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What Is a Financial Analyst?

A financial analyst is a professional who assesses the financial performance of a company and makes recommendations regarding investments and strategies to increase revenue. Financial analysts may also guide individuals who are looking to make personal investments.

What Do People in Financial Analyst Jobs Do?

The day-to-day duties of people in financial analyst jobs vary depending on their employer and position within the company.

However, some common tasks that financial analysts may perform include the following.

  • Researching economic trends, industries, and companies
  • Analyzing data to identify opportunities and risks
  • Creating financial models to forecast future performance
  • Presenting findings to upper management

Other important financial analyst job duties include staying up-to-date on changes in the marketplace and providing recommendations on how to improve the financial health of the company.

Where Do People in Financial Analyst Jobs Work?

Most financial analyst jobs exist in the corporate sector, specifically at large organizations that need this type of expertise to make sound financial decisions. Financial analysts typically work for banks, investment firms, accounting firms, or large corporations.

However, there are also some opportunities in government and nonprofit organizations. A small number of financial analysts work independently as consultants.

What Degree Is Required to Become a Financial Analyst?

While even entry level financial analyst jobs will likely require a degree, there is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question. That’s because the specific degree needed to become a financial analyst may vary depending on the company or organization you are interested in.

That said, many employers prefer candidates who have earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration, economics, accounting, finance, or mathematics. Some companies will accept candidates with degrees in other disciplines if they have relevant experience in the field. Other job opportunities for financial analysts require a master’s degree.

Licensing comes into play when selling financial products. The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) administers exams, called the Series exams, which people must pass to earn a license. As well, there are additional licenses that depend on specific financial products.

For example, someone who wants to sell stocks and bonds would need to pass one type of exam, while someone who wants to sell insurance would go through a different exam.

How Much Money Does a Financial Analyst Earn?

The salary of a financial analyst can vary widely depending on factors such as experience, position within the company, and location. However, according to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual salary for a financial analyst is approximately $84,000. The median hourly pay comes to $40.

The highest 10% of all financial analysts earn almost $160,000 per year. The lowest 10% earn just under $49,000 annually. The top median yearly wages inside the financial analyst industry come in at the following numbers.

  • Credit intermediation: $79,000
  • Insurance carriers and related industries: $82,000
  • Management of enterprises and companies: $86,000
  • Technical, scientific, and professional services: $86,300
  • Commodity contracts, securities, and other financial investments: $99,000

The average financial analyst works a full-time schedule of at least 40 hours per week. Sometimes, this position requires extra hours during busy seasons. Moreover, a financial analyst working as a fund manager earns fees and commissions based on the fund’s annual return and overall assets under management.

Financial Analyst Job Requirements

In addition to degree requirements, many employers prefer candidates who have taken courses in investment analysis and portfolio management. Other employers like to see some years of work experience in a related field.

Some companies also require their financial analysts to possess licenses such as the Certified Public Accountant (CPA) license or the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) certification.

A financial analyst must possess various soft and hard skills that include the following:

  • Analytical skills: A financial analyst must be able to take in a large amount of data and analyze it to find trends and opportunities.
  • Problem-solving skills: Financial analysts often work on complex problems that have no easy solution. They must be able to think outside the box to come up with creative solutions.
  • Critical thinking: Financial analysts must be able to look at data and information and make sound judgments.
  • Attention to detail: Financial analysts often work with detailed financial data, so they must be precise in their work.
  • Time management: Financial analysts have a lot of responsibilities, so they must be good at managing their time effectively.
  • Interpersonal skills: Financial analysts often work in teams, so they must be able to cooperate and collaborate with others.
  • Communication: Financial analysts must be able to communicate their findings and recommendations clearly and concisely.

Financial Analyst Career Path

A financial analyst typically starts in entry-level positions and then will find openings to more senior financial analyst jobs as they gain experience. With enough experience, a financial analyst can eventually become a financial manager or director.

Some financial analysts also choose to pursue careers in investment banking, venture capital, consulting, asset management, or other related fields. Others may decide to start their consulting firms.

The most important thing for financial analysts is to stay up-to-date on changes in the marketplace so they can provide valuable insights to their employers.

The overall job outlook for the financial analyst industry remains positive going forward. It’s estimated that this sector will continue to grow by 6% through the year 2030. Each year, more than 41,000 new financial analyst jobs open up. Many of these job openings reflect a sizable number of financial analysts moving into retirement.

Other factors influencing financial analyst job growth include a need for more in-depth knowledge in certain geographic regions and a growing number of financial products.

Companies need financial analysts to analyze new investment opportunities each time a new company comes into existence. Newer investment opportunities continue to arise inside various emerging global markets.

Other factors that drive demand for more financial analysts include technological advancements and big data improvements. These fields require high-quality analysis to help a range of businesses produce new products and services to customers, identify investment trends, and manage their finances.

Overall, going into the financial analyst field looks promising for years to come.

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