Job Description: Financial Analyst
If you're looking for a career in finance that crosses between all disciplines – maths, accountancy, economics etc – and which gives you scope for high earnings plus real kudos, then you might want to consider being a Financial Analyst.
A financial analyst researches macroeconomic and microeconomic conditions along with company fundamentals to make business, sector and industry recommendations. They often recommend a course of action, such as to buy or sell a company's stock based upon its overall current and predicted strength. An analyst must be aware of current developments in their specialist fields and be involved in preparing financial models to predict future economic conditions, and making those all important recommendations and conclusions.
You may also work as an analyst compiling reports on which other investment companies make their decisions. You will be providing market information for other companies to use and making recommendations. Indeed, you may be a specialist analyst, just studying one industry sector or marketplace.
As an analyst in an investment bank however, you’ll be forecasting and making recommendations to senior partners regarding whether to buy another company, or merge, or whether to invest your bank’s money in a start-up company.
Is it for you?
The financial analyst is a rare breed and puts you in a niche that often leads to other career opportunities. Becoming an analyst can be challenging and you’ll need to be ultra competitive, but as you might expect the rewards are high.
You’ll be continually open to news and information in the form of articles, broadcasts, snippets and press releases. You’ll be good with spreadsheets, stats and reports. You’ll nearly always be making recommendations to clients or senior management and complying with all legal and protocol requirements.
If you prove to have the golden touch, are good at networking and making correct recommendations you’ll be feted by your industry and probably invited onto the boards of banks, investment houses, hedge funds and any other number of richly rewarded, high profile financial institutions – the world really will be your oyster.
Qualifications and Skills
If you're still an undergraduate and are considering a career as a financial analyst, then you need to be taking courses in business, economics, accounting and mathematics.
As a financial analyst you could be helping an organisation decide which stocks and shares to buy. In other words, you’ll be running your eyes over good investments and deciding which of your company’s portfolio of stocks to buy or sell off.
Obviously, you’ll be crunching numbers and using statistics, although other subjects which show your ability to make use of data include computer sciences, biology, physics and even engineering. As a junior analyst these subjects are crucial, however, Senior Analysts are often hired right out of business school.
There are other specialist exams you can take, however, if you’re not an MBA whizz-kid.
Opportunities and Salaries
Financial analysts are used by insurance companies and investment banks and many other money-management institutions. As with any other specialist profession in the private sector your fees will rise with your proficiency – and reputation.
In something like investment banking or an asset management organisation you can start out at £22k rising to £60k for someone with more than four years good experience. Consultant financial analysts can be employed on day rates of £300 upwards per day.