Businesses, financial institutions, insurance companies, and investment advisory firms strive to optimize their investment strategies. One way they accomplish this is by hiring financial analysts.
What is a financial analyst?
Financial analysts evaluate financial data and economic trends to assist businesses and financial organizations in making sound investment decisions. They play a crucial role in the organizations they work for by collecting and analyzing financial data to understand the health of the business’s investments and how market trends may impact them. Based on their analyses, financial analysts recommend actions to the company leadership or board.
While some financial analysts might cover a wide range of analyses, there are specialties within the field, like research, securities, rating, or investment analysts. Analysts may focus on the sell-side or buy-side for organizations. There is also a demand for financial analysts in government regulatory firms.
Hiring quality financial analyst can help organizations navigate financial decisions, understand market trends, and improve long-term returns.
Financial analyst job description
Within a financial analyst’s job description, you should include some basic responsibilities you’ll want from the role. This can include:
- Using spreadsheets, statistical and graph packages, and relational databases to gather and analyze information.
- Developing detailed presentations of business financials and market trends.
- Verifying corporate documents and maintaining compliance with applicable government regulations.
A bachelor’s degree is an essential first step in becoming a financial analyst. While a degree in fields like finance, economics, business management, or accounting is most suitable, any degree that includes courses in economics, statistics, accounting, and other relevant topics can lay the foundation for a career in financial analysis.
Most graduates start working in accounting, banking, or investment positions before becoming financial analysts. This gives them the experience and the time to secure the licenses and credentials companies hiring financial analysts want to see. A master’s degree may be helpful but is not necessary.
Hard or technical skills
The technical skills that financial analysts need include:
- Proficiency with accounting software (i.e., QuickBooks, Hyperion, SAP, SQL)
- Financial modeling
- Proficiency with database platforms and software
- Project financing
- Corporate finance
- Microsoft Excel and PowerPoint
- Business valuation
Soft or durable skills
Successful financial advisors tend to be natural planners who are good with numbers and enjoy evaluating and comparing facts before making decisions. Here are some soft skills companies look for when hiring a financial analyst:
- Financial literacy
- Attention to detail
- Communication skills
- Interpersonal skills
- Presentation skills
- Critical thinking
- Analytical skills
Licenses and credentials
Some financial analysts positions must be licensed by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA). However, FINRA licensing requires sponsorship, so some companies will hire unlicensed analysts and sponsor them for licensing.
Many employers also want to see that their analysts have the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) credential from the CFA Institute. This credential is not required by law, but it does indicate a higher level of experience and knowledge and supports professional advancement. Some other certifications include:
- Series 7
- Certified Financial Planner (CFP)
- Certified International Investment Analyst (CIIA)
In addition to the FINRA license and CFA credential, certifications are available to demonstrate skills and abilities in specialized areas.
Financial analyst interview questions
In an interview, employers should assess the candidate’s skills and how well they will fit the job requirements, department, and company culture. In addition to general questions, here are a few you can ask when interviewing a candidate:
- What motivated you to become a financial analyst?
- What interests you about working for our company?
- Are you more comfortable working alone or as part of a team?
- Take me through a time when you had to present financial data to leadership.
- Tell me about a time an analysis you made went wrong. What did you learn from the experience? What would you do differently if you were in that situation now?
- If you had to analyze a company’s stock using a single metric, which one would you choose, and why?
- When you are determining a project’s profitability, what profitability model do you use?
Financial Analyst Career Outlook and Pay
According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, the demand for financial analysts will increase by 9 percent through 2031. Organizations want to manage and plan their financial well-being, which puts financial analysts in consistent demand.
Financial analysts usually work in an office hybrid or full-time and may work more than 40 hours a week. The median pay for this role is $95,570 annually.
Are you looking for the right financial analyst?
Hiring the right financial analyst requires matching the skill set and personality to the position. As a nationwide, people-first staffing firm with recruiters experienced in the finance industry (we’re one of the largest finance staffing firms in the United States), we have a database of skilled and experienced financial analysts. If you are looking for a rockstar financial analyst who is a great fit for your firm, we can help.