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How To Become a Financial Analyst

Would you like to know how to become a financial analyst? The information below is meant to guide you through the education and licensing necessary to become a financial analyst. As a financial analyst, you'll likely work in a bank, credit union, investment firm, or insurance company performing research and analysis to help companies maximize profits while reducing risk.

Financial Analyst Roadmap

Types of Financial Analysts

Financial Analyst Job Description

Financial analysts research current market trends, and use various models to predict the opportune moments for investing, or selling investments, in order to maximize profits and minimize risk for a company. Economic models might include:

  • Generic Model
  • Macroeconomic Financial Models
  • Global Assumption Model
  • Exchange Rate Model
  • Industry Financial Models
  • Corporate Financial Models
  • Deterministic Financial Models
  • Simulation Based Financial Models
  • Financial model without shares
  • Financial model with shares
  • Specialized Financial Models

 

As a financial analyst you'll engage in a number of research related tasks. You'll read financial statements while analyzing market trends including sales, costs, expenses, and tax rates. From this analysis, you'll generate reports that show projected earnings, opportunities for growth, or ways to reduce losses. As a financial analyst, you'll play a key role in determining a company's current value and projecting its future earnings. And you may also be responsible for overseeing compliance with Securities and Exchange Commission regulations.

Education Requirements

As a financial analyst, plan to take a lot of business classes, especially economics and accounting. Be prepared for higher level math classes as well. Popular majors for financial analysts are computer science, math, business, accounting, and engineering. With a bachelors degree in one of these fields, you may expect to be hired on as a junior analyst. Most financial analysts will go on and get there MBA, which positions them for a job as a senior analyst.

Registration with the SEC

As an investment analyst, you may be required to register with either the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) or the state securities agency where you have your principle place of business. In most cases, the firm or brokerage where you go to work will guide you through the process of becoming certified and/or registered. Generally, if you manage $100 million or more in client assets, you'll register with the SEC, otherwise you'll register with your state securities agency.

Financial Analyst Certification

The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) is the largest independent regulator for all securities firms doing business in the United States. FINRA provides qualification examinations for brokerage firms, financial branch offices, and registered securities representatives. The most common FINRA qualifications are Series 7 General Securities Representative Qualification, Series 63 Uniform Securities Agent State Law Examination, and Series 65 & 66 Uniform Investment Adviser Law and State Law Examinations. Most positions as a financial analyst require you to have these qualifications, in addition to education and experience requirements.

To strengthen your career as a financial analyst, you may want to take the Series 7, Series 63, and Series 65 & 66 FINRA exams. In order to do so, you must meet certain education and experience requirements, as well as receive sponsorship from an FINRA member firm or a self-regulatory organization. Usually, your employer will walk you through this process.

Another program to consider is the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) designation. The CFA is globally recognized by employers, investment professionals, and investors. In order to take the course and sit for the CFA exam, you must have bachelor's degree. The course offers a wide financial curriculum on economics, financial reporting and analysis, corporate finance, equity investment, fixed income, derivatives, alternative investments, portfolio management and wealth planning.

Experience Requirements

Junior financial analysts usually require 2 years or less experience, while senior financial analysts require 3-5 years financial planning and analysis experience.

Additional Skills Needed

As a financial analyst, you'll be called upon to use a variety of skills in the course of your work. In addition to your financial and research skills, technology plays a vital role in your job. You'll use programs like Microsoft Office to create spreadsheets, as well as other statistical software to analyze financial data, spot trends, and develop forecasts.

Non tangible skills include:

  • analytical & decision making
  • teamwork and collaboration
  • communication
  • influence
  • flexibility
  • ability to achieve results
  • ability to take the initiative

 

Financial Analyst Organizations

The most prominent organizations for financial analysts is CFA Institute who offers a graduate-level curriculum that provides a strong foundation of the real-world investment analysis, portfolio management skills, and practical knowledge needed to succeed as a financial analyst.

Financial Analyst Jobs

U.S. News wrote a great article listing financial analyst careers being one of the top 50 careers in 2011. There are a variety of places to find financial analyst jobs. There include:

Financial Analyst Salary

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook, median annual wages, excluding bonuses, of financial analysts were $73,150 in May 2008. The middle 50 percent of financial analysts earned between $54,930 and $99,100. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $43,440, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $141,070.


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