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Want to Become a Financial Analyst? Here’s What You Need to Know

So, you’ve decided to take the leap into the fast-paced, volatile world of finances and pursue a career as a financial analyst. First off, congratulations on finding out what you’re interested in; that alone is a huge accomplishment. This field is extremely rewarding, to say the least. 

However, you need to be armed with enough information before taking any steps. There are many types of financial analysts out there; those who recommend purchases, others who recommend sales or investments, plan budgets, set future predictions, and so forth. To point you in the right direction, here’s what you need to know about this career path. 

What the Job is Like

From a distance, the job of a financial analyst can seem stressful, and it is. There is nothing relaxing about knowing that the fate of your client’s thousands, maybe even millions, is in your hands. However, the job provides an adrenaline rush, a challenging pace, and even higher rewards to the experienced. There’s no doubt that financial analysts are greatly compensated for the level of responsibility they are given. 

As part of your job, you’ll have to be frequently on-call with financial advisors, other analysts, managers, and other contacts. Therefore, networking is essential for any successful analyst. You must also be self-assured, especially when submitting any future projections to your clients. Despite the uncertainty of what is to come, clients need to know what their finances will look like in the future, and because the job falls on you, you will need to show confidence. Although it isn’t false confidence, it’s confidence based on your studies and research. 

The Qualifications

If you have a bachelor’s degree in a field related to finance, then you’re already on the right track, and from there, you have three options. You can find a job as a financial analyst,  get an internship at an elite firm and leverage that into a permanent position, or pursue a master’s degree. Having an advanced degree will not only set you apart from other candidates, but it also happens to be highly valued by employers. Keep in mind, though, that not all master’s degrees are created equal;  unless the university ranks high on and other trusted ranking websites, you could be wasting your money. By enrolling in a master’s program at a reputable university, you’ll have a higher chance of getting hired, and you’ll also have a solid ground for negotiating higher pay.

However, before you make that decision, you must know that experience is equally just as important as education. So, instead of spending time on another degree, you can build experience in the field, and since the job of a financial analyst depends on connections, you’ll already have a headstart on those with advanced degrees and minimal experience. Ultimately, the final decision is up to you; it mostly depends on what you value more and what you believe the company you’re aiming for values more in its employees.

Extensive Knowledge Is the Key to Success

As a financial analyst, your duties are mainly centered around analyzing finances and recommending investments, cost-reductions, and stating observations. For you to do all of that, you must be well-aware of your employer’s financial state and solvency, which means you’ll have to get used to reading financial records. Not only that, but you’ll also require a good knowledge of the state of the economy and your client’s industry, so always scour the internet and major newspapers for official government publications. If you’re required to give investment recommendations, you’ll also need to keep an eye on the rank lists from trusted websites to garner as much information as you can regarding the top places to invest in. 

At first, recommending investments might seem like a tricky job, but once you’ve found your own trusted sources of information, investment opportunities will instantly stand out on paper, especially once you understand why certain institution rankings change. Then, you can recommend a strategic allocation of funds that guarantees constant earnings for your clients.

Take the time to picture yourself working as a financial analyst, jumping from call to call and meeting to meeting, and making risky decisions under pressure. Can you see yourself doing such a job? If you can, don’t let yourself be deterred by the high stakes. If what you need is a little self-confidence, you can work on that by expanding your knowledge and experience, but don’t let it get in the way of such an opportunity. If a practice is what you need, use a virtual trading simulator; it’s an easy way to build up confidence while training for the job of your dreams.