Companies exist to make money, but knowing how to best invest it can be a complicated affair. Financial analysts make it their business to know the finance industry inside and out, in order to better weigh the merits and risks of various investment products to help companies and individuals make better investment decisions. It is a field that requires a great deal of expertise, but your time invested can pay off both in terms of earnings and job prospects.
Financial analysts help businesses and individuals decide how to invest their money based on the performance of a variety of financial instruments. Here are a few of the specific tasks that a financial analyst might be called upon to perform:
- Constructing portfolios or recommending individual investments
- Consulting with investors to provide insight into investment recommendations
- Studying past and current trends in business and the economy
- Analyzing a company's financial statements to determine its overall value
- Meeting with enterprise managers to better understand organizational direction
Important qualities for financial analysts include excellent analytical, communication and decision-making skills, strong mathematical ability and a good mind for details.
Financial analyst salary and career outlook
For an idea of how much financial analysts might expect to make in the coming years, as well as the job growth projections for the career, take a look at the table below:
|Career||Total Employment||Annual Mean Wage|
|Financial and Investment Analysts, Financial Risk Specialists, and Financial Specialists, All Other||458,510||$94,160|
How to become a financial analyst
Entry-level positions in the field typically call for a bachelor's degree in finance, accounting, business administration, economics or a similar discipline. Some employers openly prefer candidates with graduate degrees, particularly for positions with elevated levels of complexity or responsibility; in these cases, a master's in business administration, economics or finance is usually the right degree for the job.
Certain financial analyst positions may also require candidates be licensed. The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) is the primary licensing organization for financial analysts, although most of the licenses require sponsorship by an employer and are unlikely to be required in the application process. Professional credentials, such as the Certified Financial Analyst (CFA) certificate offered by the CFA Institute, can also help aspiring financial professionals in the job search.
Occupational Trends by State, Financial Analysts, CareerOneStop,
Cost of Living Data Series: Third Quarter 2014, Missouri Economic Research and Information Center, Missouri Department of Economic Development,
Occupational Employment and Wages: Financial Analysts, Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, April 1, 2014,
Financial Analysts, "Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition," Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Jan. 8, 2014,