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What is a Financial Analyst?
On the one hand, financial analysts work within companies, where they are responsible for analyzing all of their own company’s financial data, including current and planned financial assets and investments. They are hereinafter referred to as “internal financial analysts”. On the other hand, there are financial analysts in the financial sector, e.g. B. at banks, insurance companies and investment companies. These – hereinafter referred to as “company-external financial analysts” – advise external customers there, but also internal departments that deal with the investment of funds entrusted to them.
In-house financial analysts are experts who know and examine all current financially relevant data of their company, analyze the performance of the financial and investment areas and investments, derive conclusions to improve the situation and optimize portfolios, recommend investment strategies and carry out measures for implementation. They are responsible for the objective evaluation of their company vis-à-vis stakeholders and other third parties, but they also collect information about the market and their competitors, possibly supported by banks and other specialists.
External financial analysts, on the other hand, work in and for companies that are looking for investment opportunities and portfolio optimization for themselves or others. Essentially, these are insurance companies and banks, investment companies or authorities. In the insurance industry, for example, they sound out investment opportunities for pension funds, in banks they analyze markets and companies in order to advise bank customers on M&A activities or to offer them investments in the form of shares, derivatives, etc. They recommend investments to internal and external customers in accordance with the respective investment strategy.
Financial analysts can also work as “independent consultants for companies or private individuals” with regard to the investment of assets.
A change from the financial sector to a company or vice versa is usually possible without further ado.
The most important things in 5 seconds
- Education: Studies in economics with a focus on balance sheets, banking/computer science, controlling, strategic management or a comparable non-university training path; several years of work experience
- Starting salary: €40,000
- Top salary: €122,000
- Opportunities for advancement: Takeover of a line function / advancement within the finance department
In-house financial analysts know the financial position of their company down to the last detail
Companies can only plan measures if they know where they stand. What sounds banal is a highly complex matter in the financial reality of a large company – management decisions without a solid basis can have far-reaching negative consequences.
First of all, for in-house financial analysts, the accuracy and regularity of their own company’s financial data is important: is it collected correctly, is it reliable and meaningful, and does it withstand verification by internal and external bodies if necessary?
Tracking cash flows, recognizing deviations from plan and their causes and evaluating them are another essential aspect of their tasks. To do this, you use the entire spectrum of computer-aided analyzes – a high level of IT and number affinity are therefore basic requirements for performing this function. Nevertheless, there is of course room and necessity for personal interpretations of the data. These are usually discussed with management in order to then jointly consider what measures need to be taken to avoid risks or seize opportunities.
Loans and lines of credit taken out and given also influence the financial situation of a company. In-house financial analysts follow their development, are always up to date and are always ready to provide well-founded information.
In addition, there is the analysis and evaluation of investments and investment opportunities, such as those carried out by financial analysts in the financial sector and as described below.
Analysis, interpretation, evaluation and a holistic view are the core tasks of all financial analysts
If banks, insurance companies, fund management companies or other companies in the financial sector want to hold or acquire shares in companies, they must find out about the current financial situation of these companies and their development potential and future prospects. The same is true for financial advisory firms that advise entrepreneurs or wealthy individuals: before and during an investment, they need to receive a valuation that guides their decision to invest or not, or to “hold or sell” the investment.
The task of financial analysts is to analyze the company’s situation and to make a recommendation by analyzing the existing data on companies in connection with data on the respective markets. This recommendation also includes the investment strategy defined by the investor or worked out together with him.
For their work, they use the “classic” financial methods and instruments of balance sheet analysis as well as programs with which they can “play through” and evaluate different scenarios from individual companies to portfolio analysis.
You bear a great deal of responsibility – both towards your own company and the companies analyzed, as well as towards the investors. Mistakes can have serious consequences, e.g. B. good investments are omitted or bad investments are made.
Additional training and certificates are a must
The objectivity of financial analyzes is the basis for well-founded decisions. Depending on their focus, financial analysts therefore require special (industry) expertise and strengthen their credibility through certificates (CFA, CIIA) and through membership in recognized national and international professional organizations such as the DVFA (German Association for Financial Analysis and Asset Management) or the EFFAS ( European Federation of Financial Analyst Societies). Their assessments must be neutral, and from an ethical point of view they are subject to the same requirements as lawyers, accountants and accountants.
What does a financial analyst do?
One of the main tasks of in-house financial analysts is
- to be constantly up-to-date on the financial situation of the company
- Recognizing and analyzing deviations from the plan and evaluating the effects
- To make forecasts about the financial situation, to point out possibilities and risks and to recommend measures to optimize the situation – taking advantage of opportunities and averting danger
- Continuously optimize recording and reporting
- advising management on budget and investment planning, helping to shape plans and checking target figures
- evaluate and improve stocks of securities and portfolios
- Make investment and investment recommendations
- Maintaining contact with stakeholders (investors, banks, fund management)
- ensure that measures to be taken are in line with the financial strategy and compliance guidelines
One of the main tasks of external financial analysts is to support decisions about investments and investments by
- Carry out value and balance sheet analyses
- Analyze market and competitor data
- Create and evaluate development models for companies, industries, markets and trends
- Accompany and, if necessary, lead IPOs and M&A activities
How to become a financial analyst
The training for financial analysts – whether for a job as a financial analyst in companies or in the financial sector – is largely identical.
A degree in economics with a relevant focus such as balance sheets, banking/computer science, controlling and strategic management is usually a prerequisite, but a comparable non-university training path is also possible.
Additional qualifications (e.g. CFA, CIIA) should be acquired alongside studies or during the first years of work.
Depending on the company, several years of professional experience are required before financial analysts can act independently.
What does a Financial Analyst earn?
up to €122,000
Salaries vary greatly depending on company size, industry and location. In some cases, they are supplemented by success-related components.
What do you expect from the financial analyst?
- Profound knowledge of balance sheet and accounting
- Understanding of economic relationships and (capital) markets
- Numerical affinity and analytical thinking
- Systematic, structured way of working
- Confidence in dealing with Excel, SAP FI, PowerPoint
- Communication and presentation skills
- Ability to make objective and unbiased assessments and evaluations
- English fluent in spoken and written
Opportunities for advancement as a financial analyst
Financial analysts in companies or corporations can rise to the position of CFO, possibly via positions such as group financial analyst, portfolio manager or controller.
Financial analysts in the financial sector can develop into highly paid specialists by acquiring industry knowledge (automotive, pharmaceuticals, etc.) and, with the appropriate experience, can lead teams and departments within banks and investment companies.
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