How to Become a Financial Analyst
If you hope to become a financial analyst, you must be a natural strategist and visionary. A financial analyst is someone who gathers money-related data for anything from a product to an entire industry depending on their role. They then use that data to assess the risk of a financial decision. As you can imagine, financial analysts are integral to forging the path for a particular company, product, or market. If you’re hoping to pursue a career as a financial analyst, consider these facets of the industry.
Roles in the Market
If you are wondering whether you’d like to become a financial analyst, try browsing the different markets analysts participate in. The sectors are incredibly diverse and exist under two umbrellas — Aerospace and Defense, or Accounting and Auditing and include the following industries: banking, biotechnology, business services, computer software, construction, consumer packaged goods, education, electronics, energy and utilities, engineering services, and financial services. If you are looking for a job with a lot of opportunity and variety, this may be the right path for you.
To become a financial analyst, you must first get a bachelor’s degree. The degree can be in a variety of fields including accounting, finance, statistics, mathematics, and engineering. As you can see, there is not necessarily one way of getting into the field, but these majors do have a few things in common. The ideal person in this case is math-minded, a logistician, and good at understanding strategic patterns. If this is a natural skill you have, you are well on your way to becoming a good financial analyst. To accompany a bachelor’s, most people also proceed to obtain a master’s. As the market grows more and more competitive, it is becoming almost necessary for you to get a master’s in order to be considered for a position. Most people will proceed to obtain their MBA, as further education and certification can mean higher earnings potential.
If you want to be a great financial analyst, there are some essential skills you need to master, including analytical skills, as well as clear communication abilities. Someone would also need to be competent in computers, math, and decision-making skills in order to be competitive in the market. This is a field where foresight is key, meaning you’ll need to be able to understand how small details play into the larger picture. If these are skills that you have or that you hope to refine, then you are well on your way.
In order to practice as a financial analyst, you must obtain licensure by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) or certification as a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA). In order to receive a CFA, one must pass a series of three exams, Levels I, II, and III. The latter two tests are only offered once annually on the first Saturday in June. However, the Level I exam is also offered in December. Another requirement is to pass the exams sequentially, meaning that they must be taken in order. On average, prospects spend about three-hundred-and-twenty-two hours preparing. There are various study resources, but it is in your best interest to take CFA prep courses so that you may be adequately prepared by people who know how the test works.
Additional licenses may be required depending on where you are hoping to gain employment.
Get the Job
Entry level positions for financial analysts are highly competitive and many employers will require two years of experience in the field. Because of this, many begin as accountants and eventually move over to finance after enough hands-on practice is acquired. The best way to get into the industry is to start at the bottom of the ladder in the company you want to work for and climb the ladder with the knowledge and experience you gain. Check out financial analyst job openings at Jobsmenow.com and find a position to catapult your career.
Originally published at The Daily MBA.