Financial analysts provide guidance to businesses and individuals making investment decisions.
What they do
Financial Analysts assess the performance of stocks, bonds, and other types of investments.
They typically do the following:
- Recommend individual investments and collections of investments, which are known as portfolios
- Evaluate current and historical financial data
- Study economic and business trends
- Examine a company’s financial statements to determine its value
- Meet with company officials to gain better insight into the company’s prospects
- Assess the strength of the management team
- Prepare written reports
Financial analysts evaluate investment opportunities. They work in banks, pension funds, mutual funds, securities firms, insurance companies, and other businesses. Financial analysts are also called securities analysts and investment analysts.
Financial analysts can be divided into two categories: buy-side analysts and sell-side analysts.
- Buy-side analysts develop investment strategies for companies that have a lot of money to invest. These companies, called institutional investors, include hedge funds, insurance companies, independent money managers, and nonprofit organizations with large endowments, such as some universities.
- Sell-side analysts advise financial services sales agents who sell stocks, bonds, and other investments.
Some analysts work for the business media or other research houses, which are independent from the buy and sell side.
Financial analysts generally focus on trends affecting a specific industry, geographical region, or type of product. For example, an analyst may focus on a subject area such as the energy industry, a world region such as Eastern Europe, or the foreign exchange market. They must understand how new regulations, policies, political situations, and economic trends may affect investments.
Investing is becoming more global, and some financial analysts specialize in a particular country or region. Companies want those financial analysts to understand the language, culture, business environment, and political conditions in the country or region that they cover.
The following are examples of types of financial analysts:
Portfolio managers select the mix of products, industries, and regions for their company’s investment portfolio. These managers are responsible for the overall performance of the portfolio. They are also expected to explain investment decisions and strategies in meetings with stakeholders.
Fund managers work exclusively with hedge funds or mutual funds. Both fund and portfolio managers frequently make buy or sell decisions in reaction to quickly changing market conditions.
Ratings analysts evaluate the ability of companies or governments to pay their debts, including bonds. On the basis of their evaluation, a management team rates the risk of a company or government not being able to repay its bonds.
Risk analysts evaluate the risk in investment decisions and determine how to manage unpredictability and limit potential losses. This job is carried out by making investment decisions such as selecting dissimilar stocks or having a combination of stocks, bonds, and mutual funds in a portfolio.
Financial analysts work primarily in offices but travel frequently to visit companies or clients. Many financial analysts work at large financial institutions based in New York City or other major financial centers.
How to become a Financial Analyst
Financial analysts typically must have a bachelor’s degree.
Most positions require a bachelor’s degree. A number of fields of study provide appropriate preparation, including accounting, economics, finance, statistics, and mathematics.
The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) is the main licensing organization for the securities industry. A license is generally required to sell financial products, which may apply to some financial analyst positions. Because most of the licenses require sponsorship by an employer, companies do not expect individuals to have these licenses before starting a job.
Employers often recommend certification, which can improve the chances for advancement. An example is the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) certification from the CFA Institute. Financial analysts can become CFA certified if they have a bachelor’s degree, 4 years of qualified work experience, and pass three exams. Financial analysts can also become certified in their field of specialty.
The median annual wage for financial analysts was $81,590 in May 2019. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $47,230, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $156,150.
Employment of financial analysts is projected to grow 5 percent from 2019 to 2029, faster than the average for all occupations. A growing range of financial products and the need for in-depth knowledge of geographic regions are expected to lead to strong employment growth.
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. In addition, emerging markets throughout the world are providing new investment opportunities, which require expertise in geographic regions where those markets are located.
Similar Job Titles
Analyst, Credit Products Officer, Equity Research Analyst, Financial Analyst, Investment Analyst, Planning Analyst, Portfolio Manager, Real Estate Analyst, Securities Analyst, Trust Officer
Market Research Analyst and Marketing Specialist, Accountant, Auditor, Budget Analyst, Risk Management Specialist
The trade associations listed below represent organizations made up of people (members) who work and promote advancement in the field. Members are very interested in telling others about their work and about careers in those areas. As well, trade associations provide opportunities for organizational networking and learning more about the field’s trends and directions.
- Association for Financial Professionals
- CFA Institute
- American Association of Finance and Accounting
- The Financial Planning Association
- The National Association of Personal Financial Advisors
- The National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors
Magazines and Publications
- Senior Financial Analyst
- Financial Management Magazine
- Financial Advisors Magazine
- The Kiplinger
- The Economist
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Investing has become more complex than ever. There are literally thousands of stocks, bonds and funds to choose from. That's why advice from Financial Analysts is in great demand. They do the research that helps investors make decisions. The analyst examines a company's financial records, its projections, even its competitors to get a handle on whether it's a smart investment...or a risky one. While analysts may travel to visit companies they're analyzing, for a firsthand look, much of the work is done from an office desk, using computers and phones. Based upon their research, they make recommendations to their clients. Some analysts advise banks, insurance companies and other large investment groups. Other analysts are employed by firms that handle investments for individuals. In either case, the requirements are the same: you need strong math and analytical skills, as well as keen business savvy. A college education is usually a must. To move ahead in the field, a financial analyst might seek an advanced degree in business, and certification as a Chartered Financial Analyst. More and more organizations and individuals are turning to investing to increase the return on their money. That means the job outlook for financial analysts is becoming increasingly "bullish."
Content retrieved from: US Bureau of Labor Statistics-OOH www.bls.gov/ooh,
CareerOneStop www.careeronestop.org, O*Net Online www.onetonline.org