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How to Become a Financial Analyst

by | May 24, 2021 | Accounting, Student Life

The most lucrative role in the financial service industry is the analyst. Financial analysts work to identify and understand data to find opportunities for business decisions and investments. 

How to Prepare in College

Man sitting with his leg crossed, looking at a tablet with financial data on it.
Photo by Adeolu Eletu on Unsplash

In order to become a financial analyst or any role in business, it requires careful consideration and planning. Right when you enter college, consider what major would fit your future financial analyst career path.

Major

Most people in finance get a general bachelor’s degree in business administration and choose the major of finance. Although, other majors and degrees can find success in finance because of transferrable skills between the industries. 

Those majors are computer science, information technology, applied mathematics, statistics, economics, engineering, biology, and general business majors. 

Most entry-level financial analyst positions will require a bachelor’s degree, but some like accounting can require or greatly benefit from a master’s degree. Some companies will allow for employees to get a master’s degree with their sponsorship. Generally, having a master’s degree in the finance industry can have a positive impact and allow for growth. 

Internship Experience

Because the finance industry is competitive, it is important to have internships to stand out from others. Internships allow finance students to gain relevant work experience and preparation for entry-level roles. That internship experience on your resume will allow many more entry-level roles to consider you. In a finance internship, focus on getting valuable recommendations, professional feedback, and apply what you have learned in the classroom.

The best finance internships are at Goldman Sachs, J.P. Morgan, Morgan Stanley, Northwestern Mutual, Bank of America, Baker Tilly, PwC, and Staples. 

Skills to Perfect

  • Detail-oriented
  • Organization, especially with numbers, information, and financial data for financial analysis.
  • Analytical skills
  • Communication skills, especially with presenting and influencing financial decisions.
  • Self-motivated
  • Data analyzation
  • Problem-solving and decision making
  • Mathematical skills
  • Accounting knowledge
  • Financial literacy
  • Business intelligence
  • Understanding of economic trends and financial models.
  • Creating investment portfolios by using investment strategies. 
  • Software skills (SQL, Python, Tableau, QuickBooks, SAP, Hyperion).
  • Ease with common technology tools such as Microsoft Excel, Powerpoint, and Google Sheets.
  • Leadership skills are great to have if you have an interest in growth for a manager role.

In the interview process, financial analysts are asked to take a skills test for technical analytics. To practice those skills and the tests that are given, Modern Analyst has created a great resource

Job Outlook for Financial Analysts

Financial analysis data on a computer screen.
Photo by Markus Winkler on Unsplash

Overall, the financial services industry is highly competitive. But, there is a great job outlook. From 2019 to 2029 there is an expected 5% increase.

Financial Analyst Salary

The 2020 Median pay according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) is $83,660 or $40.22 per hour. The highest paying roles in financial analysis are securities, commodities contracts, and professional services. 

What are Entry-Level Financial Analyst Jobs

A man sitting and reading the Business news paper.
Photo by Adeolu Eletu on Unsplash

In those entry-level financial analyst roles, the job consists mostly of financial data gathering, spreadsheet maintenance, and financial modeling. A financial analyst will either work for the buy-side or the sell-side. The job titles vary but the core skills gained from a finance degree will remain similar.  

1. Financial Analyst

Financial analysts gather and assess financial statements such as budgets and income statements. They work to protect and increase the financial position of a company. It is done by analyzing budgets and profit statements to create studies, projections, and models. 

2. Budget Analyst

Budget analysts closely examine the companies budget. They do this by looking into ventures, investment decisions, and opportunities. Then, they assess them and see what is working and what can be improved upon. This role requires a high level of communication skills to present these. 

3. Investment Banking Analyst

Investment banking analysts are what most people think of when they think of finance positions. These are the people working on Wall Street. But to work your way up, start with an entry-level position. In those positions, they work on brokering trades, restructuring companies, forecasting industry conditions, and analyze company performances. Investment banking analysts work for hedge funds, investment banks, and venture capital agencies. 

4. Personal Financial Advisor

A personal financial advisor works with individuals on their investments, financial goals, and planning short-term and long-term. They do this by giving tax advice, creating wills, selling insurance, and conducting trades. For this role, you would need a Certified Financial Advisor (CFA) license to operate. 

5. Tax Accountant

Tax accountants work as junior accountants and work their way up in the accounting industry. This role involves conducting research, analyzing financial records, and organizing tax information. They understand tax laws, IRS regulations, and state and local laws. This role requires a Certified Public Accounting (CPA) license and sometimes a master’s degree as well. 

6. Business Administration

A business administration role blends the finance elements with general office management. Someone who works in business administration works on having a business run smoothly with human resources and office management. But, they also do finance work such as tracking spreadsheets, educating clients and organizing important company data. 

To learn the difference between working in these roles at large or small finance companies, listen here for more information! 

Scholars has information straight from these source from competitive firms such as PwC, Northwestern Mutual, and KPMG. This information can be found on The Internship Show. But, also browse through the blog to find great information on how to apply for finance internships, prepare for finance interviews, and more!

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Want early access to insights, content, and news about your dream employer? Join our community! We send one email per week so we won't clutter your inbox.

Congrats! You've taken the step to gain early access to information about your dream employers.

The Report Card: January 2021

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