Financial Analysts: Skills, Qualifications & Career Path
Financial analysts are an integral part of the stock market and the financial industry. They provide vital services such as analyzing market trends, assessing investment policies and strategies, and researching securities and investments to uncover undervalued opportunities and make stock recommendations. To become a financial analyst, you need a certain set of skills and qualifications.
A bachelor’s degree in finance, accounting, economics, or business management is essential to get a foothold in the profession of financial analysis. Becoming a chartered financial analyst (CFA) or certified financial planner (CFP) can provide strong credentials and advanced qualifications.
Analytical and problem-solving skills are a must-have for any financial analyst. Forecasting, interpreting data, developing strategies, and making predictions require an in-depth knowledge of accounting principles, risk management, and financial instruments. Excel proficiency, theoretical knowledge, and an astute numerical ability are some of the indispensable traits of a financial analyst.
The analyst must possess excellent communication and presentation skills to explain their findings and ideas to clients, colleagues, and executive teams. It is also important for financial analysts to have the ability to research new opportunities and trends and take initiative independently. Working under pressure and getting the job done without supervision is also an important part of the role.
Most financial analyst positions require previous experience. Taking up internships during the summer months is a great way to gain relevant experience, while also completing a bachelor’s degree in the same field. Such internships can equip aspiring analysts with necessary knowledge and skills. An entry-level position in brokerage firms or financial institutions can also provide useful experience in financial analysis.
Some financial analysts are also required to obtain a license from the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA). The requirement of a license varies, depending on job duties and responsibilities that require accredited investors, such as providing investment advice and recommendations.
The career path of a financial analyst depends on the sector they work in and the specialization of their field. For example, equity analysts who specialize in research can advance to portfolio management roles. Investment banking analysts, on the other hand, can progress to roles involving research, analysis and private equity. Professionals who are experienced in corporate finance may take on roles such as Chief Financial Officer (CFO) or Director of Finance.
The median salary of a financial analyst in the United States is $59,000 per year. Successful, highly experienced analysts can earn upwards of $150,000 per year, depending on their level of expertise, the company they work for and the geographical location.
Financial analyst is a very rewarding and high-paying profession, and provides individuals the opportunity to use their financial acumen to identify valuable opportunities, create portfolios and maximize returns. A combination of relevant education, work experience, and the necessary skills is paramount to master the role of a financial analyst, and build a successful career in the field.