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

In this chapter, we’ll take a look at financial analyst jobs. These are distinct from the analytical jobs we saw in chapter 7, as they are very common throughout the financial industry. “Analyst” jobs may encompass a wide range of job descriptions, and they are to be found at many different companies. It’s worth noting as well that there is no single definition for the term “analyst,” and that it is found in many different arenas within the financial space. We’ll look at some of the most common jobs with this title, but any individual “analyst” job may differ quite a bit from these descriptions.

Where the Jobs Are

Analyst jobs can be found at banks, brokerage firms, money management companies, and other investment-focused financial companies. In these cases, analysts are typically responsible for researching potential investments and offering opinions and recommendations to help guide the traders and portfolio managers. Financial analysts also work at non-bank corporations, too, where they typically analyze the financial position of the company and help to formulate budgetary plans. Analyst jobs can be found in most large cities, although the greatest number of positions are to be found in international financial centers like New York or Hong Kong.

How to Get an Analyst Job

Like most other financial jobs, the road toward becoming an analyst usually begins with a college degree. In many cases, a role as an analyst is the first job that someone will hold after college. Research analysts at banks and money management firms may be more advanced careers which require years of experience. Later on, many analysts will return to graduate school or seek out CFA designation in order to boost their job prospects. It’s not uncommon for analysts who are passionate about their work to spend their entire careers in these positions. On the other hand, many analysts use their experience in this area to learn all about investments and then continue as portfolio manager at a hedge fund or money management company. (For more, see Sizing Up A Job As A Ratings Analyst.)

Types of Analyst Jobs

  • Entry-Level Analyst Jobs

Many entry-level employees at investment banks work in analyst positions. In most of these cases, the analyst will have recently graduated from a prestigious college (earning a degree in economics, mathematics, or having relevant background experience, and earning excellent grades). The analyst will then usually work for two to three years on financial models, working on behalf of more senior bankers or analysts. Analysts working in these low-level positions have notoriously tough hours, and all-nighters are common, as is weekend work. Following this initial stint, the analyst typically returns to graduate school. After earning a graduate degree, they may return to the same firm as before or begin at a new firm. In either case, it’s common for them to enter at a higher level than they began. Entry-level analysts do not make the same kind of salaries enjoyed by higher-level bankers. Nonetheless, they earn more than most other degrees straight out of college.

  • Investment Analyst Jobs

For our purposes, we’ll distinguish an investment analyst job from an entry-level analyst job by stipulating that the former is intended to be a more permanent position, while the latter is an entry point and pit stop along the path of the analyst career. Investment analysts typically specialize in one or more areas, including particular regions of the world or types of investment vehicles. It’s common for investment analysts to eventually become experts in their areas. Analysts working for sell-side companies will usually put out buy and sell recommendations for clients. Analysts working for a buy-side company will often recommend securities to buy or sell for their portfolio managers. Investment analysts may be paid extraordinarily well, depending upon their area of focus, the type of company at which they work, and how adept they are at their job.

  • Financial Analyst Jobs

Financial analysts are somewhat different from investment analysts. Financial analysts tend to work at more traditional (non-finance) corporations. Nearly every corporation, regardless of sector or industry, keeps financial analysts on staff in order to analyze cash flows and expenditures, to maintain budgets, and more. These analysts may also help to determine the best capital structure for the corporation, or maybe to assist with capital raising. Financial analysts have the potential to rise through the ranks at their corporation, eventually becoming treasurer or chief financial officer. Governmental agencies also employ financial analysts. Many financial analyst jobs pay very well, although overall they are less well compensated than those similar jobs at investment firms. On the other hand, though, corporate jobs may provide additional stability and less pressure than those at investment firms. (Learn more in 10 Ways To Avoid Burnout In Corporate Finance.)

Summary

It’s difficult to find a single working definition for “analyst” in the financial space. Overall, though, workers with this job title usually spend a good deal of time generating financial models in Excel or another spreadsheet service. There is often not a great degree of client- or public-facing interaction. A desire to work with computers and models is essential, as is an affinity for math and detailed organization. (Pressed for time? Check out Financial Efficiency: The Analyst's Guide To Time Management.)

Next, we’ll look at portfolio management jobs.


Financial Careers: Portfolio Management Jobs
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