The investment team at most buy-side firms is comprised of multiple layers including portfolio management, trading, portfolio analytics, risk, compliance, and legal teams. Each layer is a necessary component to ensure a portfolio is managed within fiduciary and client guidelines. A portfolio analyst works with many of the team layers.
Tasks and Education
Portfolio analysis is a very involved and comprehensive job that requires a strong financial background through past experience and education. Although a bachelor’s degree in finance, economics or accounting is the most common educational requirement, many portfolio analysts have advanced degrees.
The job duties required of portfolio analysts differ greatly among firms. Yet, despite the differences, portfolio analysts typically perform several common duties, such as conducting detailed portfolio analysis and preparing reports. Included in the portfolio analysis is a comparison of different industries, consideration of historic trends, and an understanding of financial metrics and regulatory/legal restrictions that may impact the portfolio. Portfolio analysts frequently utilize specific software applications that attribute portfolio performance to individual securities or asset allocations. Portfolio analysts may also conduct client meetings, and communicate portfolio information to clients and client requirements to managers. Often, portfolio analysts move up to be portfolio managers or other investment team members responsible for making the investment decisions.
The annual salary range for portfolio analysts typically falls between $47,000-94,000 with a median salary of $66,204 (according to Glassdoor). Incentive compensation (annual bonus) is reported to be about $10,044 on average, raising the median total compensation to $76,248 (as of Oct. 2020). The variance of total compensation for portfolio analysts can be wide, depending on years of experience and the type of firm, and the variation is often split between annual salary and incentive compensation.
Additionally, geographic location plays a key role in the level of compensation. For example, portfolio analysts in the New York metropolitan area can make up to 27% more than the national average. Lastly, portfolio analysts get paid more than their peers. The average Portfolio Analyst salary is 24% higher than the nationwide annual median wage ($53,490 as of May 2019), demonstrating the overall highly compensated nature of these jobs.
Portfolio analysts have the exciting role of working between the investment team layers which allows them to touch various aspects of the investment organization from portfolio management to risk and legal. This is a good way to determine what aspect of the investment organization is of interest for future opportunities.