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Salary Range: $80,000 or more
Average Hourly: $40.22
Education: Bachelor's degree
Number of Jobs: 492,100
Jobs Added to 2029: 31,300
Growth: As fast as average
Go here to see salary and job data specific to the United Kingdom.
What Financial Analysts Do
Financial analysts typically do the following:
- Recommend individual investments and collections of investments, 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 opportunities to commit money for the purpose of generating profit.
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, nonprofit organizations with large endowments, private equity firms, and pension funds.
- Sell-side analysts advise financial services sales agents who sell stocks, bonds, and other investments.
Analysts may 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 geographical region, industry, or type of product. For example, they may focus on a subject area or a foreign exchange market. They must understand how economic trends, new regulations, policies, and political situations may affect investments.
Investing has become more global, and some specialize in a particular country or world region. Companies want these specialists to understand the business environment, culture, language, and political conditions in the country or region that they cover.
The following are examples of types of financial analysts:
Financial risk specialists, also called financial risk analysts, evaluate threats to investment decisions and determine how to manage unpredictability and limit potential losses. They make investment decisions such as selecting dissimilar stocks or having a combination of stocks, bonds, and mutual funds in a portfolio. They also make recommendations to limit risk.
Fund managers work exclusively with hedge funds or mutual funds. Both fund managers and portfolio managers frequently make buy or sell decisions in reaction to quickly changing market conditions.
Investment analysts assess information involving investment programs or financial data of institutions, such as business valuation. They also respond to queries from clients and client advisors regarding asset allocation and alternative investment topics including hedge funds, real property, and venture capital.
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.
Ratings analysts evaluate the ability of companies or governments to pay their debts, including bonds. Based on these evaluations, a management team rates the risk of a company or government not being able to repay its bonds.
Securities analysts evaluate securities markets and trends to identify high-yield assets for clients and companies. They may use resources such as bond performance reports, daily stock quotes, market and economic forecasts, and other financial statements and publications.
|Securities, commodity contracts, and other financial investments and related activities||18%|
|Credit intermediation and related activities||14|
|Professional, scientific, and technical services||11|
|Management of companies and enterprises||11|
|Insurance carriers and related activities||7|
Financial analysts work primarily in offices but may travel to visit companies or clients.
Most financial analysts work full time and some work more than 40 hours per week.
Employment of financial analysts is projected to grow 6 percent from 2020 to 2030, about as fast as the average for all occupations.
About 41,000 openings for financial analysts are projected each year, on average, over the decade. Many of those openings are expected to result from the need to replace workers who transfer to different occupations or exit the labor force, such as to retire.
How to Become a Financial Analyst
Most entry-level positions for financial analysts require a bachelor’s degree. Appropriate fields of study include accounting, business, economics, finance, mathematics, and statistics. Some employers prefer to hire applicants who have a master’s degree.
Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations
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 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 may 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 and several years of work experience and pass multiple exams. They also may choose to become certified in their field of specialty.
Financial analysts typically start by specializing in an investment field. As they gain experience, they may become portfolio managers and select the mix of investments for a company’s portfolio. They also may become fund managers of large investment portfolios for individual investors. Having a master’s degree in finance or business administration may improve an analyst’s chances of advancing to one of these positions.
Analytical skills. Financial analysts must evaluate a range of information in finding profitable investments.
Communication skills. Financial analysts must be able to clearly explain their recommendations to clients.
Computer skills. Financial analysts must be adept at using software to analyze financial data and trends, create portfolios, and make forecasts.
Decision-making skills. Financial analysts must reach conclusions so that they can recommend whether to buy, hold, or sell a security.
Detail oriented. Financial analysts must pay attention when reviewing a possible investment, as even small issues may have large implications for its health.
Math skills. Financial analysts use mathematics to estimate the value of financial securities.