The job of a financial analyst in a large organization is extremely complex. It's also critically important: the performance of our savings, investment and pension plans depend on their acumen. Financial analysts guide large organizations and institutions on how and where to invest their money. They could work for a powerful Wall Street bank or a finance management consultancy. The scope of the financial analyst's job can stretch across the globe or international regions. At the most senior level they are very powerful people.
The Financial Analyst's Skill Set
A successful financial analyst employed by a large organization must have an appetite for hard work and long office hours. As an undergraduate, potential employers expect you to keep up to date with financial market news while doing your demanding college work. When working as a financial analyst, your employer will expect you to study for professional exams. According to J.P Morgan, a leading financial services firm, the organization seeks candidates with "excellent analytical, quantitative, and problem solving skills" and "demonstrated leadership, interpersonal and relationship management skills".
Financial analysts, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, or BLS, will advise on investment strategies for large organizations like pension funds. An analyst might also be a portfolio manager in a large financial institution -- managing a team of analysts and making decisions about what investments would be included in the portfolio. You could also be tasked with giving advice to brokers in a big brokerage firm that is selling financial products to investors. Another primary task might be giving advice to ratings agencies that assess the creditworthiness of corporations and even countries. In such a volatile business with so much at stake, you could also find a role in risk management, designing financial instruments that minimize market risk.
Your secondary responsibilities are varied. Your duties could include end of month tasks such as journal updates and completing financial reports for senior management. You might also be expected to ensure corporate-wide compliance with company finance, accounting and business policies. At a large consultancy firm, you could be employed to give advice to clients and review their risk management operations. Additionally, you might also provide research and give long term market projections. Other responsibilities include giving expert financial advice for large media networks.
Qualifications and Professional Accreditation
For such a tough and competitive profession, the qualifications required are pretty stringent. Successful candidates for a role in financial analysis would need a BA in one of four disciplines: economics, business administration, finance or accounting. For the roles with large corporations, employers might expect an MA or MBA in finance or business. The BLS suggests another hurdle to be cleared by candidates: they must show a certain level of knowledge in the field they’re trying to enter, whether it’s options pricing, bond valuation or risk management. The BLS also reports many roles in the financial analyst sector require licensing from the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, Inc. (FINRA). However, many required licenses are sponsored by the employer so you may not be expected to be licensed before taking the role.
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