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What does a financial analyst do?

Financial analysts help people decide how to invest their money. They work for banks, insurance companies, mutual funds, and securities firms. They often meet with company officials to learn more about the firms in which they want to invest. After the meeting, they write reports and give talks about what they found out. Then they suggest buying or selling that firm's stock.

Financial analysts may specialize. Those in investment banking study the companies that want to sell stock to the public for the first time. They also might study the pros and cons of a merger or takeover. Financial analysts who are called ratings analysts find out if companies that issue bonds can repay their debt.

Financial analysts usually work in offices. They may work long hours. Some may have to travel to visit clients or talk to investors, sometimes on evenings or weekends. Many also face the pressure of deadlines. They may do research on various firms after office hours, because their day is filled with telephone calls and meetings.

How do you get ready to become a financial analyst?

Most financial analysts have a college degree in business, accounting, statistics, or finance. A master's degree in business administration (MBA) is desirable.

Math, computer, and problem-solving skills are vital. Working with clients requires good people skills. Confidence, maturity, and the ability to work on your own also are important. They need good communication skills to present complex financial concepts in simple language.

Financial analysts must like to seek out obscure facts and details. They also should know how the economy, tax laws, and money markets work.

How much does a finacial analyst get?

The middle half of all financial analysts earned from $43,660 and $76,620 a year in 2002. The lowest-paid 10 percent made less than $34,570. The highest-paid 10 percent made more than $108,060. Many financial analysts also get a bonus. The bonus can add a lot to their earnings.

How many jobs are there?

There were 298,000 financial analysts and personal financial advisors in 2002. About 6 in 10 of that total were financial analysts. Many work at the head offices of big financial firms. New York City is a big center for this kind of work.

What about the future?

Employment of financial analysts should grow about as fast as the average for all occupations through 2012. Mutual funds will need more financial analysts to recommend which financial products to buy or sell. They also will work in investment banks to help raise money and work on mergers. However, competition is expected for some financial analyst jobs, because many people want these jobs.

Are there other jobs like this?

  • Accountants
  • Financial managers
  • Insurance sales agents
  • Real estate agents
  • Securities, commodities, and financial services sales representatives
Where can you find more information?

More information about financial analysts and personal financial advisors can be found in the Careers Database.

Source: Occupational Outlook Handbook -- U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics

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