Asset Manager vs. Investment Manager: Definitions and Differences

Updated June 24, 2022

Asset managers and investment managers both aim to make decisions that earn their clients the most profit possible. Asset management focuses on handling a client's physical assets, while investment management is a more general term for handling a client's investments. Learning about the differences between asset managers and investment managers may help you better determine which career to pursue. In this article, we discuss what asset and investment managers do, the key differences between the two professions and how to choose which job is right for you.

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What is an asset manager?

An asset manager is a financial professional who analyzes, collects and handles a client's financial portfolio. Asset managers focus on specific asset investments, such as real estate, exchange-traded funds, stocks or fixed-income securities. An asset manager's goal is to increase returns from client investments and restructure them when needed to gain their clients more profit.

Related: What Is Asset Management?

What is an investment manager?

An investment manager is a general term for a financial professional who uses risk assessment to ensure their clients receive a profitable return on their investments. Their duties include tax planning, estate planning, retirement planning, philanthropy and education. The main goal of an investment manager is to generate a steady flow of profit through investment strategies for their clients.

Related: What Is Investment Management?

Asset manager vs. investment manager

Here are the key differences between asset managers and investment managers:


A primary difference between asset managers and investment managers is their clientele. Asset managers typically work with individuals or businesses that have extensive amounts of money, while investment managers often work with individuals or businesses with any size of income.


Here are the basic responsibilities for each professional:

Asset manager

Since asset managers focus on a client's wide range of financial assets, their duties may look different from investment managers. Here is a list of the different responsibilities asset managers handle:

  • Managing client assets based on goals: Asset managers handle their clients' assets to meet any short-term or long-term financial goals they may have.

  • Meeting with clients to analyze finances: Asset managers meet with their clients to assess their financial needs and risks related to their assets.

  • Creating financial statements and reports: Asset managers prepare statements for their clients to help them visualize their improvement and evaluate what financial aspects require change.

  • Developing and handling client portfolios: Asset managers develop and maintain their clients' portfolios to keep their finances organized and updated.

Investment manager

Investment managers focus on handling their clients' financial investments and advise clients on decisions that may be lucrative. Here is a list of the responsibilities investment managers handle:

  • Evaluating economic risks: Investment managers review data and perform statistical analysis to learn about the general state of the economy and specific risks related to each client's target markets.

  • Deciding which investments to pursue: Investment managers analyze financial data and risk probability to decide which investments are best for their clients to pursue.

  • Preparing investment reports: Investment managers prepare financial reports for their clients so that they can keep them informed on how their investments are performing.

  • Changing investments based on profitability: Investment managers analyze how much profit an investment generates for their client and decide whether to keep the investment or find something else in which to invest that may be more profitable.

Salaries and job outlook

Here are the national average salaries for asset managers and investment managers:

  • Asset manager: $75,945 per year

  • Investment manager: $87,113 per year

Financial manager positions, including asset managers and investment managers, have a positive job outlook, especially in roles that handle risk management. The Bureau of Labor Statistics expects the number of financial managing jobs to grow 15% from 2019 to 2029, which is a much faster growth rate than the national average.

Career advancement opportunities for asset managers and investment managers

Here are a few ways that asset managers and investment managers can advance in their careers:

Earn an MBA

Earning an MBA helps asset managers and investment managers advance their careers and makes employers more likely to promote them within a company. To find an MBA program for asset managers and investment managers, you can perform research to see which program is the right fit for you. There are certain MBA programs that asset and investment managers may find useful, such as an MBA in investment management or finance. Many colleges offer MBA programs online or in-person.

Related: How To Get an MBA: A Step-by-Step Guide

Get certified

Completing a certification program teaches asset managers and investment managers more skills and information relevant to their field, which can offer more opportunities for career advancement. Here are two common certifications within financial management that benefit asset and investment managers:

  • Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA): The CFA Institute offers this certification, which qualifies individuals to gain expertise in economics, financial reporting, investment evaluation and portfolio management.

  • Chartered Alternative Investment Analyst (CAIA): The Chartered Alternative Investment Analyst Association offers this certification, which qualifies individuals to work with private equity, asset allocation models, real estate evaluation, risk management and investments.

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How to decide between asset management and investment management

Here are a few ways to help you decide which career to pursue:

1. Seek internships

A great way to choose which profession you prefer is to try working in each specialty to see which you enjoy more. To gain experience within each specialty, consider seeking internships at asset management or investment management firms. An asset management internship may include handling a client's physical assets and analyzing investment returns, while an investment management internship may include working with stocks or equity investing in businesses. Once you have worked within each field, you may have a better idea of which profession is right for you.

2. Connect with asset and investment managers

Talking to asset managers and investment managers is a useful way of helping you decide which career to choose. You may discuss what they like and dislike about their jobs and learn what their daily responsibilities include. You could establish a connection with asset managers and investment managers by joining professional investment organizations. Consider attending financial management networking events to meet many professionals.

Related: The Complete Guide To Networking

3. Consider your professional goals

When deciding which career to pursue, it's important to consider your professional goals. Asset managers and investment managers have different duties, which means there's a different set of goals for each job. If you want to generate income for your clients so that they earn a high profit off of their investments, you may consider investment management. However, if you are more interested in general finances, such as maintaining a client's funds, consider pursuing asset management.

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