what is a financial analyst?

Corporations don't just make and sell products. They invest in stocks and real estate, buy advertisements, make business acquisitions, purchase real estate and manage financial portfolios. As a financial analyst, you'll study data and trends to make recommendations. You won't necessarily make the final decision, but your manager trusts your expertise.

Most financial analysts are buy-side analysts, meaning that they recommend purchases and investments. With your help, your business earns additional income from a strong investment portfolio. You'll also suggest the amount that they should spend on certain aspects of the business, such as marketing. If you'd rather become a sell-side analyst, you'll work with financial services sales agents whose clients include businesses and individuals.

From small towns to entire continents, every region has a different economy. Global trends, such as inflation, impact the worldwide market, but you'll need to watch the local economy to succeed. While you can't predict the future, you'll identify possible opportunities, risks and losses in your area, potentially protecting your business from failed investments.

If you have a specific strength, you can specialize in funds, securities, portfolios, financial risks and other areas. You might work alongside other financial analysts to build a plan for your company.

Would working as a financial analyst suit your research and analytical skills? Then read on to find out what competencies and qualifications you need to thrive in a financial analyst role.

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average financial analyst salary

Would you like to know what a financial analyst earns? Where the highest salaries are paid for a financial analyst? Then check out this financial analyst salary page and find out all about the salary of a financial analyst in the USA.

Man and woman working together. China. Primary color: red.
Man and woman working together. China. Primary color: red.

types of financial analyst

Almost every industry offers analyst roles that involve collecting and analyzing data, effective communication, leveraging business insights, and problem-solving to support informed decision-making. Depending on the industry, the specific areas of focus may vary.

For example, while a financial analyst working for a government agency may be responsible for assessing the impact of policies or regulations, a finance analyst in the technology sector might evaluate system performance data. There are various types of financial analysts.


working as a financial analyst

Companies trust financial analysts to make some of their biggest decisions. Learn about the skills and qualifications that you need to succeed in this environment.


financial analyst skills and education

Most financial analysts need a bachelor's degree. A business- or finance-related major gives you the skills that you need to succeed in your job. Continuing your education with a master's degree, such as a master's of business administration (MBA), could open up more high-paying jobs.

Your first employer won't necessarily require certifications. Instead, they could sponsor your Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) license after you start working. FINRA regulates financial businesses to ensure that they treat customers fairly. Having a FINRA license gives you an advantage, but many businesses hire unlicensed workers.

A Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) certification gives your resume an extra boost. To receive a CFA certification, you'll need to earn a bachelor's degree and work as a financial analyst for four years. Afterward, you'll need to pass three exams to prove your knowledge. You can prove your knowledge even further by seeking certifications for specialized areas.

Look out for additional certifications and licenses throughout your career. Similarly, stay on top of software updates so that you always know how to navigate the systems. Employers prefer analysts who require little training.

As an analyst, you'll communicate with a variety of people with different knowledge levels. You'll need to be able to explain concepts to managers, clients, business owners and fellow analysts in ways that make sense to them. Your employer expects polite, friendly and timely communication, especially when you're nearing a deadline. Practice your writing skills as well so that you can send professional letters and emails.


FAQs about working as a financial analyst

Here you will find answers to the most frequently asked questions about financial analysts.

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