120 credits, which full-time degree-seekers can complete in four years. Students with associate degrees in accounting or related areas can usually apply their existing credits toward bachelor's programs.
- Earn a Master's Degree or Graduate Certificate: A bachelor's degree, along with several years of professional experience in fund investment, often suffice to land a job as a hedge fund accountant. However, many employers prefer hedge fund accountants who hold certified public accountant (CPA) credentials. To take the CPA exam, you must possess 150 credits. After earning 120 credits in a bachelor's program, aspiring CPAs can earn their 30 additional required credits in graduate programs.
- Complete an Internship. Internships can help to boost your employment prospects.
- Obtain CPA Licensure. If you opt to earn CPA credentials, check your state's specific prerequisites for sitting for the CPA exam.
- Obtain Certification. Hedge fund accountants do not need certification. However, certification can give you a competitive edge on a cutthroat job market.
- Gain Work Experience. Before applying for hedge fund accounting positions, you will typically need professional experience in the investment sector. Most employers only hire hedge fund accountants with a minimum of three years of experience in fund investment.
Required Education for a Hedge Fund Accountant
A hedge fund accountant must hold at least a bachelor's degree in accounting. A bachelor's degree generally requires 120 credits and takes four years to complete for full-time students. Enrollees typically explore accounting principles, risk management, and investment strategies.
Some accounting programs may offer electives for aspiring hedge fund accountants, including securities regulation, blockchain technology, and securities fraud. Many employers only hire hedge fund accountants with CPA licensure. Sitting for the CPA exam requires 150 credits in accounting or related areas. To obtain the remaining 30 credits, you can choose to pursue a graduate certificate or a master's degree in accounting.
Earning a master's degree in accounting normally requires 30-60 credits and takes 1-2 years of full-time enrollment. Graduate certificates for aspiring CPAs generally comprise 30 credits and require about one year of full-time enrollment.
Certifications and Licensure for Hedge Fund Accountants
Securing a job as a hedge fund accountant does not require licensure or certification. However, these credentials can help enhance your job prospects.
Licensure and certifications differ by the agencies that issue credentials. Governmental agencies issue licenses, while non-governmental organizations oversee certification requirements. Below, we explore some optional credentials for hedge fund accountants.
Many employers prefer candidates with CPA licensure. CPA licensure prerequisites vary by state, but all states require aspiring CPAs to pass the American Institute of Certified Public Accountant's Uniform Certified Public Accountant Exam.
Certifications can help boost earning potential and employment opportunities. Many hedge fund accountants hold registered investment advisor (RIA) certification, certificates in hedge fund regulation (CHFR), or chartered hedge fund associate (CHA) or chartered alternative investment analyst (CAIA) credentials.
Aspiring CPAs can pursue these credentials after earning 150 total credits in bachelor's- and master's-level education. Each state maintains different standards for renewing certifications, but most require professionals to engage with a specific amount of continuing education credits every few years.
Experience on a Hedge Fund Accountant's Resume
Graduate accounting programs may occasionally require students to complete internships. If your program does not include an internship, aspiring professionals can pursue internships with prestigious accounting or investment firms to learn from top fund accountants in the field while building their professional networks.
Paid internships commonly last around one year. Most employers hire only hedge fund accountants with a minimum of three years of experience in the investment sector. To develop the required experience, you can intern for several firms or gain experience working with other types of investment funds, such as mutual funds or exchange-traded funds (ETFs).
Should I Become a Hedge Fund Accountant?
Successful hedge fund accountants typically possess strong networking, communication, and logical reasoning skills. Most firms use a commission and bonus compensation structure, which encourages competition and often delivers high earning potential.
To earn a steady income, prepare to put in many work hours and outperform competitors. The long hours and high stakes can create competitive workplaces. If you do not perform well under pressure, you may want to consider accounting jobs in firms that handle mutual funds, private equity, or ETFs rather than hedge funds.
The Job Hunt
Securing a job as a hedge fund accountant may take some effort, but you can use some available resources to become more competitive in the job market. If you decide to intern for an investment firm, consider asking for job information from your mentor.
To build your professional network, you can also request interviews with hedge fund firms. Ask for additional names of professionals to contact at the end of your meeting.
Finally, online employment marketplaces allow you to search for openings. Below, we list four job sites that may help you on your quest to land your dream job.
Indeed offers job listings and allows aspiring professionals to apply for positions and upload their hedge fund accountant resumes. The job board also provides free resume and cover letter templates.
Glassdoor features company reviews by current and former employees, along with salary data. Users can also search for jobs and apply for available positions.
Zip Recruiter distributes employer-sponsored job ads to more than 100 job sites. This online marketplace also features one-click job applications.
Google allows applicants to search for desired job postings within specific parameters, such as "fund accounting jobs in Kansas" or "hedge fund accountant." Google then browses online employment marketplaces and provides a list of job openings that match the entered specifications.
Read more tips on job searching:
- How do you professionally network in accounting?
- Is it worth working with a recruiter?
- How do you write a resume?
A career as a hedge fund accountant may offer opportunities to pursue advanced work as a hedge fund manager. Below, we review some key differences between the two occupations.
- Job Responsibilities: Hedge fund accountants analyze the financial health of hedge funds and make recommendations to hedge fund managers. Hedge fund managers oversee the work of hedge fund accountants and traders, monitor and research markets, and meet with clients to raise investment capital.
- Additional Core Competencies: In addition to core competencies in analytical reasoning, communication, and networking, successful hedge fund managers often possess strong negotiation and decision-making skills
- Salary Expectations: As of 2020, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports a median annual salary of $73,560 for accountants and auditors and $134,180 for financial managers. These two categories include broader roles in the accounting field but still encompass hedge fund accountants and managers.
Questions About the Hedge Fund Accountant Career Path
What degree do you need to become a fund accountant?
A fund accountant must hold at least a bachelor's degree in accounting. Many employers prefer candidates with master's degrees in accounting or other related fields.
How long does it take to start a hedge fund accountant career?
Most employers only hire candidates with a minimum of three years of investment experience, regardless of prior academic credentials. If you opt for a master's degree, licensure, and certification, you may be able to start your hedge fund accounting career nine years after graduating from high school.
What certifications do you need along the hedge fund accountant career path?
A career as a hedge fund accountant does not require any certifications, but successful hedge fund accountants often hold RIA, CAIA, CHFR, or CHA certification.
Are hedge fund accountants in demand?
The BLS projects a 7% job growth rate for accountants and auditors from 2020-2030, keeping with the national average for all occupations.
Featured Image: Cavan Images / Cavan / Getty Images
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