How to Become a Financial Analyst
Discover what it takes to become a financial analyst and find out if this career is meant for you!
Are you a detail-oriented person? Do you enjoy research and keeping up with global current events? Do you have strong analytical skills? If so, you may be a good fit for a career as a financial analyst!
What is a financial analyst?
A financial analyst is someone who researches and interprets financial data to help companies make decisions about investments. Some of the data financial analysts will consider in their research comes from stocks, bonds, business operations, franchise performance, marketing techniques, economic factors, and more. Based on their research, financial analysts will advise companies on which stocks to invest in, which ones to sell, and other factors. A financial analyst must have strong knowledge of macroeconomics and microeconomics to make predictions about future economic conditions, markets, and businesses.
How to become a financial analyst in 3 easy steps
Discover how you can become a financial analyst by following this simple pathway to success.
Step one: Education
To become a financial analyst, you’ll need a bachelor’s degree or equivalent in accounting, finance, commerce, business, economics, statistics, or any other program that shows you can work with numbers and financial information. These programs will help you develop essential skills for this position, such as research, communication, logic, problem-solving, analytical, good eye for detail, and strong mathematics skills.
Since there are more financial analyst candidates than there are job openings in Canada, you’ll need to set yourself apart from other applicants. One of the best ways to do this is by pursuing a graduate degree. A graduate degree is not required to become a financial analyst, but it will help you become a more desired candidate for jobs. If you’re considering a graduate degree, a Master of Business Administration with a concentration in finance may be the most helpful for this career. You can also set yourself apart by gaining valuable work experience through internship and co-op placements while pursuing your undergraduate degree.
Step two: Additional certifications
Most companies require or want their employees to complete the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) program from the CFA Institute. This is a rigorous three-level examination that takes a minimum of three years to complete. On top of the three exams, you’ll need one of the following experiences:
- a bachelor’s (or equivalent) degree
- you must be within 11 months of your graduation month for your bachelor’s (or equivalent) degree by the time you sit for your level I exam
- have 4,000 hours of professional work experience or a combination of these hours with your education
The good news is that you can take the exams before, during, or after you’ve achieved one of these requirements. This is a challenging program, but with this designation you’ll show potential employers your patience, drive, and persistence that helped you succeed. You’ll also be eligible for more senior level positions where you can earn more money.
Increase your chances of passing the CFA exams by doing your bachelor’s degree with schools that are affiliated with the CFA Institute. These affiliated schools use a curriculum that is extremely helpful for preparing students for the CFA program exams. This list of schools includes Toronto Metropolitan University, Thompson Rivers University, and University of Waterloo. With the help of these programs, you’ll be prepared to tackle the CFA program exams!
Keep in mind that you can always choose to go back to complete the CFA certification at any point in your career. You don’t need to do it right after your undergraduate degree.
Step three: Work experience
While it isn’t necessary to earn work experience before you graduate, it does help set you apart from other applicants. Many employers will prioritize candidates who already have some work experience over those who don’t.
The best way to gain work experience is by participating in internship and co-op opportunities while you complete your undergraduate degree. This way you’ll be able to study while gaining important work experience. Most schools will help connect you with these placements, so you won’t have to deal with the stress of finding these positions on your own.
What do financial analysts do?
As a financial analyst, you can expect to do the following tasks:
- analyze client investment projects
- assist in preparing budgets
- gather, analyze, and present data
- identify potential risks and returns from investments
- make investment recommendations for clients
- evaluate and forecast economic markets
Pros and cons of working as a financial analyst
Just like in every career, there are advantages and disadvantages to the job.
Explore the benefits of this career:
- make a decent salary
- room for growth and promotions
- variety of workplace options: banks, investment advisory firms, insurance companies, trust companies, utility companies, etc.
- a chance to offer meaningful advice to companies and individuals
Discover the disadvantages to being a financial analyst:
- long work hours (and may have to work on weekends)
- increased stress due to high level of responsibility and fluctuating economy
- extreme attention to detail
- little room for creativity
- difficult to have a positive work-life balance
Career prospects for a financial analyst
Want to get a sense of where in Canada you could work as a financial analyst? Check out the Canadian Government’s Job Bank for financial analyst job openings. You may also be wondering, “what do financial analysts make?” The average financial analyst makes $76,794. Check out the low, average, and high salary expectations of a financial analyst.
Now that you’ve learned a bit more about financial analysts, is this the career for you?
Explore a career as a financial analyst