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A financial analyst is a professional, undertaking financial analysis for external or internal clients as a core feature of the job. The role may specifically be titled securities analyst, research analyst, equity analyst, investment analyst, or ratings analyst.Financial Analysts
Bureau of Labor Statistics
Financial Analysts
collegegrad.com
The job title is a broad one:What does a financial analyst do?
Rasmussen College
Financial Analyst job description guide
Robert Half
Financial Specialists
Bureau of Labor Statistics
in banking, and industry more generally, various other analyst-roles cover financial management and (credit) Finance#Risk_management, risk management, as opposed to focusing on investments and valuation; these are also discussed in this article. The term “financial analyst” is not usually taken to include quantitative analysts, or “quants”.


Role

Financial analysts are employed by mutual fund, mutual- and pension funds, hedge funds, securities firms, banks, investment banks, insurance companies, and other businesses, helping these companies or their clients make investment decisions. In corporate roles, financial analysts perform budget, revenue and cost modelling and analytics as part of their responsibilities; Credit analyst, credit analysis is likewise a distinct area. Credit Analysts
Bureau of Labor Statistics
Financial analysts invariably use spreadsheets (and statistical software packages) to analyze financial data, spot trends, and develop forecasts; see Financial modeling#Accounting, Financial modeling. The analyst often also meets with company officials to gain a better insight into a company's prospects and to determine the company's managerial effectiveness. As mentioned, "quantitative analysts" are usually seen as distinct from “financial analysts”. Typically “quants” are concerned with derivative (finance), derivatives, fixed income analysis and financial risk management, and focus on mathematical modeling as opposed to accounting-related analytics (compare and Financial modeling#Accounting, § Accounting). At the same time, particularly in banking, "quants" often work on the same projects as financial analysts, dealing with the mathematically intensive elements.


Securities firms

In a stock brokerage house or investment bank (discussed below), the analyst will read company financial statements and analyze commodity prices, sales, costs, expenses, and tax rates in order to business valuation, determine a company's value and financial forecast, project future earnings. On the basis of their results, they research report, write reports and make presentations, usually making recommendations to buy or sell a particular investment or security. Typically, at the end of the assessment, an analyst would provide a rating recommending or investment action: to buy, sell, or hold the security. Senior analysts may actually make the decision to buy or sell for the company or client if they are the ones responsible for managing the assets. Other, "junior" analysts use the data to model and measure the financial risks associated with making a particular investment decision. See . Usually, financial analysts study a specific industry (Securities research#Analyst specialization, "sector specialist"), assessing current trends in business practices, products, and industry competition. Among the industries with the most analyst coverage are biotechnology, financial services, Energy industry, energy, mining / resources, and computer hardware, software and services. Analysts must keep abreast of new regulations or policies that may affect the industry, as well as monitor the economy to determine its effect on earnings. A 1999 paper by Ezra Zuckerman found that, as equity analysts divide securities by discrete sectors, companies which fall outside or across multiple sectors are punished in the ratings of analysts Analysts may also specialize in fixed Income. Similar to Equity Analysts, ''Fixed Income Analysts'' bond valuation, assess the value and Corporate bond#Risk analysis, analyze the risks of various securities, here focusing on Interest rate derivative, interest rate- and fixed income security, fixed income securities, particularly bond (finance), bonds. They may further specialize, but here by issuer-type, i.e. municipal bonds, government bonds, and corporate bonds; the latter specialization is often decomposed into convertible bonds, high-yield debt, high yield bonds, and distressed securities, distressed bonds; some cover Syndicated_loan, syndicated bank loans. The reporting focuses on the ability of the issuer to make payments - similar to the credit analysis #Corporate_and_other, described below - but also on the Bond valuation#Relative price approach, relative value of the security in question, and in context of the overall market and yield curve. See Fixed income analysis. Analysts are generally divided into Sell-side analyst, 'sell-side' and Buy-side analyst, 'buy-side'. The buy-side is sometimes considered more prestigious, professional, and scholarly, while the sell-side may be higher-paid and more like a sales and marketing role. It is common to begin careers on the sell-side at large banks then move to the buy-side at a fund. *A sell-side analyst's work is not used by its employer to invest directly, rather it is sold either for money or for other benefits by the employer to buy-side organisations. Sell-side research is often used as 'soft money' rather than sold directly, for example provided to preferred clients in return for business. research report, Writing reports or notes expressing opinions is always a part of "sell-side" (brokerage) analyst job and is often not required for "buy-side" (investment firms) analysts. It is sometimes used to promote the companies being researched when the sell-side has some other interest in them, as a form of marketing, which can lead to conflicts of interest. *A buy-side analyst, such as a fund manager, works for a company which buys and holds stocks itself, on the analyst's recommendation. As they gain experience, analysts often move from buy-side research, concerning individual securities and sectors, into portfolio manager, portfolio management itself, selecting the asset allocation, mix of investments for a Investor#Institutional investor, company's portfolio. They may also become fund managers and manage large investment portfolios for Investor#Retail investor, individual investors. Typically, analysts use fundamental analysis principles, but technical analysis and tactical evaluation of the market environment are also routine. Analysts obtain information by studying public records and SEC filing, filings by the company, as well as by participating in public earnings calls where they can ask direct questions to the management. Additional information can be also received in small group or one-on-one meetings with senior members of management teams. However, in many markets such information gathering became difficult and potentially illegal due to legislative changes brought upon by corporate scandals in the early 2000s. One example is Regulation FD (Fair Disclosure) in the United States. Many other developed countries also adopted similar rules. Analyst performance is ranked by a range of services such as StarMine owned by Thomson Reuters or Institutional Investor magazine. Research by Numis found that small companies with the most analyst coverage outperformed peers by 2.5 per cent — while those with low coverage underperformed by 0.7 per cent.


Controversies about financing

Analyst recommendations on stocks owned by firms employing them may be seen as potentially biased. Debate still exists about the way sell-side analysts are paid. Usually brokerage fees pay for their research. But this creates a temptation for analysts to act as stock sellers and to lure investors into "overtrading". Some consider that it would be sounder if investors had to pay for financial research separately and directly to fully independent research firms. The research department sometimes doesn't have the ability to bring in enough money to be a self-sustaining research company. The research analysts' department is therefore sometimes part of the marketing department of an investment bank, brokerage, or investment advisory firm. Since 2002 there has been extra effort to overcome perceived conflicts of interest between the investment part of the firm and the public and client research part of the firm (see accounting scandals). For example, research firms are sometimes separated into two categories, brokerage and independent. Independent researchers are not part of an investment firm and so don't have the same incentive to issue overly favorable views on companies. But this might not be sufficient to avoid all conflicts of interest. In Europe, the Markets in Financial Instruments Directive 2004 and subsequent related legislation has in part been an attempt to clarify the exact remit of equity analysts. A recent development is the introduction of "MiFID 2" (Directive 2014/65/EU), a legal framework for securities markets, investment intermediaries, and trading venues. Particularly, here, the way that research may be sold is regulated; see Directive_2014/65/EU#Substance, § Substance there, and .


Investment Banking

Financial analysts in the investment banking departments of securities or banking firms often work in teams, analyzing the future prospects of companies, and selling shares to the public for the first time via an initial public offering (IPO), or Bond (finance)#Issuance, issuing bonds; this task is often identical to that of a securities analyst. On this basis, they will then make presentations to prospective investors re the merits of investing in the new company, presenting their "pitch books" on a “financial roadshows, roadshow;” see bookrunner and securities underwriting. An additional component of the IB role here: analysts ensure that all forms and written materials necessary for compliance with Securities and Exchange Commission regulations are accurate and complete. Many IB analysts work in mergers and acquisitions (M&A) departments, similarly preparing analyses on the costs and benefits of a proposed merger or takeover, and assisting with Securities regulation in the United States, regulatory submissions; here there are both buy-side analyst, buy-side- and sell-side analysts. See . The analysis is somewhat more specialized than for an IPO, as it must consider: (i) Mergers and acquisitions#Business valuation, valuation pre- and post-merger, a function of efficiencies, synergies, and / or increased market share, (ii) Mergers and acquisitions#Financing, financing employed, including M&A specific considerations such as the swap ratio, and (iii) tax implications. Compare Business valuation and Stock valuation. At more senior levels, Vice president#In financial services companies, "vice presidents" (VP, or SVP) will manage the workflow and deliverables (modelling performed by "associate" AVPs), but not be involved in the detail ''per se''. Corporate title#United States, Directors will be responsible for Rainmaker (business), "rainmaking" and maintaining existing client relationships. The latter role incorporates a significant advisory element - guiding the client re Relative valuation, their profile and exposure in the capital markets, and advising on M&A and other corporate activity (and liaising with sales and trading).


Middle office

Within banking, there are other non-quant analyst roles (not necessarily titled "financial analyst"), mainly within the Investment banking#Middle office, "middle office"; these are generally linked, at least Solid line reporting#Dotted-line (indirect) reporting, by dotted line, to both the Finance and Risk Management areas. *Corporate treasury, Corporate Treasury is responsible for an investment bank's funding, capital structure management, and liquidity risk monitoring; see . It is then (co)responsible for the bank's funds transfer pricing (FTP) framework. *product control, Product Control is primarily responsible for P&L Explained, "explaining" the P&L; i.e.: attributing returns to Trading room#Organization, individual desks, PnL Explained#Sensitivities method, decomposing these into their Risk factor (finance)#Financial Risks for the Market, risk factors, and ensuring that traders' positions Mark-to-market accounting, are reflected at Fair value, their market values; the tools here are often built by a separate quant team, possibly Investment banking#Front office, front office, but maintained by Product Control. *Credit Risk monitors the bank's debt-clients on an ongoing basis, as #Corporate_and_other, described below; it is additionally responsible for tracking the risk capital and Risk-adjusted return on capital, risk adjusted returns on these clients, and reporting re concentration risk and risk appetite. These areas allow "Finance" to advise Senior Management re the firm's global risk exposure and the profitability and structure of the firm's various businesses. A comptroller (or financial controller) is a senior position, responsible for these analyses and internal control more generally, usually reporting to the bank's chief financial officer.


Corporate and other

Financial_management#Role, Analysts in corporate rolesFinancial Analyst Job Description
Corporate Finance Institute
provide inputs into all elements of the firm's financial management.Financial Managers
Bureau of Labor Statistics
The ''short term'' focus is on working capital management, and includes tasks such as profitability analysis, Cost analyst, cost analysis, Variance (accounting), variance analysis, and Treasury management#Corporate Finance, treasury management. ''Medium term'' elements are budgeting and planning; their models here form the basis for financial forecasting, scenario analysis (sometimes re corporate strategy), §39 "Corporate Planning Models". See also, §294 "Simulation Model". and Corporate finance#Capitalization structure, balance sheet optimization .Budget Analysts
Bureau of Labor Statistics
The latter, extends to involvement with dividend policy, and capital structure; relatedly, forecasts here also feed into group Asset and liability management, ALM. Analysts are also involved with ''long term'' "capital budgeting", i.e. decisions relating to Corporate finance#Investment and project valuation, "project" selection and valuation and related funding decisions; these forecasts feed through to the debt capital markets, Debt Capital Markets team, "DCM", responsible for securing and managing long-term funding. Management of these deliverables sits with the financial manager (FM); treasury analyst/manager, budget analyst and cost analyst are often specialized roles. The area overall is sometimes referred to as "FP&A" (Financial Planning and Analysis). Financial planning and analysis (FP&A) professional
Association of Chartered Certified Accountants
The financial director or chief financial officer (FD, CFO) has primary responsibility for managing the company's finances, including financial planning, management of financial risks, record-keeping, and financial reporting. There are several analyst roles related to credit risk, macro or micro. ratings agency, Ratings analysts (who are often employees of ratings agencies), evaluate the ability of companies or governments that issue bonds to repay their debt. On the basis of their evaluation, a management team Bond credit rating, assigns a rating to a company's or government's bonds. Financial analysts employed in Commercial Loan, commercial lending perform balance sheet analysis, examining the borrower's financial statements, audited financial statements and corollary data in order to similarly assess lending risks, and to confirm that Yield spread#Yield spread analysis, yield is appropriate given risk; this task is both upfront and on a monitoring basis thereafter. The focus is on current and forecasted Financial ratio#Debt ratios (leveraging ratios), debt- and Financial ratio#Liquidity ratios, liquidity ratios generally, and specifically those related to any loan covenants, such as Debt service coverage ratio, DSCR and Loan-to-value ratio, LTVR. In retail banking, credit analysts build models to determine an applicant's creditworthiness, assign an initial credit score, and monitor this and the loan on the basis of an ongoing Consumer credit risk#Credit strategy, "behavioral" score. In the latter two roles, Impairment (financial reporting), impairment- and Provision (accounting), provision-modelling are a prominent deliverable (see IFRS 9); the probability of default, PD, exposure at default, EAD and loss given default, LGD statistics or models are (often) provided by a separate (but dedicated) Quantitative_analysis_(finance)#Risk_management, credit-quant team. Some financial analysts specialize as "accounting analysts"; they will collect industry data (mainly balance sheet, income statement and capital adequacy in banking sector), merger and acquisition history and financial news for their clients. They then typically “standardize“ the different companies' data, facilitating peer group analysis: the main objective here is to enable their clients to make better decisions about the investment across different regions. They also provide the abundance of financial ratios calculated from the data gathered from financial statements, and possibly other sources.


Qualification


General

In general, a Business education#Undergraduate education, business-related bachelor's degree majoring Bachelor of Accountancy, in Accounting, Finance, Bachelor of Economics, or Economics is a minimum requirement for an entry or junior role (as well as proficiency in Microsoft Excel, Excel – see under Financial modeling#Accounting, Financial Modeling). Often, more senior analysts are expected to then earn an MBA, having gained 2–3 years experience in the junior role. Increasingly, it is preferred that, even to enter, analysts hold a Master of Finance, master's degree in finance. More specific qualifications may be required.Financial Managers
collegegrad.com
In (senior) financial management roles, a Professional accounting body, professional accounting certification – the Certified Public Accountant, CPA, Chartered accountant, CA, Certified Management Accountant, CMA, or Chartered Institute of Management Accountants, CIMA – is often a prerequisite; this, given the overlap with tax and financial reporting. Credit-related analysts, depending on their role, may require the Financial Risk Manager, FRM / professional risk manager, PRM, or an actuarial qualification; in more commercial roles, an industry certification, such as the Credit Business Associate from the National Association of Credit Management (NACM). In treasury management roles, analysts may require the Association of Corporate Treasurers#Membership, ACT or Certified Treasury Professional, CTP credential.


Securities and Investment banking

In securities and IB roles, it is lately preferred that, similarly, even to enter, analysts earn a master's or the Chartered Financial Analyst, CFA designation (in Europe, the Certified International Investment Analyst, CIIA also), with the MBA still common at senior levels. There are also many regulatory requirements. For example, in the United States, sell-side or Wall Street research analysts must register with the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA). In addition to passing the General Securities Representative Exam, candidates must pass the ''Research Analyst Examination'' (List of securities examinations#United States of America, series 86/87) in order to publish research for the purpose of selling or promoting publicly traded securities. For other jurisdictions, see List of securities examinations. For sector-specialists – with approximately five years industry experience – less weight is placed on finance qualifications, as a relevant advanced degree or qualification in the field is often necessary. Equity Research Recruiting: The Definitive Guide
Luis Miguel Ochoa
(They will later be encouraged to earn the CFA, CIIA, or MBA.) For example, Valuation (finance)#Valuing financial service firms, valuing financial service firms and Valuation (finance)#Valuation of mining projects, valuing mining corporates, require specialized knowledge regarding their Business valuation standard, valuation-, regulatory-, and accounting standards; and, respectively, qualifications in actuarial science, and mining engineering / geologist, geology will often be required. Outline of industry, Other sectors may similarly require specific technical qualifications: e.g. bachelor of pharmacy, in pharmacy / life sciences for :Life sciences industry, "bio-tech"; in electronic engineering for (some) areas in "high tech", e.g. semiconductors. Most large teams will also include a CPA or CA in a dedicated technical role. (In Commonwealth of Nations, the Commonwealth, the CA qualification is often sufficient to access (junior) analyst roles.) Large trading houses, and banks, often employ an economist, economics team, usually chief economist, led by a Doctor of Philosophy, PhD in the discipline, while a Master of Economics, masters in economics is the typical requirement to join the team; see . This team produces the economic forecasts informing the various valuations and investment strategy. Banks often recruit analysts with qualified accountant, accounting qualifications to the middle office roles.


See also

*Accounting analyst *Budget analyst *Cost analyst *Credit analyst *Financial manager *Financial services *Quantitative analyst *Research report *Securities research *Structurer


Notes


Further reading


Lehman bust highlights analyst "group-think disease"
Elinor Comlay, reuters.com, Sep 10, 2009

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