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What Do Financial Analysts Do?

Job Descriptions September 24, 2013

Financial Analysts study financial data closely as they must prepare to forecast financial information. They work with corporate firms on the pulse of the industry and economy. The professionals are helping to prepare data so that others can make financial decisions based on what they read. Literally speaking, they prepare spreadsheets and draw charts and graphs, as these will help to communicate financial information.

Education and Training

Before this process, they will be analyzing lots of data and making decisions concerning price, stability, future trends and other financial variables. Traditionally, the financial analyst reports to the portfolio manager. However, job promotion is fairly quick, and competent workers can expect to be promoted within three to five years of being hired.

There are openings for junior and senior applicants within many firms at any given time because it is a niche that is not easy to fill. Still, know that the industry is competitive, and most applicants would do well to earn a degree in finance or accounting.

Since you will be researching macro and micro economic information, this subject might be considered a related field. Other courses that apply would be math, economics, biology or computer science. MBA graduates are often hired straight out of school, sometimes as senior not junior analysts. For financial studies, considered the CFA program or Chartered Financial Analyst program.

Specializing and Learning the Profession

You may find it advantageous to specialize in a particular part of financial analysis, such as banking, buying, selling or insurance, which would certainly prelude finding a career in these specific fields. In fact, sell side and buy side firms, as well as investment banks, are the most common positions in the job market.

Your responsibilities will be to find all of the latest pertinent information in macro and micro economy, as well as to research companies making headways. Most analysts bring their work home with them, as they read in their private time, eager to see how the market is changing.

While most accounting jobs tend to be indoors, a lot of travel is expected. The reason being, you will be expected to evaluate company operations directly, “hands on”, so as to get a full and accurate view of the company. You may also be required to attend conferences who specialize in the same areas or companies that you do.

You will have to have a technical edge, since this job field uses spreadsheets, databases and statistical graphs on a regular basis. In addition, you must learn multimedia programs so that you can create presentations to senior management, as well as forecasting.

The most successful applicants tend to be the ones proficient in modern technology, and the ones who can make excellent presentations via software like PowerPoint. At the same time, do not underestimate the need for people skills. Senior financial analysts are the ones who develop interpersonal relationships with major players and company heads. For this, communication skills are a definite plus.

This is a rewarding career, and one that truly puts you in the real business world; not working merely as an assistant, but as an integral part of the business landscape.

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1 Program(s) Found
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  • Live classes are held online and coursework is self-paced.
  • Students in the DataScience@SMU program have access to dedicated support services and join the Southern Methodist University (SMU) alumni network after graduation.
  • Students attend an in-person immersion at the SMU campus in Dallas, Texas.
  • The curriculum is truly interdisciplinary, bringing together subjects that data scientists use in the field every day.
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