A financial analyst is a business professional responsible for analyzing trends in the market, creating financial models, making recommendations, and advising financial decisions for companies. It’s a lucrative and interesting career, and financial analysts can expect to make around $85,000 per year, but that number is going to look very different depending on the route an individual financial analyst takes.
Today we’re sharing everything you need to know about financial analyst jobs, financial analyst salary, and how to become a financial analyst.
What Do Financial Analysts Do?
A financial analyst uses a mathematical, methodical brain to carefully study the market and draw conclusions about business decisions. Financial analysts will need to watch for trends and to make predictions to best meet the business needs of their clients. A financial analyst is essentially the computer of an organization, using high-powered analytical skills to advise their client in whatever way is needed.
A financial analyst job description may include:
- Gathering detailed financial information relevant to the company/client
- Researching market and industry trends
- Writing reports
- Investigating the success of various business plans
- Generating financial models and predictions
- Managing investments, equity, and risk
- Presenting of findings
- Coordinating with other departments & companies
What to Expect From Financial Analyst Jobs
Financial Analyst jobs are known for demanding a lot from those who pursue them. According to the Princeton Review, financial analyst jobs are incredibly strenuous but there isn’t much burnout because those attracted to financial analysis generally understand the following expectations:
Time: Entry-level financial analyst jobs will often require 50+ hours a week, with very little flexibility due to the pressing needs of business deals and decision deadlines. For example, a board may request a certain financial report or model for a board meeting and the financial analyst will be responsible for doing the research and generating a report for the meeting, regardless of how much time it may take them.
Responsibility: A financial analyst is a highly respected position, and their research and recommendations can have a dramatic impact on the company. This can translate to performance-based compensation and high levels of stress.
On-the-Job Training: The analysis needs of every job will be different. You may work with a consulting firm and rotate through a variety of clients or you may provide in-house financial analysis for a small business. Most companies will train their financial analysts once hired so they can learn the unique needs of the position.
Steep Curve: Entry-level financial analyst jobs are extremely competitive and can start at low salaries. However, within 3-5 years a financial analyst can be classified as “senior” and enjoy higher salaries, more flexibility, and greater options for jobs and consulting.
The day-to-day of a financial analyst can vary widely, but you can see some examples at Investopedia.
Financial Analyst Salary
Financial analyst salaries traditionally start with relatively low, entry-level base pay. Because the success of the client or company is often directly tied to the performance of a financial analyst, it’s very common for this base pay to be supplemented with bonuses or profit-sharing that is contingent on financial growth.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median financial analyst salary is around $85,000, but this number can be misleading because the average financial analyst salary is closer to $100,000 due to the extreme growth in earnings over time. Experience and bonus structure heavily influence this number, as well as the type of financial analyst job.
|Entry Level Financial Analyst||$55,000|
|General Financial Analyst (1-3 years experience)||$70,000-85,000|
|Senior Financial Analyst (3-5+ years experience)||$90,000-120,000|
|Investment Banking Financial Analyst||$100,000-140,000|
|Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA)||$120,000-200,000|
TRY THIS: Use this tool to adjust location and experience level to see what financial analysts may be making in your area.
How to Become a Financial Analyst
It may surprise you to learn that a financial analyst doesn’t actually require any specific degree or certification—nearly any Bachelors degree can find success as a financial analyst so long as they are numbers-savvy.
As stated above, a financial analyst will get a lot of on-the-job training so a variety of degrees are acceptable, although finance, accounting, economics, statistics, math, or business would be preferred. An advanced degree such as an MBA can make for a much more desirable candidate. Many consulting and finance firms offer summer internships for college students who are interested in finance—which can be an excellent way to dip a toe into a financial analysis job.
Chartered Financial Analyst
One option on the path of financial analyst is to get certified as a chartered financial analyst. A Chartered Financial Analyst goes deep into the field of investment management through an intense training and certification process. The Accounting Institute for Success reports that Chartered Financial Analysts usually make up less than 5% of any financial organization, so you can greatly increase your job prospects and earning potential.
Most entry-level financial analysts will work closely with a mentor within their organization. Even if you work as an in-house financial analyst, you’ll likely work under a VP of Finance or CFO. It’s important to dedicate a lot of time to immersing yourself in the industry and learning everything you can, especially in your early years.
Financial Analysts enjoy a huge curve for advancement and career choices. According to U.S. News Money, financial analysts have very high job satisfaction and upward mobility. As they increase in experience, financial analysts are able to move into their own consulting for maximum earnings, or even to accept management roles such as VP of Finance or Chief Financial Officer.
The role of a financial analyst is an important one that can make or break an organization. A good financial analyst can help your business get ahead of the curve, making important moves that maximize investments and revenue. It’s a lucrative career path that needs careful preparation, but yields immense results.
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