A financial analyst occupies a central role in the hiring and spending decisions of a large organization. She researches and keeps up to date on regional, national and macroeconomic circumstances, together with company-specific and industry conditions. She can then offer informed advice about industry trends, investment decisions, and stock offerings and buy-backs, as well as prepare future economic models based on a range of variables.
Corporations focused on the financial industry require specialized analysts familiar with banks, insurance companies, brokerage firms, industry regulations and federal laws. Analysts at investment firms handle either the customer-driven products, such as mutual funds, initial public offerings and U.S. Treasury securities, or broader areas that include sovereign debt, inflation, unemployment and economic growth. Financial analysts at the large firms can also specialize in specific industries, such as cellphones or energy, and distinct areas of the economy, such as inflation or deficits. They offer reports and forecasts that others within their firms rely upon for key decisions.
Time and Travel
As macroeconomic conditions and company-specific circumstances can change rapidly, financial analysts must devote significant time remaining abreast of all developments within their purview. This involves substantial after-hours time reading major financial publications and websites. Analysts also generally spend much of their time on the road, researching outside companies and remaining on top of their own organization's operations. They must also attend industry conferences to interact with colleagues and learn the latest legal and regulatory changes that affect their companies.
Tools and Topics
Financial analysts rely on tools necessary to their jobs, including relational databases, statistics, software and spreadsheets. They assist in discerning industry trends, forecasting future sources of revenue and ensuring compliance with all applicable laws. Corporate executives also typically require a steady stream of customized reports that concern inventory management, profit margins, tax changes, salary levels and a raft of additional topics. As companies have a responsibility to their owners and shareholders to maximize profits, the financial analyst's role is integral.
Financial analysts must deal with numbers on a daily basis, but they are increasingly called on to interact with a large organization's managers and staff. Successful interpersonal relationships can make the difference in promotions, salary increases and visibility. Their oral and written skills must be exemplary as well to satisfy senior executives. Sloppy presentations, both on screen and in personal style, can suggest inaccurate numbers that few large organizations will tolerate.
Robert Rimm graduated from the University of Pennsylvania and founded 88keys.com to provide education, writing and communications services for clients within the nonprofit, arts and education communities in the United States, Europe and Russia. His key interests include art and culture, social entrepreneurship, education, the environment and human rights. He is fluent in French and Russian, and is a widely published author.