How to Become a Financial Analyst: Degree and Career

All of us know quite well that financial matters are among the most important matters in the contemporary world and the contemporary society. All of us who live in the contemporary civilized world get in touch with various financial issues and matters on daily basis. Therefore, the fact that finances matters to all of us is definitely an indisputable one.

The Importance of Financial Analysts

Moreover, if financial matters are so crucial in the contemporary world and society that we cannot simply bail out without them being one of the key parts of our everyday lives, we may easily conclude that someone has to take that fact into account and also to keep the count of various financial matters. And who could be a better person for that job than, oh you will easily guess – a financial analyst!

We apologize for such a long introduction, but financial analysts really are engaged in a highly important working occupation. Therefore, the aim of this article is to bring that occupation to light and explain what it entails.

We hope that this article will appear useful and interesting to both the ones who are simply interested in this working position as well as to the ones who might already have considered choosing it as their future working position.

What Does A Financial Analyst Do?

Whenever any kind of discussion regarding any working position starts, the first question that normally pops up is what a person engaged in that particular working position is supposed to do in order to reach the job requirements. Since this article is dedicated to the vocation of financial analysis, we will strive to provide the readers with the best description of this job and show what it entails.

Therefore, here is a short list of some of the basic duties of a financial analyst:

  • Determining operational costs – financial analysts are usually employed in huge (or less huge) corporations and business centers and in certain local businesses. Since business persons are engaged in developing their company and their work, financial analysts are the ones who keep the track of the costs made by the company. In order to do so, they must collect operational data and be up to date with all the actions taken by their company and its costs.
  • Identifying financial status – apart from keeping the track of the costs made by the company a particular financial analyst is employed at, that financial analyst has the responsibility of comparing the forecasts and the former plans of the company with the real status and to compare the goals set to the ones that have been reached. In other words, a financial analyst is supposed to do the reality check when it gets to the balance between the expectations and the reality of any business operation in their company.
  • Guiding cost analysis process – the analysis of the costs made by a certain company or corporation are a process since the development of a certain company is a durative process itself. Therefore, a financial analyst needs to establish and enforce various policies and procedures, to provide trends and forecasts and to explain processes, techniques and recommended actions in order to guide the cost analysis process successfully.
  • Maintaining database – in addition to the fact that financial analysis is not a temporary but a durative process, a financial analyst should make sure to maintain the databases that contain the pieces of information regarding the costs of their company, in order to make those pieces of information useful in their further work.
  • Protecting information – what would be the use of having financial information and cost analysis if they got into wrong hands? In order to avoid such mishaps, financial analysts must always strive to keep the information about the costs of their company highly confidential, in order for them not to be used by other companies.
  • Recommending actions – having analyzed the costs made and compared the forecasts with the real financial status and the actual achievements of the company at a certain time, a financial analyst is the one who recommends the strategies that will be more fruitful to the company’s future development and draws the attention of the company’s authorities to the sound investments.
  • Reconciling transactions – also a duty of a financial analyst, which is performed through comparing and correcting data.

If you are eager to get to know more about the duties of financial analysts, you may find the following link useful: http://hiring.monster.com/hr/hr-best-practices/recruiting-hiring-advice/job-descriptions/financial-analyst-job-description.aspx

A highly responsible vocation

It appears obvious from the list above that the duties of financial analysts towards the company they work at are quite numerous and versatile. Having that in mind, we will easily conclude that the working position of a financial analyst is a highly responsible one. Moreover, there are almost no business persons and no business facilities that can bail out and develop their business normally without consulting a financial analyst.

Therefore, this article will now get down to giving more pieces of information regarding this job position, such as the ones regarding their possible work environment as well as the type of education and training and the qualifications that need to be obtained by the one desiring to become a financial analyst.

Work Environment

When it comes to the working environment of financial analysts, it is a fact that the majority of their work can actually be completed via the Internet or on a personal computer or laptop. Since they need to use data that is nowadays, as we all know, almost completely digitalized, all financial analysts must resort to their computers when they make various comparisons of the costs and conceive more fruitful future strategies. They need to use many tables, graphics and diagrams, which are most easy to be made in various computer programs. However, almost every company tends to hire a responsible and, more importantly, a reliable individual on a long term. Therefore, financial analysts do not have so many opportunities to work from home as freelancers.

In order to give the readers a better image of the working environment of financial analysts, here is the list of the possible work places for them:

  • An office at a company/corporation
  • A bank
  • Buy-side firms
  • Sell-side firms
  • Healthcare facility
  • Private entrepreneurship company
  • Participating in public conference calls

Having discussed the most likely work places of a financial analyst let us get down to what skills and education are required in order to become one.

How to Become a Financial Analyst?

It has already been stated in this article that being a financial analyst requires much effort and many skills, since it is a working occupation that brings various responsibilities.

In order to reach the job requirements, one who desires to become a financial analyst needs to obtain proper education and to have various skills. Here is a list of those skills and qualifications:

  • Corporate Finance
  • Developing Standards
  • Quality Management
  • Problem Solving
  • Process Improvement
  • Cost Accounting
  • Statistical Skills
  • Financial Planning and Strategy
  • Reporting Research Results
  • Requirements Analysis
  • Financial Skills

If some of you have skimmed through the whole list and concluded that you do obtain a great amount of the skills mentioned, you may decide to brush them up by enrolling in a university program dedicated to financial analysis and accounting. Who knows – maybe financial analysis is your future vocation? In order to give you the best advice on the topic of education, this article will cover that topic further on.

Education and Training for Financial Analysts

Almost all the vocations we may think of require proper education and training from anyone who would like to be engaged in them. There are various ways to obtain education and training nowadays since a broad range of courses in various fields is available online. Even some universities offer to their students a possibility to study online and not to be obliged to study on campus.

In order to inform the readers interested in the type of education required from a future financial analyst, we will bring up some formal and non-formal educational programs.

Formal Education

If you are more into formal education than enrolling in online courses, we have got something just for you. Here is the list of the best schools and universities in the United States that offer the best educational programs in the field of financial analysis:

  • The University of Pennsylvania, a private university with a not-for-profit program that lasts for four years
  • New Your University, also a private university with a not-for-profit program that also lasts for four years
  • The University of Michigan – Ann Arbor, a public university with a program that lasts for four years
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology, a private university offering a not-for-profit program, which lasts for four years
  • The University of California – Berkley, a public university that offers a program that lasts for four years
  • The University of Texas – Austin, also a public university with a four-year program
  • The University of Virginia, also a public university with a four-year program
  • Carnegie Mellon University, a private university offering a program in financial analysis that lasts for four years
  • The University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill, one more public university with a four-year program
  • Indiana University – Bloomington, last but not the least, Indiana University is one of the public universities that offer a four-year lasting program in financial analysis

Just to remind you – this is a list of the universities that offer the best programs in financial analysis. Since both public and private ones were listed, almost anyone interested in financial analysis programs may find a suitable one. All of the programs last for four years and enable a student to get a Bachelor’s Degree.

Further Formal Education

If one is not satisfied with a Bachelor’s Degree and aims for more in the field of financial analysis, one may get further education by applying for a master’s program or a PhD program at a university from the following list:

  • Kaplan University
  • Ashford University
  • Cappella University

Certification and Degree

Here are the formal degrees that may be obtained in financial analysis:

  • Bachelor’s Degree
  • Master’s Degree
  • PhD in Financial Analysis

Salary

Financial analysts struggle with comparing incomes and costs and providing better strategies when it comes to money matters. But, how much do they earn? According to the results of the research conducted by the organization named Pay Scale, an average annual salary of a financial analyst reaches the amount of $58,022. In addition to that, when it comes to the job outlook, the results of the investigation show that the majority of the financial analysts have less than ten years of experience.

Job Outlook

We may agree on the fact that the working position of a financial analyst is ubiquitous and inevitable whatever business facility might be at stake. Therefore, there are various opportunities for employment for them and there are various types of firms to work at.

Most analysts in the investment industry choose to work for either buy-side or sell-side firms. Thus, we will explain each of those positions more thoroughly.

  • Buy-side firms – while working in this type of firms, financial analysts research stocks for an in-house fund. These are the investment houses that manage their own funds and track the stocks in their funds’ portfolio to determine whether they should sell some of the stocks.
  • Sell-side firms write research reports for buy-side firms. Financial analysts employed in such firms compare the quality and the security given in a sector or an industry.

In addition to the specialties mentioned, there are subspecialties. For example, some financial analysts specialize in equities, whereas some are engaged in analyzing fixed-income instruments. Moreover, there are analysts who work in investment banking firms.

Similar Occupations

It is obvious that the vocation of a financial analyst, who deals with money and cost matters, is tightly bonded with some other occupations that also refer to money and finances. What are those occupations? Here is a short list:

  • Accounting Analyst
  • Financial Service Worker
  • Quantitative Analyst
  • Research Reporter

In addition to the occupations listed, financial analysts do have something in common with healthcare managers, since their responsibility is to track the costs of a healthcare facility they work at.