So, you’re thinking about your future career and you want to explore your options. Great! It’s always better to explore a vocation before you commit to it. That way, you know what to expect. You’re intrigued by financial analytics, but being a shrewd businessperson, you want to know what the job pays first. So, what is the average financial analyst salary?
We’ll answer that question and some others you may have about how a financial analyst spends his or her time, what sort of skills and expertise the job requires, and what the career path of an aspiring financial analyst looks like. You should know that the job is challenging and demanding, which is part of the appeal for many who pursue it.
Becoming an analyst isn’t easy. The value that analysts bring to companies is high. The best candidates compete for positions because it takes a keen mind and the right set of attributes to succeed as a financial analyst. The salary of a financial analyst is reflective of several factors.
To put it simply, there’s money to be made both for you and your employer. Savvy financial analysts know this and negotiate their salaries accordingly. But before you can negotiate on your own behalf, you need to develop a working knowledge of the job, the marketplace, and your role within it.
What Is A Financial Analyst?
All of us have an idea of Wall Street and its basic principles of operation. Investors buy and sell stocks, which are shares of companies. This investment money helps those companies to grow, and in return investors see dividends. But how do investors sort good investments from bad? If you have any hope of navigating the tricky, high stakes investment world, you need reliable information.
This is where financial analysts come in. Financial analysts earn their salary by looking for patterns in mountains of financial data and then using the insight they derive to make recommendations to clients. This process is incredibly involved and requires the analyst to look at a potential investment through a variety of different lenses.
Financial analysts need to examine the short-term and also take the long view. They need to understand the mechanics of broad macroeconomic systems and also possess an intimate knowledge of smaller micro-economies. A financial analyst studies businesses and business sectors. They build models to identify trends and use this information to help clients make informed decisions.
The stock and bond markets create winners and losers, and often the difference lies in who has better information available to them. Financial analysts develop information and, using their knowledge, can predict how financial instruments work and the reasons they work.
Wall Street Or Main Street?
Often, financial analysts work with corporate clients in the domestic and international banking or investment sector-the world of Wall Street. However, there are different analysts who perform work for a wide range of clients. This is good news for anyone wanting to become a financial analyst, because it means there are a variety of opportunities available.
Imagine that you’re a financial analyst and hired by a franchise owner of a chain of fast-food restaurants. The owner has several restaurants scattered across the country and wants to know how to operate these companies as efficiently as possible. You, as the financial analyst, will look at employee salaries, profits, losses, growth trends, and any other information that might be relevant.
Using all of this data, you’ll look for patterns and relationships between different factors, and construct models to predict future market behavior. If the employer increased worker salaries, could they command a higher quality worker who will miss fewer work days? Will a boost in advertising translate into higher sales? These are questions clients pay big money to learn the answers to.
So what does this mean for those interested in working and earning a financial analyst salary? Gathering data and building models is time-consuming, potential applicants can expect some long hours. Work schedules exceeding forty hours a week are not uncommon. Naturally, some analysts work off-the-clock at home during their evening hours to keep up.
Education & Certification
If you want to be considered for a financial analyst position and earn that lucrative financial analyst salary, you must hold at least a Bachelor’s degree from an accredited university. While a self-taught understanding of the marketplace is always valuable, it’s no substitute for formal education in this career.
Most contenders for financial analysts positions major in finance or related fields like statistics or accounting as undergrads. Some go on to earn their Master's of Business Administration before they enter the workforce or after they have a few years of work experience.
In addition, some financial analysts who perform analyses in the securities sector need additional certification. If your work in financial analyses involves trading in securities, then you’ll probably need to pass the Series 7 exam. You might also need to pass the Series 63 exam. This may not be a prerequisite for employment as an employer may prepare you on the job and pay the exam fees.
Since this field is highly competitive, both your degree and which school you attended matters. Every fall, career recruiters working for big banks seek out to entice top talent from Ivy League universities to offer lucrative starting salaries. If you’re set to graduate soon or are a newly minted graduate from an elite school, this news might be making your mouth water.
But don’t think that you don’t have a chance of distinguishing yourself if you didn’t graduate from a top school. Earning a Master’s degree is a great way to set yourself apart from the rest of the pack. This increases the odds that you’ll be offered a position when you graduate.
The career path of a financial analyst is less well-defined than someone who is pursuing medicine or law. This is an advantage for hopeful job seekers who want to get to work and discouraged by the years spent preparing for some other professional careers. If you want to take home a financial analyst salary, you might consider whether you want to work on the “buy” side or the “sell” side.
On the buy side, analysts track trends in the marketplace and make recommendations. These recommendations might be given directly to the company they work for, if the business employs analysts in-house, or they might work for a third party company. Buy-side analysts can command an impressive salary, but the highest financial analyst salaries are usually found on the sell side.
The highest paid sell-side analysts usually work for major banking institutions. Sell-side analysts recommend how much a financial product should be sold for based on its value to investors relative to products offered by competitors. This can become highly specialized, as some analysts have esoteric knowledge specific to the financial instruments they work with.
Average Financial Analyst Salary
A financial analyst salary can vary based on their level of education, where they are in the country, and what sector of the industry they choose to work in. For this reason, the salary you earn working as a financial analyst may be different from the norm. However, you can expect to earn upwards of $55,000 annually as a starting salary.
This makes financial analysis a highly lucrative field when you consider that many households earn a combined salary of roughly $51,000. While the highest-paid analysts work close to major business hubs, you need not live near Wall Street to work as a financial analyst and draw a salary.
With experience, you can expect to earn much more than the average. In fact, salaries of $140,000 a year or more aren’t uncommon, especially if you’re based in New York or San Francisco. Top firms attract the best talent to work for them with lavish salaries. While this means competition for high-paying jobs, there is money to be made for a whole range of financial analysts.
Now that you know a bit more about what you can expect from a financial analyst salary, you’re better prepared to enter the marketplace. You might find that working as a financial analyst offers a fascinating set of problem-solving challenges and gets you excited to go to work every day. Expect long hours and some stressful days, but also plenty of opportunities for advancement.
To make yourself marketable and have a company hire you straight out of college, it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with the tools financial analysts use every day. You should have an extensive knowledge of spreadsheets and software that can help you build visual models of data. Learning more is a great way to make yourself competitive no matter the business.
Because they fill so many roles, financial analysts play an essential role for many businesses. The job has even grown into its own industry of sorts as businesses, and financial entities who don’t use their services are left behind by those that do. Don’t get left behind yourself. Gain skills, study hard, and you’ll have a great financial analyst salary to look forward to.