what does a financial analyst do?

  • job profiles
  • August 25, 2020

As titles go, “financial analyst” is pretty straightforward and easy to unpack. As you might suspect, they’re primarily responsible for analyzing financial information and providing recommendations. Beyond that, they work with financial information that may be sensitive in nature, so the ability to maintain strict confidentiality is a key trait as well. And as skilled finance pros with highly marketable skill sets, it’s probably worth mentioning that they’re also highly in demand on the job market right now.

What are the big-picture responsibilities of financial analysts? There are many, but here are a few of the major ones:

  • evaluating investments and investment opportunities
  • contributing to financial models and forecasting
  • assessing current (as well as past) financial data and performance
  • preparing reports and developing projections based on financial data
  • analyzing financial performance trends and making recommendations
  • maintaining up-to-date knowledge about markets, taxation, regulation, policies and more

Day-to-day tasks that are frequently assigned to financial analysts include:

  • guiding cost-analysis processes
  • carefully comparing actual results with plans and forecasts
  • updating financial models and projections based on the latest data
  • reconciling transactions and comparing and correcting data
  • maintaining financial databases and entering, verifying and backing up information
  • evaluating financial documents, capital expenditures, depreciations and more
  • participating in ongoing budgeting and forecasting processes
  • coordinating financial document reviews with other members of the finance team

how do you become a financial analyst?

Technology is transforming industries and roles across the board, and the day-to-day work of your contemporary financial analyst is no exception. Understanding a spate of new tech tools, systems and platforms is crucial — and candidates who haven’t been exposed to them should invest in targeted upskilling through online learning platforms as soon as possible. Check out the top financial analysis courses on Udemy, our learning partner, if you need help getting started.

With all of that in mind, what are some of the key qualifications and requirements that will help you become a financial analyst?

  • a bachelor’s degree in accounting, finance, statistics, economics, business administration or a similar related field
  • master’s degrees (or even CPA credentialing) may be required for more advanced or senior roles

That might make it sound like there are high barriers to entry, but don’t be dismayed. In reality, the requirements for financial analyst roles can vary widely. Just bear in mind the following pro tip, which might help you out when you’re navigating job search sites: Whenever you peruse a job description, be sure to note the difference between skills that are “nice-to-have” (not essential) and those that are “must-haves” (essential) for the role. Not having the former won’t necessarily preclude you from landing an interview.

what are the key skills of a financial analyst?

Financial analysts can contribute enormous bottom-line value — and the areas where they excel are for that very reason highly prized on the market. A few key skills that are proving useful to financial analysts right now:

  • analytical and financial modeling skills
  • strategic thinking
  • presentation and communication skills
  • proficiency in Microsoft Excel, enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems and other technology platforms
  • time management and organizational aptitudes
  • expertise multitasking and meeting deadlines

what search terms will help me find roles as a financial analyst?

Struggling to find the right roles on job boards? Don’t sweat it, because we’ve got a few easy tips that can help. For example, try using a combination of the following search terms, along with “financial analyst” (or simply “analyst”), which should allow you to surface more relevant results:

  • financial services
  • sell side analyst
  • ratings analyst
  • financial planning

how much does a financial analyst make?

From a salary standpoint, financial analysts will find a lot of variation on the job market today. That said, looking at the latest data, average salaries for these finance wizards can be grouped into three tiers — low range, mid range and high range — depending on a lot of factors, including your location, market, responsibilities and relative level of expertise.

Those tiers are as follows:

  • low range $67,486-$80,927
  • mid range $76,921-$92,241
  • high range $87,422-$104,83

Be sure to head on over to our free salary comparison tool for a deeper dive into the latest salary data. You’ll get in-depth and at-a-glance data about pay rates for financial analyst roles across different locations and markets.

key takeaways

As we have discussed, financial analysts are highly in-demand professionals, the engines of business value at accounting and finance firms. They’re hands-on, high-energy performers — a fact that you can see reflected in their compensation levels, as well.

Simply to recap, in this article we highlighted:

  • what financial analysts do
  • background, training, experience and other requirements for this position
  • key skills
  • salary
  • and more!

So if you’re ready to land a great new role, start searching for financial analysts jobs today. Alternately, if you're considering a career change, be sure to check out these in-depth breakdowns of highly in-demand jobs in the accounting and finance space. You'll find actionable guidance on exactly what steps you need to take to make your next move today.