The official definition of a financial analyst, per the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), is someone who provides help with making investment decisions to businesses and individuals. It's a financial analyst's job to review and interpret the performance of securities and other investment assets. Specific job titles include insurance underwriters, financial advisers, budget analysts and financial managers.

Financial analysts are commonly separated into the buy side and the sell side. Buy-side analysts work for those with money to invest (institutional investors) and are busy managing very large portfolio returns. Analysts on the sell side are responsible for helping companies and issuers price their securities or other financial instruments.

Not all jobs fall into these neat categories, however. Financial analysts are often market-level thinking budget managers or production cost analysts. The key aspect is studying, interpreting and/or predicting financial performance.

Pursuing a Career in Financial Analysis

Financial analysis, as a service, can take place through portfolio management, market research, as a complimentary service to the selling of securitized investments or many other forms. Hedge funds and pension funds certainly need financial analysts, but so do any companies that purchase, sell or hold investments.

There are various careers in financial analysis. Many of them require a master's degree in a related field and/or professional licenses, and all of them require at least a bachelor's degree. Degrees in finance, business management, economics or statistics are the most common.

Most financial analysts begin as junior analysts or perform some other entry-level duties for a few years before accepting analyst roles. Working on the buy side of the market is more common for large financial institutions, although there are sell-side positions there as well. Sell-side analysts tend to work for clients or companies that are smaller.

  1. What is the difference between a buy-side analyst and a sell-side analyst?

    The main difference between a buy-side analyst and sell-side analyst is the type of firm that employs them and the people ... Read Answer >>
  2. What's the average salary for a finance major?

    Decide if a finance career is appealing to you based on the average yearly salaries of jobs for finance majors. Read Answer >>
  3. What is the difference between portfolio management and financial planning?

    Understand the difference between financial planning and portfolio management, and learn which financial professionals can ... Read Answer >>
Related Articles
  1. Financial Advisor

    Becoming a Financial Analyst

    Understand the types of career paths you can take as a financial analyst, and learn the education and skills you need to launch a career in this field.
  2. Financial Advisor

    Career Advice: Financial Analyst Vs. Research Analyst

    Read an in-depth comparison between a career as a financial analyst and a career as a research analyst, including advice on which one to choose.
  3. Personal Finance

    Financial Analyst: Career Path & Qualifications

    Read about what it takes to become a financial analyst in a corporation or securities firm, and learn how far you can rise in the profession.
  4. Personal Finance

    Investment analyst: Career path and qualifications

    Learn how to prepare for a career as an investment analyst and how many professionals in the field progress through their careers.
  5. Personal Finance

    Career advice: Financial analyst versus data analyst

    Learn the distinctions between financial analysts and data analysts, and determine which career is right for you based on your skill set and interests.
  6. Personal Finance

    Financial Data Analyst: Career Path & Qualifications

    Learn more about the career options available to financial data analysts, and determine whether the profession is a good match for you.
  7. Personal Finance

    Careers In Buy-Side And Sell-Side Research

    The primary professions on Wall Street are made up of sell side and buy side analysts. This article is an overview of the two primary avenues for individuals interested in both fields.
  8. Personal Finance

    Career advice: financial analyst versus accountant

    Read an in-depth comparison between a career as a financial analyst and a career as an accountant, including how to determine which is best for you.
  9. Personal Finance

    Revenue Analyst: Career Path & Qualifications

    Learn more about the duties of a revenue analyst and the qualifications needed for the position, along with the career path for these professionals.
  1. Sell Side

    The part of the financial industry involved with the creation, ...
  2. Buy Side

    The side of Wall Street comprising the investing institutions ...
  3. Analyst Sponsorship

    A positive endorsement that an analyst makes regarding a company's ...
  4. Security Analyst

    A financial professional who studies various industries and companies, ...
  5. Technical Analyst

    A technical analyst, or technician, is a securities researcher ...
  6. Strong Buy

    A type of stock purchasing recommendation given by analysts for ...
Trading Center