Financial analysts use their number-crunching prowess to help businesses and individuals make smart, strategic decisions about their investments. These astute pros hone their savvy by maintaining a shrewd awareness of business and economic trends. A key part of a financial analyst’s role is to be an early trend spotter, and to advise colleagues and clients accordingly.
The work that financial analysts undertake breaks out into two broad categories: sell-side analysts and buy-side analysts. The Corporate Finance Institute (CFI) explains: “The Buy Side refers to firms that purchase securities and includes investment managers, pension funds, and hedge funds. The Sell Side refers to firms that issue, sell, or trade securities, and includes investment banks, advisory firms, and corporations.”
Buy-side analysts tend to work directly for the fund. Their analysis remains confidential and is used by company insiders. Sell-side analysts’ role, on the other hand, tends to be similar to that of inside sales professionals. These pros conduct deep analysis which they share with their colleagues, financial agents who use those insights to help their clients pursue strategic investments. CFI points out that entry-level roles for financial analysts are more plentiful on the sell side.
Equity, securities, research and investment analysts are all synonyms for the role of a financial analyst. Earning this job takes skill, credentials and experience, but the rewards make the effort worth it. In fact, financial analyst emerged in the top 20 on Glassdoor’s 25 Highest Paying Jobs in America.
If you’ve got a mathematical mind, you’re a skilled researcher and you can weather a little chaos, this job could be a perfect fit for you. Read on to learn how to get a job as a financial analyst.
- How to Get Hired as a Financial Analyst
- Financial Analyst Hiring Process
- How Much Does a Financial Analyst Make?
- Financial Analyst Job Market
- Financial Analyst Job Interview Tips
- Related Careers to Financial Analyst
- Learn More!
How to Get Hired as a Financial Analyst
Working as a financial analyst requires a mathematical and detailed-oriented mind. Financial analysts have to maintain a comprehensive understanding of how the ever-fluctuating market impacts investments. Their role is dynamic, high-pressure, exciting and high-reward. So how do they earn their start?
Step one is to earn a bachelor’s degree in math, statistics, business management, accounting, finance, economics or a related course of study. Some employers require that analysts also hold a master’s degree.
The next step is to earn a license. Professionals who sell financial products are required to hold valid licenses; Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FIRA) is the prime licensing entity for the financial industry. Employers generally sponsor their employees in securing FIRA licenses.
Some employers may also require a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) certification through the CFA Institute. Earning the certification can be rigorous. To qualify, candidates need to hold a bachelor’s degree, plus they are required to have garnered four years of relevant professional experience. Finally, they need to pass a series of three exams. A benefit of certification is that it gives professionals the chance to train in an area of focus.
Some additional certifications are available, including those for international financial practitioners. These may be required for certain specialties and can be pursued via the Global Academy of Finance and Management.
Skills for being a financial analyst
This role requires that analysts possess the hard, analytical skills to make sound, strategic investment decisions. It also requires soft skills like communication skills and the ability to work on a team.
Some specific skills that financial analysts use in their work include:
- Stellar math and computation skills
- A dynamic understanding of the economy and business trends
- Research skills that enable worth assessment such as determining companies’ values based on financial statements
- The ability to recommend strategic investments
- Written and verbal reporting fluency
- The ability to converse about financials with company leaders and with clients alike
- A solid grasp of current and historical data coupled with an ever-evolving awareness of its implications
- Stellar communication skills that can support industry-versed audiences and lay audiences alike
Financial Analyst Hiring Process
When interviewing for a job as a financial analyst, use Glassdoor to thoroughly research the company. Pay attention to what previous interviewees have said about their experience. Keep in mind that interviewers will expect candidates to be versed in financial markets, modeling, and analysis. Also, be prepared to discuss both micro and macroeconomics. In addition to technical questions, prepare to demonstrate your communication and collaboration skills by shaping thorough and thoughtful answers to behavioral interview questions.
Working as a financial analyst is a grow as you go kind of job. Junior financial analysts, those in their first three years on the job, tend to be learning the ropes. Their daily work is comprised of financial modeling, gathering data and maintaining spreadsheets. This gives budding analysts an intellectual introduction into the work their field demands. It also prepares them for some of the certification course work and exams that may be required by their employer.
In their next stage of employment, analysts start to use the data they’ve been gathering to form opinions and make recommendations. They often work with mentors who help them get acclimated to the analyst role. Senior analysts may be those mentors; they are the seasoned industry pros who have a reputation for success in this demanding field.
How Much Does a Financial Analyst Make?
The national average salary for a junior financial analyst is $58,000, while the average for a midlevel financial analyst is $66,000. Seniors financial analysts earn an average base pay of $83,000. Bonuses are a common perk for this role; the average bonus reported by financial analysist is around $6,000, and bonus pay ranged from $1,700-$20,000.
By checking out Glassdoor Salaries, you can filter by location to see Financial Analyst salaries in your area. Salary estimates are based on 38,048 salaries submitted anonymously to Glassdoor by Financial Analyst employees.
Boston Consulting Group, Travelers, Cisco, Goldman Sachs, Deloitte and Edward Jones are some top employers for financial analysts.
Financial Analyst Job Market
Jobs for financial analysts are in demand and experiencing growth. The BLS reports: “Employment of financial analysts is projected to grow 11 percent from 2016 to 2026, faster than the average for all occupations. . . Demand for financial analysts tends to grow with overall economic activity. Financial analysts will be needed to evaluate investment opportunities when new businesses are established or existing businesses expand.” As the economy grows, so do these opportunities; this is true both domestically and internationally.
Some industries that hire financial analysts include business, banking, investments, insurance and government.
Financial Analyst Job Interview Tips
When you interview for a role as a financial analyst, your goal is to demonstrate that your hard skills are honed and versatile. You’ll likely be asked to showcase your problem-solving skills, and to share insights about your market savvy.
Make sure to practice your responses to common interview questions. Generally, interviewers favor some of the basics, some behavioral questions and some job-specific queries. So do your due diligence and rehearse answers in each category.
Glassdoor users shared these examples of job-specific interview questions posed to them when they were interviewing for financial analyst jobs.
- What is the relationship of treasuries and bonds?
- Why is beta important and where do you apply it?
- Calculate growth of company given the separate growth percentages of different product segments.
- How does A/R and inventory fluctuations affect the income statement?
- If you invested $100 right now and earned 10% returns in your first year and then lost 10% in year 2, how much money would you have at the end of year 2?
Additionally, these behavioral questions were shared by financial analyst interviewees:
- How would you handle an irate internal customer during a business meeting?
- Tell me about something that you did that your coworkers looked up to you for.
- Tell me about a time when you were working in a team and your opinion was challenged.
Related Careers to Financial Analyst
There are plenty of options when it comes to find your right fit role as a financial analyst. There are also many similar roles, including these:
Average base pay: $62,000
Degrees required: Bachelor’s degree
Average base pay: $52,000
Degrees required: Bachelor’s degree
Average base pay: $50,000
Degrees required: Bachelor’s degree w master’s degree and certifications preferred.
Interested in becoming a financial analyst? Find a new job and use these resources to craft a fulfilling career: