If you’re a small to medium-sized business owner or executive, you may have looked into hiring a financial analyst. They provide deep insights into the past and future finances of entities and securities. This article is a guide to what you can expect a financial analyst to do for you and your company.
As a brief roadmap, we’ll discuss what financial analysts do, the different types of analysts, the details behind hiring one, and how they integrate within your existing operations. Let’s jump right in!
What does a financial analyst do on a daily basis?
Financial analyst is a broad job title that can encompass many things. For the purpose of this article, we have boiled down the general vital activities that a great financial analyst performs.
Gathering, parsing, and organizing large amounts of data
Obtaining data is frequently the most time-consuming part of a financial analyst’s day. Depending on what the analyst is focusing on, i.e., futures, stocks, or bonds, the amount and types of data can vary.
Analysts examine a large spectrum of data, ranging from raw accounting data to general industry research. Here is a brief look at the types of data analysts often require:
General ledger accounting data
If an analyst is observing a company’s economic viability, they may look at the general ledger. This is an essential document that expresses the liabilities, assets, and stockholder equity of a company. A financial analyst will look at the specifics behind the company’s balance sheet, income statement, and cash flows. Analysts gain insights from these documents about longevity, responsibility, and strategy.
An analyst will often examine this information to prepare for an upcoming merger or acquisition to identify if the investment is sound.
Past and future stock data
There are many important insights that an analyst can illuminate from stock analysis of a company, which is especially important for investment activities. Analysts gather fundamental insights from stock data, including:
- Earnings per share - A valuable company comparison metric.
- Price to Earnings to Growth ratio - Used to determine a stock’s actual value compared to the company's expected growth.
- Return on Equity - This is a fundamental measure that identifies how good a company is at converting investment into profit.
- Price to Earnings ratio - Often split into trailing and future ratios, the P/E shows how much an investor can expect to pay per dollar of earnings.
- Dividend Payout ratio - This shows the total percentage of income paid to investors via dividends, which is a good indicator of maturity.
Analysts occasionally need to purchase and examine industry reports. If your company is looking to acquire a business within a specific industry, the analyst must take a deep dive into the future of the said industry.
These industry reports can be expensive but are well worth it. There are many hyper-specific reports created by reputable firms such as Ibis World, Statista, and SBA.gov that analysts use to construct valuable reports on the viability of a particular industry.
Analysts often look at macroeconomic data to paint a picture of the country's economic direction as a whole. If the country is headed towards a recession or is within a bubble, analysts gather valuable insights into how these conditions will affect companies' operations, revenues, and stability.
Financial analysts examine the following key macroeconomic metrics:
- Gross Domestic Product Fluctuation
- National labor statistics
- Federal Reserve time-series data
- Congressional Budget
The American Economic Association has a landing page where all of this information is available, as it is public information.
Processing and analyzing data
After gathering sufficient data for the task at hand, an analyst can perform the meat of their job. There are many ways that an analyst can analyze data; here are some of the most common software packages that they typically use:
Excel is one of the most powerful tools in the financial analyst’s toolkit. It has a deep suite of tools suited for financial analysis. It is perfect for creating introductory metrics and figures to indicate trends and impactful insights. However, for procedural analysis and data wrangling, Excel often lacks.
Tableau is a state-of-the-art data visualization tool. It facilitates analysts in creating killer visuals and graphs. While many figures that Tableau creates are by no means unique, it has a speed advantage. Tableau has a highly visual interface that allows analysts to quickly and easily develop complex figures.
R is a coding language used by statisticians and analysts to perform batch data processing and analysis. R has a complete functionality that allows analysts to create repeatable scripts, statistical analyses, metrics, and powerful figures.
Jira is a project management and collaboration tool that houses a fast, easy project management framework. This allows financial analysts to collaborate on complex analysis projects that can span months.
Forecasting, projecting, and recommendations
After they complete their analysis and data wrangling, financial analysts often create sets of forecasts and predictions. These forecasts act as guidelines for strategic and financial decisions for the business moving forward. Management needs to have ample access to forecasts and projections to identify the best opportunities and the most dangerous threats to a particular company or industry.
Analysts forecast many key metrics, such as year-over-year growth rates, industry-informed revenue regression, demand, and supply. They use these metrics to create recommendations for management to ponder when making investment decisions.
Generating visuals, presentations, and reports
Finally, analysts need to create visual representations of data, trends, and forecasts. Data presented in graphic formats is impactful, and analysts know this well. Without proper visuals, communicating key insights is tough.
These visuals are crucial inclusions in analyst presentations and reports to management. They break up the monotony of a standard financial presentation while efficiently communicating information.
Lastly, analysts create reports to present to upper management to communicate their findings appropriately. This is often the most critical step of their process; their findings can shape the future of a business forever.
What are the types of financial analysts?
There are many types of analysts; here is a brief overview of some of the most common ones:
Security analysts provide buy/sell/hold insights concerning securities. They construct reports that highlight the future of certain companies based on the performance and volume of their issued securities.
Investment analysts provide similar insights to security analysts, but their scope is broader. They examine national and global economic trends and create educated guesses on how these trends will affect the performance of specific industries.
Financial Quantitative Analysts
FQAs provide specific insights on what to invest in and how to best go about it. They operate in a minimal scope; they often make decisions based on information that changes by the minute.
These analysts act as transparent third parties that analyze the accountability of various firms. They create price targets for stocks and identify when a stock is over or undervalued.
How do I tell if a financial analyst is a right fit?
Education, experience, and personality traits
Analysts often have bachelor’s degrees in finance; however, great analysts often have degrees in statistics or economics. MBA grads are also a good fit, as they have industry experience while also having a robust financial background. Anyone with a deep basis in quantitative reasoning is a good contender for being an analyst, so don’t be afraid to interview engineers or mathematicians.
Experience and certificates
Experience is always a plus, but don’t limit yourself to looking for highly experienced analysts, as they will demand significantly higher pay. Look for candidates involved in the Chartered Financial Analyst Program or those who have passed the Series 63 and Series 7 exams.
A great financial analyst has the following qualities:
Pattern recognition skills
They can see trends in processed data that a layperson could never see. A good candidate for a financial analyst position should exude this quality in their day-to-day actions and reports. If they are not natural pattern seer, they won’t be able to provide the insights you need.
Financial analysts need to have grit to get them through the day; they need to be highly motivated to work through countless hours of mind-numbing work. They will often work long, tough hours staring at a computer screen, which can be a struggle for some people.
The crux of a financial analyst’s job is communication. They take data and turn it into insights, which are then translated into business decisions. If they cannot communicate their data properly, they will not add any value to your company.
Great analysts build and maintain a deep rapport with their peers and leaders. As we mentioned earlier, communication is a core tenet of being a great analyst, which builds directly into being good with people. Managing large projects with vast amounts of data can be a tricky process, especially when other analysts with their own goals are involved.
Hiring a financial analyst
Financial analyst salaries
According to the Occupational Outlook Handbook, the median salary for analysts was $81,410 in 2021. The top 10% of analysts earned over $160,000, and the bottom 10% earned $48,000.
Financial analyst job market overview
The compounded annual growth rate for analyst jobs in America is 8%. On average, there are approximately 41,000 job openings for analysts each year.
How can I find an excellent financial analyst?
Use a recruiter
The most effective way to hire a financial analyst is to work with a third-party recruiter. Recruiters handpick the best candidates by seeking specific qualities that make a great analyst. Here at J2T, we place analysts in Colorado and Montana and have an excellent track record of success. If you need to fill an analyst position, please contact us, and we’ll get the process started.
Written by Jordan Gibbs
Jordan Gibbs is a content writer for J2T. He has a Master of Innovation Management degree and a Bachelor of Mechanical Engineering. Jordan loves to be creative in any medium, whether it be writing, music, or art. He is also passionate about nature; he’s happiest when he’s in the mountains.
J2T is a recruiting and staffing firm that solely focuses on accounting and finance roles. J2T Flex facilitates all operational accounting needs including and all contract or contract to hire needs. On the direct hire side, J2T Recruiting specializes in Sr. Accountants/Analysts through CFO and touches everything in the corporate accounting and finance organizational chart. J2T is a women-owned business exclusively serving the Colorado and Montana markets with the overarching goal to serve you in all areas of the hiring experience.