Thanks to recent growth in the financial and corporate sector, financial analysts are in high demand. In the US, the demand for financial analysts is expected to grow by 6% between 2020 and 2030, with 41,000 vacancies for these professionals projected annually.
But what does a financial analyst do exactly? In short, these professionals manage financial planning, expenditure and revenue, and other aspects of financial analysis. They develop budgets for projects, suggest ways to minimise expenditure and develop strategies to maximise revenue.
If you have a talent for numbers and a passion for financial strategy, this could be the perfect career path for you. We’ll cover how you can follow this path, but let’s start by taking a closer look at what is involved in this type of role.
What Does a Financial Analyst Do?
The job description of a financial analyst can vary depending on the company, your experience, your qualifications, and the specific role.
Here’s what a typical financial analyst role involves:
- Analysing the business’ financial history to make accurate predictions
- Preparing financial reports
- Identifying strong investment opportunities
- Analyzing the market’s current financial trends
- Offering financial forecasting
- Working with purchasing, sales, and other departments to review the company’s financial performance
As a financial analyst, you might work for a bank, insurance company, government regulatory agency, investment company, or financial planning organisation.
The role of an analyst goes beyond investment decisions. Depending on the company and its objectives, an employer might look for a financial analyst capable of executing all kinds of financial activities, including accounting, bookkeeping, data entry, banking, business management, and managing cash flow.
Financial analyst roles often involve an international focus and may require a lot of travelling, especially when working for multinational companies. These roles are also well-paid, with the average annual salary of a financial analyst in the UK being somewhere between £54,000 and £78,750.
The Pathway to Becoming a Financial Analyst
If you’re interested in strategic planning, business management, decision making, investment, and financial management, you’ll likely find a career as a financial analyst very rewarding. If you think this is the perfect career for you, here are the steps you should follow.
1. Get Your Bachelor’s Degree
To become a financial analyst, you’ll first need a bachelor’s degree if you don’t have one already. If you’re still deciding which bachelor’s degree to enrol in and you know you want to become a financial analyst, go for an undergraduate qualification in finance.
However, you don’t necessarily need a bachelor’s in this specific discipline. In most cases, you can pursue further studies in the field and build a successful career as a financial analyst regardless of the focus of your undergraduate degree.
Check out EDHEC Online Bachelor of Science in Digital Marketing & Innovation or Management & Commerce.
2. Get Experience
You can learn a lot through study, but nothing beats hands-on experience. If you want to become a successful financial analyst, you first need to build up work experience and this, of course, takes time. Gaining relevant work experience is also important if you want to get certified or pursue a master’s qualification.
3. Build your Skillset
There are certain skills that can be helpful in building a successful career as a financial analyst. As you progress professionally, make an effort to build your skillset. The most advantageous skills will depend on the specific roles you want to pursue, so consider your career goals when choosing which skills you want to focus on.
Here are some of the skills that are important for financial analysts:
- Strategic and analytic thinking
- Financial analysis and modelling
- Decision making
- Time management
- Research skills
- Attention to detail
- Interpersonal skills
4. Get Certified (Optional)
It’s not essential to get certified in order to work as a financial analyst, but certification can be extremely helpful to advance your career. If you want to move up the career ladder, you’ll find that many companies will ask for a CFA charter.
A Charted Financial Analyst (CFA) is a high-level certification that involves passing three sets of challenging examinations. To qualify, you’ll also need at least four years of relevant work experience.
5. Pursue a Master’s Program
You don’t necessarily need a master’s in order to work as a financial analyst. However, if you want to pursue higher-level roles in the sector, an appropriate master’s can be helpful and, in some cases, essential. Especially in a highly competitive job market, a postgraduate qualification will set you apart from other candidates. For senior management positions, employers often see a master’s qualification as an essential prerequisite.
A Master’s in Corporate Finance can be very advantageous, or you may opt for an MBA (Master of Business Administration). As part of a master’s program in finance, you will study subjects like managerial accounting, private equity, risk management, etc. This can also be a great way to move into the field if you have a professional background in another sector.