Senior Financial Analyst Careers

by Charles Crawford

Senior financial analysts advise corporate employers or outside clients in making financial or investment decisions. Some analysts work for corporations and focus on budgeting, forecasting and modeling. Others evaluate financial reports and economic data and make recommendations for investment decisions. Senior financial analysts might go on to become financial advisers, fund managers or senior corporate finance executives.

What They Do

Senior financial analysts evaluate investment opportunities. They are adept at interpreting financial data, spreadsheets, economic reports, statistics and investment reports. A typical assignment for an analyst employed by a company would be to study its financial statements and then meet with management to ask questions and gain more insights. Senior analysts who work with outside clients make recommendations about individual investments. Successful analysts understand how industry regulations, government policies and political and economic trends can affect investments.

How to Qualify

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics and numerous recruiting firms, financial analysts should have a bachelor's degree in finance, accounting, business administration, economics or statistics. Depending on the employer, candidates for senior analyst positions should have three to five years of relevant experience. Many employers prefer candidates with MBAs or master's degrees in finance. Once hired, analysts will need to study for and obtain securities industry licenses. Analysts who become certified financial analysts will probably improve their prospects for advancement into senior positions. Financial analysts are expected to have good communication skills and be experts with spreadsheet and other software programs.

Where They Work

Most financial analysts work for banks, pension funds, mutual funds, securities firms and insurance companies, though they can also find opportunities in other industries. They might become budget specialists, corporate portfolio managers, personal financial advisers or fund managers for individual investors. Duties for such positions include planning, forecasting, financial modeling and profitability analysis. The BLS lists the median annual wage for financial analysts as $74,350 as of 2010. The top 10 percent of earners, where many senior analysts might wind up, made more than $141,700 a year. Financial analysts are known for working more than 40 hours per week. Nearly one-third of full-time financial analysts work 50 to 70 hours per week.

A Bright Future

The BLS expects employment for financial analysts to grow by 23 percent from 2010 to 2020 -- faster than the average for all occupations. This high growth rate doesn't mean easy job searching. Competition can be intense for high-paying financial analyst jobs. Having strong academic credentials as well as certifications and licenses can enhance your job prospects.

About the Author

Charles Crawford, a former commercial banker, has been a business writer in New York since 1990. He has produced marketing materials for an executive outplacement firm, written the quarterly newsletter of a medical nonprofit organization and created financing proposals/business plans. Crawford holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and a Master of Science in international affairs from Florida State University.

Photo Credits

  • Digital Vision/Photodisc/Getty Images