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How to Become a Financial Analyst: The Basics

How To Become a Financial Analyst

Anyone who has ever looked at a financial report or read a news article about the stock market knows that analysts play an important role in how companies generate revenue, manage capital, and stay competitive.

Whether you want to understand what’s happening in the markets or want to get into the field as a hobby, it’s never too late to start looking for ways to become a financial analyst. In this blog post, we’ll provide you with everything you need to know about becoming a financial analyst.

What is a Financial Analyst?

Financial analysts are mostly responsible for analyzing financial information and using it to make predictions and recommendations about the performance of a company.

Companies might hire them to help them evaluate their financial performance and make decisions about their growth strategy. Alternatively, investment companies hire financial analysts to provide guidance on which stocks to buy or sell.

Similar to quantitative analysts, financial analysts may work for investment banks, hedge funds, or other financial institutions, or they may work for companies as part of a research team.

How to Become a Financial Analyst

If you want to become a financial analyst, you’ll first need to decide what kind of analyst you want to be. Research analysts, equity analysts, and debt analysts are some of the most common kinds of financial analysts. While each type of analyst is different from the others, they each have different career paths and challenges you’ll need to be aware of.

  • Research Analysts – Research analysts are responsible for gathering and analyzing financial information on a variety of companies. Their job is to research the market and identify new companies that they believe have potential, then use that information to make investment recommendations.
  • Equity Analysts – Equity analysts are similar to research analysts, except they focus solely on equity — i.e., stocks — and their goal is to identify companies that will outperform the market over the long term. Equity analysts may work for investment banks, hedge funds, or other financial institutions, but they also may find work at private equity and venture capital firms.
  • Debt Analysts – Finally, debt analysts are responsible for analyzing information related to debt and interest rates, such as government and corporate debt, and then using that information to make recommendations on the future performance of a company or a sector.

Steps To Become a Financial Analyst

If you’re thinking about becoming a financial analyst, here are some tips that can help you along the way.

Step 1: Learn the Basics

In order for you to stand out as a financial analyst, you should first learn the basics. You can either do this by taking a few courses at college or you can earn a Bachelor’s degree preferably in finance.

Although the exact path you’ll take after you enroll will depend a lot on the field you want to get into, the basic path to becoming a financial analyst is the same regardless of your area of focus. You should know that financial analysts are a career of numbers.

In your first year of college, make sure you get a strong foundation in basic finance and accounting principles, so you can understand your professors in class. From there, focus on getting relevant knowledge and experience in areas such as statistics and applied finance, as these will become important for your career as a financial analyst.

Step 2: Network, network, network 

Once you’re in college and have a solid foundation in finance and accounting, it’s time to start building your portfolio. The best way to do this is to attend local events as well as professional associations focused on the financial industry.

These events will allow you to get involved with the finance community and network with professionals who can provide you with valuable advice and mentorship. Offer to help out in your school’s financial aid office and you can also make connections with people in your community who can help you get internships.

Networking Benefits

Step 3: Find an Analyst Job

After you’ve built your portfolio with internships, you are ready to start searching for a full-time career. Begin by finding out which organizations recruit financial analysts. Your local chambers of commerce, city governments, and universities may all have a financial analyst job posting board. You may also want to search for financial analyst job openings on sites like LinkedIn or Indeed.

You’ll want to ensure you are only listing jobs where you are applying for the role of financial analyst, and ensure you are only applying to jobs you’re qualified for. Once you have a list of potential analyst jobs, start researching each company to understand what they do and what they are looking for in an analyst.

Find out if they have a recruiting process or if they prefer to work with recruiters, and what kind of background they are looking for in those who apply. You can also use the company’s investor relations site to get this information since most have a section that lists what skills they are looking for in analysts.

Step 4: Provide professional development and growth

Financial Analyst

After you land your first analyst job, you’ll want to make sure you are putting in the time and effort required to grow and succeed in your position. It will take time to build up your portfolio with relevant work experience and to build relationships within the financial industry.

To do this, make sure you are keeping a regular schedule and sticking to a rigorous schedule of studying, networking, and building your career. It’s not easy. But you’ll want to make sure you are dedicating the time that helps you develop skills that will serve you well in your career as a financial analyst.

Bottom line

For those who are interested in becoming a financial analyst as a career, it’s important to understand the basics of the field, start building a career portfolio with relevant work experience and professional associations and make sure they are keeping a regular schedule with studying, networking, and career development.

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