Overview

Financial Analysts are decision makers – they do not make all of the big decisions, but through detailed and accurate assessment of the company’s finances, they help to form strategic direction; so, this is a role for someone with specialized skills and a good head for ownership and accountability.

This role is broader in scope than that of a bookkeeper or accountant. A successful Financial Analyst must have skills across all financial disciplines – maths, databases, accountancy, bookkeeping, trading, and economics.

Important aspects of your day to day role might include making recommendations for the buying and selling of shares based on the current stock market performance, preparing detailed financial forecasts to inform the business in its future direction, making recommendations on acquisitions and merges and researching the potential in new investments.

This is a highly specialized and competitive field and to succeed you will need an edge. You need to be proactive, determined and ambitious; you need to be a whiz with statistics and data and you need to be interested in and up to date with all the latest financial news from around the world.

If this is where you think you want to be,  relevant study areas include business, economics, accounting and mathematics, and your resume needs to be firmly achievement based with evidence of facts and figures to back up your skills.

It is not a choice for the feint hearted, but once you have your foot in the door, this role can attract a significant annual salary and can lead to further opportunities in Senior Management or Consultancy.

Pay

The median pay for Finance-focused Analysts in the U.S in 2016 was just over $80,000/year, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. This is much higher than the total median for all occupations combined, which sits at just over $36,000/year. Within the industry of “Finance”, median salaries are further broken down based on specialities.

  • Securities, commodities and other financial Investors – $94,450/year
  • Professional, scientific or technical-related analysts – $83, 240/year
  • Management of financial companies and enterprises – $79,200/year
  • Credit intermediation and other related credit roles – $77,270/year
  • Insurance Analysts – $74,510

It should also be noted that many positions within in finance are highly incentivized with commission/bonus and stock options and thus the above salaries may not fully reflect to total remuneration received by professionals in this industry.

Financial Analyst Salary Statistics

2016 Median Pay$80,310 per year
$38.61 per hour
Typical Entry-level EducationBachelor's degree
Work Experience in a Related Occupation Required?No
On-the-job Training?Not Required
Number of Jobs, 2014-2024277,600
Job Outlook+12%
Employment Change 2012-2024+32,300
Sources: U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics & Payscale

Pay will also vary greatly depending on whether the individual works independently (self-employed), works for a financial enterprise (trading company/broker) or a financial institution (public/federal positions).

Industry Forecast

The growth rate for qualified analysts in finance is set at around +12% from 2014 to 2024, which is considerably higher than the average for all occupations combined, which is only set to grow at around +7% in the same time period.

As the American economy continues its statistically robust recovery, the demand for financial products and services is only set to increase, with professionals who hold specific knowledge pertaining to geographic regions and industries expected to lead the industry in terms of employment demand.

Investment portfolios are also becoming more and more complex, given new regulations, growing markets and ever-changing international geo-political boundaries. For this reason, analysts with expertise in emerging markets, particularly Africa and Asia, are poised to be able to capitalize on strong demand for their services.

There is always concern that increased governmental regulatory reform will contract the demand for financial jobs; however, the government has placed economic growth above almost everything else, so sudden damaging regulatory reform is not to be expected in the foreseeable future.

Furthermore, when restrictions are put in place on larger institutions like national banks, the industry will simply shift its focus to other investment branches, hedge funds, and private equity groups, thereby always producing a consistent demand for skilled analysts.

Types of Financial Analysts

Job titles are often broken down by both industry speciality and by seniority level. The four main sub-categories most financial analysts fall into include: Portfolio Managers, Fund Managers, Ratings Analysts, and Risk Analysts.

The resumes for all of these titles will be similar in what is required to stand out, primarily quantified experiences, unique industry insight, and geographical or industry specific knowledge.

After industry focus, the next type of title categorization is seniority level. These consist of titles like Entry-Level Financial Analyst, Financial Controller, Sr. Financial Analyst, Finance Manager, CFO, Finance Director, or Financial Analysis Manager.

The exact seniority level will depend on the years of experience a professional has, their industry (public/private) and the type of management role they perform.

Take time to seriously consider what your most accurate job title is, as this will help you laser target your job search so that you only find and apply for the positions which you are most qualified for, which ultimately will greatly reduce wasted time and energy spent applying for positions that are not quite a perfect match in terms of industry speciality and seniority level.

Sample Resume Download

Below is an example of a professionally written analyst resume you can download, print, and save to use as a reference when writing your own resume.

This is only to be used as a reference point and should not be copied directly, as the experiences and skills are unique to the example individual alone and you will have your own set of unique skills and experiences to include on your own resume.

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How To Write Your Own

Quantify Whenever Possible

As an analyst, you should be able to confidently and proficiently communicate achieved objectives in percentage and dollar terms whenever possible. These figures do not just jump off the page to HR managers but they are also the first thing that veteran financial managers will look for when evaluating the overall effectiveness you exhibited during any given previous work experience.

State the size of teams you managed numerically, fund totals in dollar terms, or earnings increases in dollar and percentage terms. Analysts live and die by figures, so a resume lacking in numerical quantification is both vague and weak and will not get nearly the same attention that a quantified resume will.

Think deeply about each experience and contact former co-workers, if necessary, to try to include accurate percentage and dollar figures for budgets, funds, or projects you worked on.

Highlight Specialities

The more refined your experiences are, the more tailored they will seem to the reader. For example, if you are seeking a position as an analyst for a large hedge fund, you will want to communicate a deep specialized understanding of an industry, such as electronics, for example, to show you are unique among applicants.

If your industry expertise is in electronics, you will need to communicate networks, projects and knowledge pertaining specifically to that industry.

Likewise, you can stand out by displaying specific knowledge of a particular geographic region, from the U.E. to ASEAN countries to Latin America. Working with regional teams, understanding local economies and regulations as well as having a working understanding of a local language will all help to communicate your in-depth understanding of a region.

Whatever your speciality is, try to search jobs containing that keyword so that your application is as targeted as possible. Make sure your cover letter and resume also both mention your specialities, as well, as they pertain to the position, company and job description you are writing for.

Include Soft Skills

Including the ability to develop corporate financial strategy, process risk management, grow company communication and networks are all great, but you will also want to match these up with other soft skills such as critical thinking, independent problem solving, team building and communication skills, as a genius analyst who can not communicate, for example, is not of much use to a company with hundreds or thousands of people spread over dozens of various departments.

Reassure

Finally, reassure the reader of your qualifications by including a detailed educational section where you list pertinent coursework, if you are an entry-level applicant.

If you are a more senior level candidate, you can help reassure by stating a full working knowledge of various regulations, from state to federal and even international; understanding the rules and regulations of a given sub-industry will really help an employer feel confident in adding you to the team knowing you are not just an potential asset, but also not a liability, either.

Sample Bullet Points

Below is a selection of professional experience bullet point samples you can use for inspiration when filling in the spots on your own resume.

Sample Financial Analyst Bullet Points

Task
Draw charts and graphs, using computer spreadsheets, to illustrate technical reports.
Inform investment decisions by analyzing financial information to forecast business, industry, or economic conditions.
Monitor developments in the fields of industrial technology, business, finance, and economic theory.
Interpret data on price, yield, stability, future investment-risk trends, economic influences, and other factors affecting investment programs.
Monitor fundamental economic, industrial, and corporate developments by analyzing information from financial publications and services, investment banking firms, government agencies, trade publications, company sources, or personal interviews.
Recommend investments and investment timing to companies, investment firm staff, or the public.
Determine the prices at which securities should be syndicated and offered to the public.
Prepare plans of action for investment, using financial analyses.
Evaluate and compare the relative quality of various securities in a given industry.
Present oral or written reports on general economic trends, individual corporations, and entire industries.
Contact brokers and purchase investments for companies, according to company policy.
Collaborate with investment bankers to attract new corporate clients to securities firms.
Conduct financial analyses related to investments in green construction or green retrofitting projects.
Determine the financial viability of alternative energy generation or fuel production systems, based on power source or feedstock quality, financing costs, potential revenue, and total project costs.
Evaluate financial viability and potential environmental benefits of cleantech innovations to secure capital investments from sources such as venture capital firms and government green fund grants.
Forecast or analyze financial costs associated with climate change or other environmental factors, such as clean water supply and demand.
Identify potential financial investments that are environmentally sound, considering issues such as carbon emissions and biodiversity.
Research and recommend environmentally-related financial products, such as energy futures, water rights, carbon credits, government environmental funds, and cleantech industry funds and company stocks.

Career Objective & Professional Summaries

You will kick you resume off with either a career objective or a professional summary/profile. The first is usually used for more inexperienced applicants, most commonly entry-level, while the later is used for more experienced candidates, particularly those with 10+ years of industry experience.

Career objectives are designed to communicate to the reader they indeed have the right resume in their hands and it is worth their time reading through the rest of the document. This is done by qualifying yourself with your educational background or years of experience, and by stating the position you are seeking to fill within a given company. This is done in just 1-2 sentences and should be succinct and to the point.

Professional summaries can be a little longer than career objectives, at 3-4 sentences long, as the candidate has more experience and thus more specialized skills they need to communicate to the reader. Professional profiles can even contain 4-6 “key” bullet points if the applicant is particularly experienced (think 20+ years) and serves not only to qualify the applicant but also communicate their seniority level.

Additional Skills & Certifications

Including financial certifications such as being a CPA are great ways to reinforce an already strong resume. Including other licensure from bodies such as the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA),  CFA Institute as a Chartered Financial Analysts (CFA), or even Chartered Accountant (CA) and Certified Management Accountant (CMA)  depending on the role being applied for.

Software skills are always valued, especially when they are industry relevant. All analysts will be expected to be proficient in things like Microsoft Word, PowerPoint and Excel. Knowledge of more financial related software like Great Plains, QuickBooks, Simply Accounting, SAP, CaseWare, Audit Command Language,  or other investment related tools are greatly valued.

Useful Skills to Include

Below is a selection of other skills you can include to mix up and diversify your skill-set to communicate a more well-rounded professional background.

Useful Financial Analyst Skills

SkillSkill Description
Reading ComprehensionUnderstanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.
WritingCommunicating effectively in writing as appropriate for the needs of the audience.
Critical ThinkingUsing logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.
SpeakingTalking to others to convey information effectively.
Active ListeningGiving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
Complex Problem SolvingIdentifying complex problems and reviewing related information to develop and evaluate options and implement solutions.
MathematicsUsing mathematics to solve problems.
Judgment and Decision MakingConsidering the relative costs and benefits of potential actions to choose the most appropriate one.
Active LearningUnderstanding the implications of new information for both current and future problem-solving and decision-making.
MonitoringMonitoring/Assessing performance of yourself, other individuals, or organizations to make improvements or take corrective action.
Systems AnalysisDetermining how a system should work and how changes in conditions, operations, and the environment will affect outcomes.
Systems EvaluationIdentifying measures or indicators of system performance and the actions needed to improve or correct performance, relative to the goals of the system.
Time ManagementManaging one's own time and the time of others.
Social PerceptivenessBeing aware of others' reactions and understanding why they react as they do.
PersuasionPersuading others to change their minds or behavior.
CoordinationAdjusting actions in relation to others' actions.
NegotiationBringing others together and trying to reconcile differences.
Operations AnalysisAnalyzing needs and product requirements to create a design.
Service OrientationActively looking for ways to help people.
Learning StrategiesSelecting and using training/instructional methods and procedures appropriate for the situation when learning or teaching new things.
InstructingTeaching others how to do something.
Management of Personnel ResourcesMotivating, developing, and directing people as they work, identifying the best people for the job.
Management of Financial ResourcesDetermining how money will be spent to get the work done, and accounting for these expenditures.
ScienceUsing scientific rules and methods to solve problems.
Management of Material ResourcesObtaining and seeing to the appropriate use of equipment, facilities, and materials needed to do certain work.
ProgrammingWriting computer programs for various purposes.
Operation MonitoringWatching gauges, dials, or other indicators to make sure a machine is working properly.
Technology DesignGenerating or adapting equipment and technology to serve user needs.
Equipment SelectionDetermining the kind of tools and equipment needed to do a job.
InstallationInstalling equipment, machines, wiring, or programs to meet specifications.
Operation and ControlControlling operations of equipment or systems.
Equipment MaintenancePerforming routine maintenance on equipment and determining when and what kind of maintenance is needed.
TroubleshootingDetermining causes of operating errors and deciding what to do about it.
RepairingRepairing machines or systems using the needed tools.
Quality Control AnalysisConducting tests and inspections of products, services, or processes to evaluate quality or performance.

Additional Resources

A “Day in the Life of” being an Analyst in the Finance industry: