Spotlights

Job Description

They say it takes money to make money and investing is the most common way of doing that. From stocks and bonds to real estate and cryptocurrencies, investing is one of the most tried-and-true methods of earning profits over the long run. However, it’s also inherently risky since markets fluctuate all the time due to factors impacting companies and the economy as a whole. There are zero guarantees of reaping a return on investment, and it’s entirely possible to lose all your money. 

That’s why savvy investors turn to Financial Analysts who can advise them on strategies that are right for their budget, goals, risk tolerance, and timelines. Financial Analysts study how stocks, real estate, and other investment types are doing, then try to predict future performance. Because there are so many human elements in the equation, such analysis is as much an art as it is a science. 

Generally speaking, Financial Analysts focus on either the “buy-side” (for hedge funds, insurance companies, pension funds, and big companies with large amounts of capital to invest) or the “sell-side” (for financial services sales agents selling investment options). Some work strictly for media and research employers who aren’t involved in buying or selling. They may specialize in particular regions, industries, or products. 

Financial Analysis is a broad career field to break into! The term Financial Analyst encompasses financial risk specialists, fund and portfolio managers, investment analysts, ratings analysts, and securities analysts. Each role varies in duties and scope of responsibility, but they’re all tied to the dynamic field of financial analysis.

Rewarding Aspects of Career
  • Helping employers earn profits used to benefit companies or individuals
  • Being part of the world of investing, which has economic impacts on every person on Earth
  • Learning how equities (stocks), bonds, real assets (real estate, commodities like gold, oil), and cryptos function as investments 
2021 Employment
373,800
2031 Projected Employment
405,700
The Inside Scoop
Job Responsibilities

Working Schedule

Financial Analysts work typical day schedules, with overtime or evening work necessary depending on client needs. Work is usually indoors, with some travel needed from time to time.  

Typical Duties

  • Review client financials (income statements, balance sheets, cash flow) to assess their capital needs, investment budgets, and risk tolerance 
  • Consider investment types and portfolios to recommend to clients
  • Suggest investment remedies, debt restructuring, refinancing, and other fixes to an employer’s financial problems
  • Prepare reports and presentation materials with explanatory graphics to help clients understand options
  • Study companies whose stocks might be potentially good investments. Conduct site visits, as needed
  • Evaluate historical real estate sales data to forecast if a property is a viable investment 
  • Utilize financial models and programs to aid with developing investment strategies
  • Pay attention to local, national, and global economic and business trends
  • Prepare and execute approved action plans for financial investments, transactions, and deals
  • Work with investment bankers, accountants, PR staff, attorneys, and other relevant parties
  • Evaluate existing investment performance and recommend adjustments or sales
  • Seek out new opportunities to diversify, boost potential profits, and mitigate risk
  • Compare securities in various industries 
  • Analyze data regarding prices, yields, and stability
  • Collaborate as needed with governmental agencies. Ensure compliance with regulations and laws
  • Help clients understand tax implications of investments

Additional Responsibilities

Skills Needed on the Job

Soft Skills

  • Active listening
  • Adaptability
  • Analytical
  • Compliance-oriented
  • Critical thinking
  • Detail-oriented
  • Discipline
  • Financial acumen
  • Patience
  • Persistence 
  • Persuasion
  • Planning and organization
  • Problem-solving skills
  • Skepticism
  • Sound judgment 
  • Strong communication skills
  • Teamwork
  • Time management 

Technical Skills

  • Math and accounting skills
  • Strong understanding of economics and investments
  • Familiarity with applicable laws governing the securities industry, such as: 
    • Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010
    • Investment Advisers Act of 1940
    • Investment Company Act of 1940
    • Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act of 2012
    • Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002
    • Securities Act of 1933
    • Securities Exchange Act of 1934
    • Trust Indenture Act of 1939
  • Analytical software such as SAS, MATLAB, Spotfire, QlikView, Tableau, and MicroStrategy
  • Other digital tools including Excel, SQL, VBA, Python, and R
Different Types of Organizations
  • Banks
  • Credit intermediation services
  • Financial investment companies
  • Insurance companies
  • Pension funds
  • Private companies and corporations
  • Real estate brokerages
Expectations and Sacrifices

Investors rely heavily on the expertise of their Financial Analyst teams. Sound investments can equal long-term profitability and stability, which often translates to ongoing work for a company’s employees. Bad investments might cause a business to suffer significant financial losses, leading to downsizing, worker layoffs, or even bankruptcy. 

Expectations run high and Financial Analysts must work hard to conduct thorough research and create accurate models to forecast the best investments for their clients’ needs. As Zippia points out, “while financial analysts are usually paid well, it comes at the cost of a healthy work-life balance in many cases.” Potentially long hours and the stress from so much pressure causes some analysts to experience burnout. 

Current Trends

The economy has been seeing turbulent times, with investors riding a rollercoaster as stocks, mutual funds, ETFs, real estate, and crypto prices have fluctuated in unpredictable ways. Such volatility is the opposite of what most Financial Analysts want to see when it comes to wealth building, yet there haven’t been many safe harbors lately. There are relatively safe options such as savings accounts, bonds, treasury bills, and similar items, but the return on such low-risk investments may not even keep up with inflation. Meanwhile, some analysts do suggest taking advantage of lowered stock prices, advocating a “buy the dip” strategy while stocks are “on sale.” 

The digitalization of currency has become a growing trend, with plenty of investors viewing cryptocurrencies and NFTs (non-fungible tokens) as an intriguing alternative to traditional investment vehicles. Indeed, venture capitalists alone sank over $33 billion in crypto and blockchain in 2021. Meanwhile, trading apps have utterly revolutionized how everyday people trade, which in turn impacts the overall market greatly. 

What kinds of things did people in this career enjoy doing when they were younger…

Financial Analysts may have always enjoyed learning about money, how it works, and how it can be used to make even more money! Growing up, they might have been entrepreneurs who launched their own side hustles online or in-person. They could have enjoyed playing around with stocks and cryptos, trading via mobile apps and engaging in online forums. It’s possible they liked math, finance, economics, and programming classes in school. Others might have come to them for help or advice about investments, leading them to realize they could turn their skills into a well-paid profession one day! 

Education and Training Needed
Things to look for in an university
  • Try to decide early on if you plan to pursue a master’s or not. It may be easier to complete both your bachelor’s and master’s at the same school
  • Consider the cost of tuition, discounts, and local scholarship opportunities (in addition to federal aid)
  • Think about your schedule and flexibility when deciding whether to enroll in an on-campus, online, or hybrid program
  • Check out the program’s faculty awards and accomplishments to see what they’ve worked on
  • Review job placement stats and details about the program’s alumni network 
Things to do in High School and College
  • Consider applying for part-time jobs in accounting or finance
  • Study hard in math, finance, economics, statistics, business, physics, and computer science/programming classes
  • Volunteer for student activities where you can manage money and learn practical soft skills
  • Learn about the various types of Financial Analyst roles, such as financial risk specialists, fund and portfolio managers, investment analysts, ratings analysts, and securities analysts
  • Review job postings in advance to see what the average requirements are. If you know which company or employer you want to work for, ask to schedule an informational interview with one of their working analysts to learn more about their jobs and their clients’ needs
  • Seek out internships and cooperative experiences in college
  • Keep track of the names and contact info of people who might serve as future job references 
  • Study books, articles, and video tutorials related to different types of investing. Participate in online discussion groups that are realistic and grounded in actual analysis 
  • Consider if you want to specialize in a particular region, industry, or investment type so you can tailor your education accordingly
  • Engage with professional organizations to learn, share, make friends, and grow your network (see our list of Resources > Websites)
  • Knock out any relevant certifications as soon as you can to bolster credentials and make you more competitive in the job market
  • Start drafting your resume early and keep adding to it as you go, so you don’t lose track of anything
How to Land your 1st job
  • Get some practical work experience under your belt before applying, if possible. Jobs related to finance, accounting, and business will look good on an application 
  • A master’s isn’t needed to get started working in this field, but a graduate degree may put you ahead of the competition
  • Let your network know you are looking for work. Most job opportunities are actually discovered through personal connections
  • Check out job portals such as Indeed, Simply Hired, and Glassdoor, as well as the career pages of companies you are interested in working for
  • Screen ads carefully and only apply if you’re fully qualified
  • Finance-related apprenticeships or cooperative experiences can help get your foot in the door. They look great on resumes plus may yield some personal references for later
  • Reach out to working Financial Analysts to ask for job-seeking tips
  • Move to where the most job opportunities are! The states with the highest employment level for Financial Analysts are New York, California, Texas, Illinois, and Florida
  • Many big companies recruit grads from local programs, so ask your college’s program or career center for help connecting with recruiters and job fairs
  • Ask former teachers and supervisors ahead of time if they’ll serve as personal references. Don’t catch them off guard by listing their contact info without permission
  • Make an account on Quora to ask job advice questions from workers in the field
  • Check out Financial Analyst resume templates to get ideas 
  • Tailor your resume to the job you’re applying for, versus sending out the same resume to every employer
  • List all education, skills, training, and work history on your resume, including stats on return on investments (if applicable) 
  • Consider having your resume drafted or reviewed by a professional resume writer or editor 
  • Financial Analyst interview questions to prepare for those interviews 
  • Dress appropriately for job interview success! 
How to Climb the Ladder
  • Consistently earn your employers/clients a strong return on investment and build them portfolios that can weather economic storms 
  • Work extra hours as needed, to ensure you’re doing your best for those who’ve entrusted you with their funds 
    • Take your responsibilities for handling other people’s money seriously
    • Understand and comply with all legal and ethical requirements 
    • Utilize the most up-to-date programs and techniques to maximize returns 
  • Learn as much as you can about the various aspects of financial analysis, while also specializing in your chosen field 
  • Expect to start out in entry-level roles then work your way up to positions of greater responsibility, such as portfolio manager or fund manager
  • Get your FINRA license as soon as you are able, and obtain advanced certificates when you have enough work experience 
  • If you don’t already have a master’s, consider doing an MBA program at night while working
  • Let your manager know when you’re ready to tackle more or larger projects 
  • Collaborate effectively on teams, stay level-headed and focused, and demonstrate leadership when opportunities arise
  • Grow your network by participating in professional organizations
Plan B

Working as a Financial Analyst can be stressful at times, especially when the economy is rocky and it is tougher to earn good return on investments. Oftentimes, analysts get blamed for results based on factors far beyond their control. A few related occupations to consider, per the Bureau of Labor Statistics, include: 

  • Budget Analyst
  • Financial Manager
  • Insurance Underwriter
  • Personal Financial Advisor
  • Securities, Commodities, and Financial Services Sales Agent

In addition, O*Net Online lists the below-related fields: 

  • Credit Analyst
  • Financial Risk Specialist 
  • Investment Fund Manager

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