A Financial Analyst can be hired in a number of industries, including banking, insurance, investment, corporate, and government. In general, Financial Analysts use data to assesses different types of investments, such as stocks and bonds, and give guidance to businesses making investment decisions. Financial Analysts working for corporations use data to give financial advice on spend and budgeting rather than investments. This role is highly regarded in the world of finance and requires a strong knowledge of business, accounting, economics — both macro and micro — and mathematics. Financial Analysts have a specialized skill-set that poises them for a number of career opportunities.
Financial Analyst Responsibilities:
- Track both the macro- and micro-economy
- Coordinate with financial department
- Identify inconsistencies in forecasted financial reports when compared with with actual reports
- Create buy- and sell-side strategies and recommendations for investments
- Identify and capitalize on market trends
- Facilitate trades to generate revenue
- Maintain extensive databases of financial records
- Identify and execute potential ways to profit or reduce costs
- Create financial models for analysis and comparison
- Prepare financial reports for executives and stockholders
Financial Analyst Qualifications:
- BS/BA in Finance, Accounting, Statistics, or Economics (MBA or CFA preferred)
- Expert-level analytical and financial modeling skills
- Experience in problem solving through statistical analysis or with large data sets
- Proficient with ERP systems
- Advanced Excel
- Excellent communication skills
- Ability to think strategically
- Ability to build solutions to complex problems
Financial Analyst Salary
Financial Analyst Salary New York Average: $80,000
Financial Analyst Salary Range: $50,000 – $165,000
Earning potential of a Financial Analyst is dependent on education, years of experience, company size, industry, and location. The more experience an applicant has and the larger the hiring company, the more money that Financial Analyst is likely to make. Education also has an impact on salary, with analysts who hold a Master’s degree or professional certificate earning 5-10 percent more than analysts with a Bachelor’s degree. In addition, the industry a Financial Manager works in can affect salary. Analysts who work primarily with investment firms tend to earn more than analysts working with corporations or the government. Finally, location plays a big part in the earning potential of a Financial Analyst. Financial Analysts living in New York City earn among the highest salaries in the field.
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Financial Analyst Job Description: What Does a Financial Analyst Do?
Since “analyst” is a common and broad term used in finance jobs, the exact responsibilities of someone in this position can get complicated. Boiled down to the basics, a Financial Analyst evaluates, interprets and reports on a large sample of complex financial data so they can forecast business and investment performance. But the specific work done is dependent on the industry in which a Financial Analyst works.
We break down the two basic industries in which an analyst can work and how jobs differ in each.
Financial Analyst: Investments
Financial Analysts who focus primarily on investments often work with banks, money management firms, hedge funds and brokerages. In this capacity, the analyst uses data to give guidance on different types of investments. Financial Analysts working with investments often specialize in one specific area, such as consumer stocks or corporate bonds. This type of position can further be broken down into buy-side analysts, sell-side analysts and general investment analysts.
Buy-Side Financial Analysts
Buy-side Financial Analysts can most commonly be found working for pension funds, fund managers, and other firms that manage their own funds. Their role is to analyze stocks so they can make buy or sell recommendations. A buy-side Financial Analyst recommends stocks to add to an investment fund and tracks portfolios to decide when to sell stock. Financial Analysts working on the buy-side use reports put together by sell-side analysts when advising firms.
Sell-Side Financial Analysts
Sell-side Financial Analysts work for brokerage houses. Their job is to complete research on companies and create in-depth reports, which are used by individuals and buy-side analysts to make investment decisions. These reports are created by using data and forecasting to compare the quality of securities in specific industries or sectors. Reports put together by sell-side Financial Analysts give recommendations using terms like buy, sell, hold, strong buy and strong sell. Sell-side Financial analysts often specialize in specific industries, such as technology.
General Investment Financial Analysts
Financial Analysts who work in investment banking analyze data that help determine if deals, such as mergers and acquisitions, are feasible for the companies involved. These types of analysts rely on modeling, forecasting and current financial conditions to make recommendations to senior partners.
Financial Analyst: Corporations
Some Financial Analysts work for corporations, such as Amazon or GE. Rather than focusing on stocks, bonds and other types of investments, these types of analysts use data to give general financial recommendations to businesses. This can include developing a budget and analyzing expenditures and cash flow. Someone in this role could also help determine the optimal capital structure for a business or even help raise capital in the debt or equity markets. Nearly every type of company can benefit from the work of a Financial Analyst. Government agencies also employ Financial Analysts to perform similar tasks as those who work for corporations.
The General Role of a Financial Analyst
No matter which industry a Financial Analyst works in, he or she will be expected to do the following:
Maintain Expert Status
In order to accurately collect data and interpret findings, Financial Analysts need to stay up to date on finance trends and other information key to a company’s specific industry. This entails reading The Wall Street Journal, The Economist, The Financial Times and popular finance blogs regularly to stay on top of current events. While this is typically done outside of the office, it plays a huge role in the job of a Financial Analyst.
Financial Analysts spend a great deal of their time monitoring and interpreting massive amounts of complex data, including that from industry and economic trends. Through reporting, modeling and forecasting, Financial Analysts are able to make recommendations to top-tier managers. This requires analysts to be proficient with spreadsheets, relational databases, and both statistical and graphics packages.
While Financial Analysts gather information to help make investment or business decisions, it is not their job to execute a course of action. A Financial Analyst’s role is to use quantitative information to advise firm or company leaders. For this reason, it’s important for analysts to be able to clearly break down and explain complex data to executives and top managers. A Financial Analyst should be decisive and excellent at both thinking critically and presenting data- and trend-based recommendations.
Predict the Future
Part of what makes Financial Analysts so capable of advising executives on finance decisions is their ability to predict the future. As part of their data analysis, Financial Analysts use their knowledge of current industry developments and prepare financial models to predict future economic conditions for a number of variables.
Financial Analyst Career Path
College graduates can attain entry level Financial Analyst positions straight out of school, but to climb the ladder in this career a higher education is often required. Financial Analysts start in junior positions and work their way up to become Senior Financial Analysts. Career opportunities beyond the general analyst title are available for those who want to work in more specialized roles or take on higher level positions.
Junior Financial Analyst
Entry level Financial Analyst jobs usually come in the form of junior positions. A Junior Financial Analyst can begin a career with a Bachelor’s degree in Finance, Economics, Accounting or Statistics. An analyst in this position is considered a “junior” for the first three years of his or her career. Typically this role includes gathering data and updating financial models and spreadsheets. Just as with all Financial Analyst roles, those in junior positions are expected to be well-read in economic and industry news.
The first few years of a Junior Financial Analyst’s career is spent building a solid understanding of a specific sector or business. Often, entry level Financial Analysts dedicate some time within their role toward preparing for graduate school or professional licensing exams, such as the Series 7 exam, Series 63 exam, or CFA program. It’s common for junior level analysts with undergrad degrees to leave their position in order to earn a higher degree and return in a more senior role.
Senior Financial Analyst
A Financial Analyst can move into a senior role after 3-5 years of industry experience. Senior Financial Analysts often hold a professional license or an MBA. Whereas junior analysts focus on gathering data and maintaining spreadsheets, senior analysts use this data do develop financial recommendations. Senior Financial Analysts also spend quite a bit of time building a rapport with company leaders, since these are the individuals they will be advising on financial decisions. In addition to working with data and industry leaders, a Senior Financial Analyst is expected to work with Junior Financial Analysts in a mentorship role.
Financial Analyst Career Options
Financial Analysts have the opportunity to move beyond senior analyst positions or work in more specialized roles. Below are a few more specific jobs Financial Analysts could find themselves in.
Portfolio Manager: Financial Analysts working with investments can move into the senior role of Portfolio Manager. This position leads a team of analysts in selecting investments for a company portfolio. The Portfolio Manager should be an expert when it comes to analyzing data and explaining strategies to company executives.
Treasurer: Corporate Financial Analysts have the opportunity to become the Treasurer of a company or government agency. In this high-level role, responsibilities generally include analyzing financial risk with the goal of protecting an organization’s value. Risks Treasurers manage include liquidity, credit, interest rate, and general operational risks.
Risk Analyst: While Treasurers manage corporate financial risks, Risk Analysts manage risks within an investment firm. In this role, the analyst works to mitigate risks by recommending stocks and bonds designed to stabilize a portfolio.
Ratings Analyst: Ratings Analysts use data to assess and predict the ability of a company or government agency to pay off debt. Financial Analysts working for a corporation or government agency might consider moving into this more specialized analyst position.
Fund Manager: This high-level position is part of the investment sector, working primarily with hedge funds or mutual funds. Fund Managers manage funds by selecting which securities to sell, keep, or purchase. In addition to their ability to work with data, Financial Analysts in this position need to be able to make quick decisions within changing markets.
CFO: Financial Analysts working with a corporation or government agency have the opportunity to work their way up to the level of Chief Financial Officer. CFOs have a close working relationship with an organization’s CEO and Board of Directors. They are responsible for overseeing the finance, planning, reporting, and accounting functions of an organization. Rising to this role requires excellent communication and leadership skills.
Financial or Investment Adviser: A Financial Analyst wanting to work in a consulting capacity can work with individual clients in an adviser role. Financial Advisers and Investment Advisers work with clients who want to benefit from their ability to make data-based predictions and recommendations. Financial and Investment Advisers selling financial products, such as stocks, bonds, or insurances, need to attain a professional license first. To be successful in this type of role, it’s necessary to be able to listen actively, think critically and communicate effectively.
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