One of the important reasons why graduates and young professionals decide to proceed in the finance or banking fields is the potential for relatively fast and substantial growth within an organizational hierarchy. Nevertheless, this process is neither fast nor secured making it mandatory that any young specialist sets clear objectives and goals as to how they would plan to get there. For example, consider the position of a financial analyst.
A financial analyst is responsible for researching and analyzing financial information to make well informed decisions about the future investments of a company (or even individual). Naturally, this field is very competitive and you should start your preparation as early as your university years, taking courses in economics, accounting, business, etc. Some recruiters say that many of the junior analysts hired have an engineering or scientific background, while the MBAs are sought after for senior analyst positions right out of business school. Even if you do not have such qualifications, you can consider taking the appropriate exams to prove your fit.
Financial analysts are likely to focus on a particular sector based on the company they work for. One of the most tempting branches seems to be that of working for investment banks, where analysts would research stocks, write reports and monitor financial movements to essentially determine whether or not a specific deal is feasible based on the fundamentals of the companies involved.
At the job, financial analysts would need to be constantly updated on both macroeconomic issues and information about particular companies’ balance-sheets. This would imply regular reading of the financial press, along with traveling and managing statistical data. A key set of on the job responsibilities would include:
1. Study financial data to prepare forecasts of corporate, industrial and economic conditions to be used in making investment decisions.
2. Prepare spreadsheets and draw charts and graphs for financial reports.
3. Assess the relative quality of various securities in a given field.
4. Analyze information influencing investment programs (price, yield, stability, future trends in investment risks, and economic influences, for example).
5. Gain knowledge and remain informed about novelty in the areas of industrial technology, business, finance, and economic theory.
6. Follow crucial economic, industrial, and corporate movements by analyzing financial information such as balance sheets, investment banking firms reports, government agencies and trade publications, company sources, and personal interviews.
7. Plan actions for investment based on sound analysis
8. Prepare verbal and written reports on overall economic trends, specific businesses or sectors.
9. Propose investments and investment timing to companies, investment firm staff, or the investing public.
10. Work together with investment bankers to find new corporate clients to securities firms.
A junior financial analyst would be reporting to a portfolio manager and by gaining experience and knowledge is likely to be promoted to a senior position within 3-5 years. A senior analyst might move to being a portfolio manager, a partner in an investment institution or a senior manager in retail banks or insurance companies. Others might choose to become investment advisors or financial consultants.
To ensure success on the job, juniors would need to focus on improving their skills in managing databases and spreadsheets, while being able to synthesize complex information into easy to understand presentations and reports. Great presentation and reporting skills would also be highly values at a time of promotion. Some other key competencies for this position include:
1. Technical and Functional Expertise
2. Understanding the Business
3. Results oriented
4. Customer oriented
6. Interpersonal and Communication Skills
7. Leadership and Personal Effectiveness
As all financial experts, analysts are required to put in long hours and hard work to get to a promotion. Nevertheless, given success, according to official institutions, certified specialist were earning (in late 2010) could earn between $49,000 to $73,000 as financial analysts and higher with increasing levels of experience.