1. Financial Careers: Introduction
  2. Financial Careers: Qualifications and Credentials
  3. Financial Careers: Finance Employers
  4. Financial Careers: Investment Banking Jobs
  5. Financial Careers: Trading Jobs
  6. Financial Careers: Financial Advisory Jobs
  7. Financial Careers: Analytical Jobs
  8. Financial Careers: Financial Media Jobs
  9. Financial Careers: Analyst Jobs
  10. Financial Careers: Portfolio Management Jobs
  11. Financial Careers: Conclusion

Next, we’ll take a look at finance jobs that incorporate a “big picture” approach. Financial analysts observe broad areas of the economy and the markets in order to look for major trends. Naturally, given the open-ended nature of the above description, financial analysts represent a large number of different jobs and areas of focus. Still, these jobs tend to appeal to individuals that enjoy analyzing data, tracking trends, and making opinions based on those trends and regarding the future of financial markets. Analytical jobs frequently involve writing, public speaking and ample work with Excel or another spreadsheet application.

Where the Jobs Are

Financial analyst jobs, including those of economist, strategist, or “quant,” are found in many different institutions. These jobs exist at investment banks, money management firms, and other traditional finance-world institutions. They also can be found in the public sector, in government, and even in academia. The breadth of institutions employing analysts means that these jobs can be found in cities and towns all over the world.

How to Get an Analytical Job

Financial analysts almost always have substantial schooling. It’s vital that an applicant hold at least an undergraduate degree, and most will hold either an MBA or a PhD (or both). Because of the writing component in many analytical jobs, a background of experience writing and even publishing in the applicant’s area of expertise is strongly desirable.

Financial analysts enjoy a degree of flexibility that many other finance jobs do not. Analytical jobs can often move between different types of employers. An established economist may move from a job at an investment bank to one at a university to one with the government, while conducting essentially the same type of work in each case. While there is a high initial barrier to entry in financial analyst jobs, once an individual possesses the qualifications and the experience, they enjoy a great degree of freedom. (Learn more in The Best Designation For Your Financial Education: CFA, MBA or Both?)

Types of Analytical Jobs

  • Economist Jobs

These are ubiquitous at a variety of finance-related institutions. Companies like investment banks, asset managers, hedge funds, central banks, and more all employ economists, and governmental agencies and academic institutions do as well. Generally speaking, an economist tracks and analyzes data in order to view trends in the economy in an effort to explain current market circumstances and/or predict the future via forecasting. Economists frequently write on their viewpoints, and depending upon their employment they may also teach, lecture, or deliver public addresses. Some institutions have economists as an important “face,” and economists will interact directly with potential clients to articulate their (and their company’s) viewpoints and strategy. There are also plenty of economist positions which do not involve direct work in the spotlight, and one is just as likely to find economists crunching numbers and creating forecast models without interacting with the public. Economists often hold at least a masters degree and, in many cases, hold a PhD as well. Most certifications and licenses are not required for these positions. The pay associated with economist positions is largely dependent upon the institution; hedge funds and major banks frequently pay well, but academic and government jobs tend to be less generous. (For a complete guide to economics, see our Economics Basics Tutorial.)

  • Strategist Jobs

There is a fine line between a strategist and an economist. Both of these positions require ample time spent analyzing data and forecasting economic trends, and many positions in either category include public interaction. Economists tend to focus more on the broader economy, though, while strategists incorporate financial market analysis into their work. Strategy jobs are more likely to be found at banks and money management companies than they are in academic and government institutions. Many strategists begin their work as research analysts, focusing on a particular product or area. Later, they may move to the strategy area by analyzing overall markets in their area of focus. At the top of the ladder is the Chief Investment Strategist, who may be the primary public persona of a firm. In these cases, the strategist must be adept at public speaking, or even appearing on TV. Most strategists hold graduate degrees, and CFA designation is not uncommon. Top level strategist positions pay extremely well, especially at major firms. In-demand strategists may also be able to move to portfolio management positions based on their reputation, as well.

  • Quant Jobs

While some analytic positions require workers to develop views and then disseminate them to the public or to clients, quants typically work behind the scenes. These jobs are responsible for creating mathematical models which are designed to predict market activity, and they are usually found at companies including banks, hedge funds, and money management firms. Most quant workers have backgrounds in mathematics or statistics, often possessing a PhD or other advanced degree in one of those areas. If you have a particular love for working with numbers or creating computer models, a quant position may be right for you. What’s more, quants can earn huge sums of money, depending upon their specific role and level. (To learn more, see Quants: The Rocket Scientists Of Wall Street.)

Summary

It’s a bit misleading to say that there are certain jobs in finance which could be categorized as “analytical,” when, in fact, most jobs in this area require at least some amount of analysis. However, the careers outlined in this chapter focus primarily on analysis. Individuals with a particular interest in looking for patterns in data and then creating models to forecast future trends will likely gravitate toward analytics positions. Many of the positions listed here also incorporate at least some degree of client- or public-facing experience.

 


Financial Careers: Financial Media Jobs
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