Real Estate would give you an opportunity to get a position in Finance department. Good real-estate programs are at Berkeley and McCombs. Insurance and Risk would probably place you in the Management Science / Operations Management department instead of the Finance department. The academic salaries would be about 30% - 40% lower than the Finance professor salaries. In industry positions, the Finance PhDs would typically earn 2 - 3 times more than the Risk / Insurance / Management Science PhDs, even though those salaries are also quite high. This is of course assuming that the Finance PhD is working as a strategist / research / stat arb role in a hedge fund. I am not quite sure what the Risk function does in the banks, but I do know that the salaries and bonuses are significantly lower than the FO people.