A financial analyst is someone who analyzes market conditions so that a business can make financially sound and informed decisions regarding its future. In today’s economy, a career as a financial analyst can be a brilliant and rewarding choice. Though a moderately competitive field, you should have no problem securing a good job and advancing in your career if you are willing to put in all of the necessary work to get there.
Omar Ascha is an emerging analytic powerhouse in the field of finance with experience in mergers and acquisitions, capital raising and strategic advisory. Below, Mr. Ascha explains in detail the inner workings of financial analysis and the road one must travel to achieve such a revered title.
To become a financial analyst, you will first need to get an undergraduate degree in one of many possible fields. This includes areas such as accounting, business, marketing, statistics, economics, math, and sometimes even engineering or physics. Most employers will not require you to have received any graduate degrees. However, earning an MBA may help to increase your chances of having your first job be as a senior analyst rather than a junior analyst, and with that a higher salary straight out of school.
A degree is not all that you need to become a financial analyst. You must also earn a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) certification before you begin practicing. The CFA certification will require you to pass three exams and can take as little as two to as long as five years, depending on how much time you can devote to it. You can get a jump start and begin the process in the final year of your undergraduate degree.
Once you start working as a financial analyst, you may also need to get a license from the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, but only if you are going to be selling stocks and bonds. If your employer requires you to provide such services, then they will have to sponsor your license.
Speaking of employers, financial analysts typically find employment in three main types of financial institutions: working for buy-side firms, sell-side firms, or investment banking firms.
Analysts at buy-side firms will manage the in-house fund, meaning that they will track the stocks which are in the fund or do research on prospective stocks which they feel should be added. When they do their research, a financial analyst at a buy-side firm will likely be looking at reports put together by an analyst at a sell-side firm, which will be trying to get the highest price for their stocks.
An analyst working in an investment banking firm won’t be involved in the buy and sell aspects of the market so much, but will instead be responsible for analyzing and researching investments and deals between corporations and governments.
Though financial analysts in these three institutions may have different job descriptions, their daily tasks are, for the most part, going to be reasonably similar. All analysts are responsible for communicating their research and resulting suggestions to senior management. This may involve writing reports, putting together spreadsheets, and giving presentations.
If you’ve got a knack for numbers and like the idea of being directly involved in how businesses and firms choose to go forward, then a career as a financial analyst may be right for you.
About Omar Ascha