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How to become a financial analyst

Person writing on a large data sheet

The world is a strange place at the moment, and it’s making a lot of us think about changing things up and moving in a new direction. If that’s you, then you might want to consider becoming a financial analyst.

Here we break down the role for you.

What is a financial analyst?

Financial analysts track stocks, bonds, equities, and other financial instruments, then make recommendations based on their research. They often work for investment houses, stock brokerages, banks, insurance agencies, and similar organisations.

What do they do?

The work that financial analysts undertake falls under two broad categories: sell-side analysts and buy-side analysts.

Buy-side analysts work for hedge funds or insurance companies to help businesses with their investment strategies.

Sell-side analysts advise financial service sales agents who issue, sell or trade stocks, bonds, and other investments.

The job description for a financial analyst can vary depending on the employer - an insurance company would have different needs to an investment bank for example. Some financial analysts make recommendations for private, in-house funds, whilst others work for publications and businesses that make public recommendations.

What qualifications do I need?

You will need to have a bachelor’s degree as a minimum, in a finance-related subject such as economics, statistics or accounting. You would have a much broader range of opportunities available if you had a master’s degree in finance or a Master's of Business Administration (MBA).

You may also need to get certified if you want to advance your career. Many employers will require you to get the CFA charter for senior level positions. The CFA charter is the most prestigious designation a financial analyst can achieve. It comprises three tough exams and four years of relevant experience. It’s not to be taken lightly - it’s recommended that you study at least 300 hours for each exam.

What skills do I need?

You’ll need a wide range of skills, and they do vary depending on the role you’re in. But they could include:

  • Data analysis
  • Financial analysis
  • Financial modelling
  • Strategic thinking
  • Decision making
  • Marketing skills
  • Math skills
  • Attention to detail
  • Communication

What could I earn as a financial analyst?

The average Financial Analyst salary in the UK ranges from £44,000 to £75,000*, depending on your skill set, location and level of experience. This doesn’t include any bonuses that might be available.

Gaining more experience and knowledge will always allow you to aim for the higher end of the salary band.


Want to become a financial analyst? Check out our CFA page for more information about the qualification, and what is involved to become qualified.

*Sourced from Robert Half.