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What finance electives should I take?

Deciding what finance electives to take can be a difficult process given the breadth of options available and career path you wish to take (e.g. accounting, investment banking, corporate finance, equity research, etc.)


Whilst the material in core courses such as Capital Markets and Institutions (UNSW’s FINS1612) and Quantitative Business Analysis (USYD’s BUSS1020) is used widely across the finance industry, students need to be selective in deciding what electives to take as specialisation is required to perform different roles. For example, whilst students who wish to pursue an accounting career would primarily be analysing and verifying the quality of a company’s financial statements, an investment banker career would focus on creating financial models to value a company subject to a potential merger/acquisition. Whilst both roles fall within the domain of finance, the required skills are different.


This blog is intended for students who wish to pursue a career in investment management where typical responsibilities are focused on:

1. Analysing stocks or bonds, or real or alternative assets;

2. Asset allocation (creating and managing portfolios); and

3. Providing financial advice (wealth management) or recommendations (recommending a buy/hold/sell on a financial security).


Some of the most common knowledge areas within investment management are listed below with relevant electives offered by the University of New South Wales (UNSW) and University of Sydney (USYD). Students attending other universities can search for electives that have similar keywords.


  • Financial Modelling/Security Analysis and Valuation
    • UNSW: FINS3640, FINS3641
    • USYD: FINC3015, FINC3019
  • Portfolio Management
    • UNSW: FINS2624 (CORE)
    • USYD: FINC3017
  • Derivatives and their Role in Portfolios/Risk Management
    • UNSW: FINS3635
    • USYD: FINC3012, FINC3020
  • Wealth Management/Financial Advice
    • UNSW: FINS2643, FINS3655
    • USYD: FINC3023


If you are still undecided or want to switch to an investment management career later on, pursuing a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA®) charter could be considered. A CFA charter is a designation given to those who have completed the CFA Program and completed acceptable work experience requirements. The CFA Program is a three-part exam that tests the fundamentals of investment tools, valuing assets, portfolio management and wealth planning. Compared to university finance courses, the curriculum of the CFA Program is more focused on the investment management industry. It is one of the most respected designations in finance and is widely considered to be the gold standard in the field of investment management.


By: Hugh Lam

Date: 28 March 2023


Students interested in pursuing the CFA Program to become a CFA charterholder, will find the aforementioned electives very helpful.

Learn more about CFA Program >

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Achieve one of the highest distinctions in the investment management profession: Become a Chartered Financial Analyst® (CFA®). As a CFA® charterholder, you will have the knowledge and the skills to thrive in the competitive investing industry.