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What is a credit analyst?
The job of credit analysts can be described very well using the example of a loan request in a bank: They represent a kind of background – the so-called back office – of bank sales (simply referred to as “market” or “market area”).
Traditionally, a bank customer advisor, i.e. the “market”, receives a request for a loan. This checks in advance whether the framework conditions desired by the customer can be implemented. To do this, he prepares the necessary information and, if necessary, requests missing documents from his customers. He then approaches his colleague, the credit analyst (or the “back office”). He or she now uses specified state criteria such as the MaRisk (minimum requirements for risk management of lending banks), the current specifications of the Basel Committee for Banking Supervision (currently: Basel III) and their own internal guidelines to determine the extent to which lending is finally possible.
Credit analysts can be found wherever financing services are offered: This includes insurance companies, investment banks, leasing companies, rating agencies and companies that offer consumer credit – including automobile manufacturers.
Here, based on the classification of the potential customer in a specific rating, they check whether a loan can be granted and, if so, what the conditions of the loan should look like, including the collateral to be deposited by the customer.
The main objective of credit analysts is to avoid defaults of any financial nature. Since they primarily assess, monitor and minimize risks, they belong to the risk management department. Your activity consists of three main steps:
- Analysis: Credit analysts research the customer in question. Depending on the assignment to the respective customer segment, various qualitative and quantitative criteria must be evaluated. For companies, this includes, for example, balance sheets and annual reports as well as economic and political factors. In the case of private individuals, on the other hand, aspects such as the employment relationship, any assets or possibly unfulfilled payment obligations play a role. What they all have in common is the collection of information from credit agencies such as Creditreform or SCHUFA.
- Rating: Based on the data now available, credit analysts create an internal customer rating and evaluate the creditworthiness, taking into account specified internal guidelines. In the case of a loan recommendation, they then determine the conditions (interest rate, term, collateral).
- Continuous review: After the loan has been successfully concluded, credit analysts regularly check whether the general conditions prevailing at the time the contract was concluded have changed. If these deteriorate or there is a risk of total failure, they inform risk management and initiate suitable countermeasures, such as adjusting the conditions or requesting (additional) collateral.
The credit analysis area is divided into segments that result from the type of borrower – for example banks, companies/corporates, states, retail, private customers. These differ so much in terms of lending criteria and legal and internal requirements that credit analysts specialize in certain types of customers or types of financing. They are all reliable and resilient. In the best case, they develop a certain feeling for possible payment defaults through targeted research and, of course, customer proximity.
As already outlined, credit analysts must comply with internal (risk limits) and external guidelines (Basel I – III, MaRisk) for lending. In addition, it is essential for them to follow innovations in both HGB and IFRS in order to be able to carry out a correct balance sheet analysis. Structural changes, such as those caused by Basel I – III, must be communicated to in-house IT in a timely manner. Ongoing digitization processes, ever-increasing amounts of data and various project work with agile working methods also require credit analysts to have a continuous training culture and the drive to keep their finger on the pulse – both in relation to the financial market and on the customer side.
Human instinct remains indispensable in credit analysis
With the help of digital and smart software solutions, a large number of manual working methods are no longer necessary. Fewer manual entries or reports mean a minimization of human errors and quantitative increases in efficiency.
In addition, the quality of the credit analysis increases: The significance of the ratings increases as a result of mass data processing. In addition, information about changed framework conditions or individual customer information is available more quickly and leads to more effective reaction options for the credit analysts.
Nonetheless, human instinct and empathy remain critical factors for credit analysts. Even the best software cannot assess the huge potential of a startup any more than the staying power of a family-run company that has been on the market for decades and has certainly survived a number of crises.
The most important things in 5 seconds
- Education: Degree in economics or training as a bank clerk with professional experience and specialist training
- Starting salary: €48,700
- Top salary: €90,000
- Opportunities for advancement: from team leader role to department head level of credit analysts to Chief Risk Officer (CRO) position
What does a credit analyst do?
- Analysis of credit requests
- Accompanying his colleague from the market area to customer meetings/negotiations in order to be able to better assess “soft” factors
- Creation of credit templates and financing indications and/or term sheets for customers
- Generation of customer ratings
- independent decisions within their own credit competence or the development of recommendations for action
- Recognizing/reacting to market, customer and property-related risk signals
- Administrative activities such as regular review of existing customer contracts, following up on missing documents and IT maintenance
- Participation in cross-departmental projects to improve existing structures and processes, introduction of new or further development of existing software
- If necessary, implementation of internal training courses for customer advisors on risk awareness or legal/internal innovations
- Internal contact for customer advisors, risk managers and external contact for customers, tax advisors and investors
How to become a credit analyst
After graduation, the classic path to credit analysis is via a trainee program. It is also possible to train as a bank clerk and appropriate professional experience, possibly with further training in the field of credit analysis.
Common requirements for credit analysts include:
- Completed studies in the field of finance or economics, preferably with participation in a trainee program and possibly initial professional experience in the banking environment, ideally in credit analysis and credit assessment
- or: Apprenticeship as a bank clerk with relevant professional experience and possibly further training in the field of credit analysis
- Knowledge of the relevant guidelines and laws (e.g. Basel, MaRisk, IFRS)
- EDP knowledge of bank-specific software and MS Office products, especially Excel
- Fluent written and spoken German and English
What Does a Credit Analyst Earn?
up to €90,000
Credit analysts earn a gross annual salary of between €48,700 and € 90,000. The biggest influencing factor is work experience. Because it increases both the credit volume for which you are responsible and the overall responsibility – and with it the salary level. In addition, as in every position, the size of the company, the structure, the degree of internationalization and the location also have an effect on the salary, as do individual negotiation skills and the current job market.
What do you expect from the credit analyst?
Credit analysts are very responsible people. They know about the risk of misjudgements and the possible consequences – both in financial terms and in relation to the reputation of their employer. You are dutiful and think very analytically and rationally. They also work in a very structured and organized manner.
Experienced credit analysts are able to extract information from balance sheets and financial statements and read between the lines. They look behind the facade of a company and use their ability to empathize to assess the so-called soft factors. They also have strong entrepreneurial thinking and problem-solving skills.
Business intelligence, digitization and globalization – these are all developments and factors that have either already affected the respective borrowers or will do so in the near future.
Credit analysts are therefore extremely resistant to stress and keep a cool head even in critical phases. You will work closely with risk managers and report to supervisors and management. Collegiality and the ability to create and deliver presentations round off the requirement profile.
Opportunities for advancement as a credit analyst
The classic career path leads credit analysts via team management to head of the credit analysis department. Due to the high level of responsibility and the high level of risk involved in the job profile, promotion to the position of Chief Risk Officer (CRO) of a company is also realistic.
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