A Certified Financial Analyst advises businesses and individuals in investment decisions. Analysts usually work for banks, investment houses, insurance companies and pension funds. A bachelor's degree in economics, finance or another related field is recommended. In order to receive the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) designation, financial analysts must complete formal education, work for several years and pass a 3-part exam.
- A bachelor's degree in finance economics or related field is required
- Projected job growth of 12% for all financial analysts
A financial analyst needs a bachelor's degree for an entry-level position. Degrees may be in finance, business administration or economics. However, many employers are now seeking analysts with a master's degree, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov). The BLS also reports that experience can often be a bigger advantage than formal education. Institutions typically promote employees with an excellent track record within the organization.
Financial analysts become certified through the Association of Investment Management and Research (www.cfainstitute.org). The CFA program is a preparatory program that prepares a student to take a 3-part examination and is based on the Candidate Body of Knowledge (CBOK). Analysts receive preparation materials from the CFA Institute and study independently. Successfully completing the examination earns the graduate the CFA designation.
The association also offers a certificate in investment performance measurement (CIPM) that is recognized globally. The program focuses on investment performance evaluation and is the only designation of its kind in the industry. Applicants study and pass two examinations to earn the designation of CIPM. Students must meet the ethical and professional requirements of the program.
The main goal of a certified financial analyst is to make decisions about companies, stocks and industries for the purpose of making money for a corporation or individual. CFAs track the performance of stocks and collect the data in a spreadsheet that can be interpreted by a stockbroker or client.
CFAs also help individuals to make sound investment decisions for both short-term and long-term goals. For example, they work with individuals to determine the best time to sell a home.
Some CFAs work for banks or insurance companies. They help companies promote financial products or services. Services or products might be individual retirement accounts (IRAs), insurance policies or tax shelters.
Although a bachelor's degree is required to become a financial analyst and to sit for the certification exam, many employers are now looking for individuals with more schooling, typically a master's degree, and/or experience in the field. For those wishing to increase their credentials, certification is available for investment performance measurement as well as chartered financial analyst.