Embark on a lucrative career path in financial analytics and play an integral role in shaping your organization's investment strategies. With high pay rates and exciting travel opportunities, a career as a Financial Analyst offers more than just a regular 9-to-5 job.

Key Insights

  • Financial Analysts are indispensable to organizations as they analyze financial data to highlight investment opportunities and inform business decisions. They typically work long hours in a fast-paced setting.
  • Essential skills for a successful career in financial analytics include clear communication, an analytical mindset, attention to detail, ability to make decisions under pressure, and technical proficiency.
  • Being detail-oriented and tech-savvy is crucial in this role. Even slight changes in metrics can impact financial plans significantly, and Financial Analysts often work with advanced software and databases.
  • A bachelor's degree, although not a strict requirement, can be a stepping stone towards entry-level positions in this field and can lead to higher pay.
  • Additional licenses or certifications, such as a FINRA license, Certified Public Accountant, or Certified Financial Planner, could be beneficial for career advancement.
  • Noble Desktop offers comprehensive training programs in financial modeling and analysis, equipping students with fundamental financial concepts and advanced Excel techniques.

Deciding whether a career as a Financial Analyst is a good match for you will likely depend on your personality, as well as some other important factors. Because of how unpredictable the activity is in capital markets, Financial Analysts have historically been expected to work long hours. Some even work in excess of 80-100 hours a week. While certain people find the pace of financial analytics to be exhilarating, challenging, and exciting, it can be stressful and even exhausting to others. In addition, the soft and hard skills necessary to be a successful Financial Analyst take years of education and training to acquire fully. This means that another contributing factor to whether financial analytics is right for you is whether you currently have or are willing to develop the training to work in finance.

What is a Financial Analyst?

Financial Analysts study financial data and perform various research tasks to spot investment opportunities and analyze possible outcomes for business decisions. These professionals play an integral role in helping to create more informed investment strategies for their organization or its clients. To do so, Financial Analysts routinely perform tasks for their employer like studying current events and developments in the market, examining financial statements, and creating financial models that can anticipate future performance. They also may study macroeconomic trends or hone in on particular industries or sectors. Financial Analysts rely on their background in math, accounting, research, reporting, communication, critical thinking, and data analytics to perform these tasks.

Because of how valued they are by organizations, Financial Analysts often find employment with large corporations like insurance companies, security firms, investment banks, venture capital firms, or government agencies. They play an integral role in supporting an organization’s budgeting initiatives, as well as writing financial status reports and recommendations. Their process often involves steps such as collecting data, organizing information, performing data analysis on these numbers, providing projections or forecasts, offering recommendations, creating Excel models, presenting their findings to organizational stakeholders, and writing reports or dashboards to convey suggestions. Depending on their professional focus, Financial Analysts do extensive research on their organization’s buy-side and sell-side financial data. They often focus on either credit markets or equity markets.

Read more about what a Financial Analyst does.

Why Become a Financial Analyst?

Financial Analysts play an integral role in guiding their company’s investment decisions. Sound investments are essential for ensuring economic stability and facilitating continued organizational growth. These professionals provide services and insights that impact a range of stakeholders, from large corporations interested in becoming more profitable to couples planning for retirement. There are many benefits to pursuing a career as a Financial Analyst. High pay rates are the first benefit. Financial Analysts typically receive competitive salaries for their efforts. In 2021, the median pay for Financial Analysts was $96,000. This field also has a nine percent growth rate expected over the next decade, which is above the national average for other professions.

Not only do Financial Analysts enjoy high pay for their contributions to their organizations, but they often have travel opportunities. Some organizations’ Financial Analysts travel the world, studying the culture, political condition, regulations, and languages in different countries to better understand the factors that impact investment decisions. Career opportunities are available in many industries, as well as locations for Financial Analysts. These professionals can explore positions in securities firms, insurance companies, banks, pension offices, financial risk management consulting firms, or in-house accounting teams, among others. Career advancement is also another benefit of working as a Financial Analyst. The more experience you gain within an organization, you likely will have options to progress from Junior Analyst to Associate Analyst or even Senior Analyst. 

Another reason a career as a Financial Analyst is a good option is that it offers stable industry growth. Those who enter college must be prepared to eventually search for careers in different market conditions than when they began their study. Although most fields are affected to some extent by market fluctuations, the finance sector typically experiences stable growth, even during periods of rapid economic change. In addition, new financial products are created every day, as well as new investment opportunities. This means new opportunities for Financial Analysts are always available.

Read more about whether Financial Analyst is a good career.

Is a Career as a Financial Analyst Right for Me?

Financial analytics can be a fulfilling, meaningful career, one full of opportunities to grow professionally as you help your organization grow. However, this career isn’t right for everyone. If you’re trying to decide whether to become a Financial Analyst, the following five questions can help you know whether you’d be a good match for this field:

Are You a Clear Communicator?

Communication plays a crucial role in the job of Financial Analysts. The ability to communicate complex information to various audiences is essential for these professionals and constitutes a significant portion of their working life. Both written and verbal communication skills are needed to succeed in this position. Financial Analysts often must create reports to convey their suggestions on budgets or investments, which requires succinct, clear prose. Each day, they also send emails to a range of individuals, such as clients, team members, or Senior Financial Analysts. 

In addition to clear writing, Financial Analysts must also be able to impart their ideas verbally. Communicating with stakeholders over the phone is common in this field. In addition, those who work in financial analytics also make presentations to supervisors, clients, colleagues, and even the media. Presenting ideas and conclusions in a way that’s easy for all audience members to understand and remember can require breaking down complex financial concepts into a language that even those who don’t work in the finance industry will understand. Using stories to convey complex topics can help Financial Analysts show how relevant they are to audience members.

Do you Have an Analytical Mindset?

As the title of the profession conveys, analytics plays a fundamental role in the field of financial analytics. This skill involves computationally analyzing statistics or data. It provides a way for individuals to make data discoveries and communicate any patterns they find in the data. These patterns can provide important insights that can then be applied to help their organization make better decisions.

Most Financial Analysts spend a significant portion of their workday performing research, processing their findings, and synthesizing data from a range of sources. They then pose questions to make sure they fully grasp the entirety of the situation at hand so they can find a viable solution. An analytic mindset helps these individuals know how to gather data and determine its quality, and decide which analysis method is most suited to the information. Once the data is fully processed and interpreted, it’s then used to help Financial Analysts provide recommendations on which actions to take or investments their organization should explore.

Do You Have an Eye for Detail?

Those who work in finance must have a sharp eye for detail. In this field, one tiny anomaly could greatly affect a prediction. Even slight changes in metrics like sales numbers or consumer confidence can drastically affect financial plans. This is why Financial Analysts must be detail-oriented and constantly aware of small changes in the data streams they’re accessing and how they affect work. 

Financial Analysts also must have an eye for detail when creating financial reports that convey their organization’s financial status. These reports take many forms and may require detailed work preparing budgets, studying data, and explaining the company’s performance in clear, straightforward language. Not only does financial reporting require Financial Analysts to analyze vast amounts of information quickly, but it also means they must apply their attention to detail to note any trends or changes in the numbers and to make apt conclusions based on their findings.

Are You Able to Make Important Decisions Under Pressure?

Those who have careers in financial analytics must be able to review large amounts of information and reach sound decisions pertaining to which actions their organization should take based on these numbers. This means staying abreast of any changes in the finance industry. It also means knowing how to locate the best companies for a merger, understanding tax issues, or comprehending any complications that arise in a given business model. 

Because of how fast-paced most finance careers are, this field often requires that Financial Analysts must deal with urgent matters. When situations that demand immediate attention occur, these professionals apply the information they’ve collected, as well as the tools and skills they’ve acquired, to work toward a viable solution. Sometimes this means making the most out of limited information. Since Financial Analysts regularly make recommendations for individuals and businesses about how best to invest, decision-making is one of the most fundamental skills these individuals can possess.

Are You Good with Technology?

Technology is an essential part of financial analytics. Those who work in this field must be highly proficient with computers, databases, and different software to perform their job successfully. Financial Analysts work with proprietary software, as well as the algorithms their organization developed. Not only do they work with standard Microsoft applications like Excel and PowerPoint, but they also must have expertise working with a range of computer languages to manage vast datasets and communicate with databases effectively. Some of the most common programming languages Financial Analysts work with are Python, SQL, SAS, and R. 

Being one step ahead of the competition is a huge asset in finance. That’s why it’s also important for Financial Analysts to stay current on emerging software and technology. Working with the most up-to-date programs and tools is a great way to perform faster data analysis and reach conclusions ahead of other financial institutions. 

Do I Need a Degree to Become a Financial Analyst?

Although it’s not required by all employers, a bachelor’s degree is often seen as the first step to pursuing a career as a Financial Analyst. While there are many ways to develop the skill set needed to become a Financial Analyst, earning a bachelor of science in accounting management or finance is a common path toward entry-level positions in this field. Some individuals also choose to study statistics, business management, economics, or math. The training provided during undergraduate study with core skills like finance principles and investment or portfolio management will likely make it easier to perform as an Intern or Junior-Level Financial Analyst. Some undergraduate and graduate programs even offer concentrations in financial analysis. These programs provide hands-on lab instruction and internship opportunities in business statistics, corporate finance, investment management, economics, accounting, risk management, professional ethics, and financial reporting.

Not only will a bachelor’s help you get a job in finance, but it also can lead to higher pay. In 2020, those with a bachelor’s earned $19,000 more a year than those with an associate degree and about $27,000 more than those with a GED or high school diploma.

In addition to education, many Financial Analyst positions also seek candidates who have completed additional licenses or certifications. For example, those who wish to sell financial products typically need a Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) license. Some organizations look specifically for Certified Public Accountants or Certified Financial Planners, both of which require certification.

Read more about if you need a degree to become a Financial Analyst.

Learn the Skills to Become a Financial Analyst at Noble Desktop

Noble Desktop, an educational provider located in New York City, offers a range of classes devoted to financial modeling and analysis. Financial Modeling Bootcamp is a hands-on, 18-hour course that teaches students fundamental financial concepts, such as corporate valuation, accounting, and finance. Participants in this small class create their own discounted cash flow using Microsoft Excel. Over three days, expert instructors also help students develop a comprehensive financial model for an actual company. As a prerequisite to this bootcamp, students should have intermediate Excel proficiency.

Noble also has a Financial Analyst Training Program that provides expert instruction on timely corporate and financial concepts, such as making a full valuation model. Those enrolled in this intensive program receive instruction on fundamental Excel skills, such as using shortcuts and PivotTables. Advanced Excel techniques are also covered in this 30-hour program, like Goal Seek and cash flow projection tools. All learners also receive instruction on creating a three-statement financial model for a public restaurant company.

In addition to the Financial Modeling Bootcamp and Financial Analyst Training Program, Noble Desktop also has in-person and live online financial modeling training courses. The

Excel Bootcamp offers 18 hours of instruction on core business Excel skills like working with VLOOKUP, INDEX, MATCH, and What-If Analysis for Goal Seek. FinTech courses are also available, like Algorithmic Trading with Python, Python for Data Science Bootcamp, and FinTech Bootcamp. This course provides students with hands-on training from expert instructors in FinTech skills like working with Python and SQL for data analysis, creating machine learning models, and working with different data types like integers, floats, and strings. All students have the option of a free course retake for up to one year, as well as one-on-one mentoring.

Key Takeaways