Financial analysis is a very lucrative field but might seem quite intimidating to some. By learning the right skills and building a strong foundation in finance, you can steadily make your way to becoming a financial analyst with ease.
A short period such as this is not enough for understanding financial principles and the basics of accounting as well as prepare yourself for job interviews. There are also many technologies and tools that financial analysts must be able to use.
A role such as a financial analyst requires you to prepare profit plans and financial models while helping your employer and clients identify good and bad business ventures. Financial analysts must also have great interpersonal and business communication skills as they need to constantly be in touch with stakeholders, investors, and valuable clients. When in the shoes of a financial analyst, you must also collaborate with the project heads and finance departments of your employer.
You must also focus on various statistical and financial techniques so that you can carry out the analysis of assets, projects, investments, and other kinds of financial performance. Financial analysts are also expected to help identify patterns and trends as well as support decision-makers when it comes to financial decisions.
A realistic estimation would be 6 months with at least 15 hours of learning every week. Along with this, you would also need another few days or weeks to prepare yourself to give interviews for financial analyst roles. Attending career guidance sessions and workshops are also recommended for preparing yourself, without which, it is very hard to bag good roles. Good financial analyst courses also offer career assistance.
Financial analysts can help in optimizing the financial performance of their clients and employers through data-driven means. It is not essential to know coding to become financial analytics, however, having skills in VBA or Visual Basic for Applications do help. A good financial analysis course would cover VBA.
Other than this, there is no need to code for financial analysts unless you are a statistician who is involved with core statistical tasks in RStudio with R, the programming language specifically built for statistics. R is not really necessary to learn but tools such as Microsoft Excel absolutely are. Microsoft Excel allows you to use various mathematical and statistical techniques on data as well as build financial reports and visualizations.
How to Become a Financial Analyst
1. Learn technical and organizational skills
Even though you can learn most technical skills from courses for financial analyst roles, you must still hone your problem-solving and logical thinking skills. You should also ensure that you sharpen your business communication and collaboration skills. Teamwork is essential for financial analysts as the role involves communicating with a variety of internal and external stakeholders, such as clients and representatives.
Financial analysts must have management and leadership skills while having a good sense of time management. The role of a financial analyst is a very important one inside an organization and thus, even as a fresher, you are expected to be job-ready.
2. Enroll in an online certification
Enrolling in a specialized financial analysis course will help you learn the skills required for financial analysts job roles such as financial accounting, banking, credit analytics, and risk management. There are finance courses in India that teach accounting and financial principles but do not cover analytics and various tools for modern financial analysis.
However, a specialization course such as the Certificate Program in Financial Analysis, Valuation & Risk Management will get you job-ready in no time. The program will fetch you an industry-recognized certificate that will validate your skills and qualification to your employers. The certification also covers equities, trading, credit, and regulation.
More than anything, learning from industry experts goes a long way in helping you achieve your goals faster.
3. Get involved with projects and internships
There is nothing better than learning from real-world projects as it makes you capable of handling tasks as soon as you are hired. Getting involved with interesting and relevant projects also helps intrigue your interviewers, allowing you a better opportunity to ace your interview. Theoretical knowledge is great, but you will not have the confidence to apply it in your job without first practising with the help of projects.
Like projects, internships also help you sharpen your practical skills in a real office or working environment. Unlike projects, you will be supervised by seniors in the company or your employer. Internships also help you understand what it feels like to have important responsibilities in an organization and prepare you for the sensitive domain of finance.
Financial data is extremely valuable, and internships allow you to learn how to handle such data. Internships also help you learn a few necessary job-specific skills that cannot be covered in courses as each company has its own set of processes. Internships can even help you in increasing your network and find more job opportunities in the future.
4. Build a solid resume
Building a good CV is essential for securing a good financial analyst role. The job of a financial analyst is a highly coveted one, and companies only select the sharpest profiles they can find. In order to impress your future employers, you should create a professional resume that is great to look at and match what the recruiters for such roles are looking for.
However, your credentials, certification, and skills should all be properly organized alongside your projects and internships. Having a certification from a reputed institute on your resume and participating in multiple projects do increase your chances of being hired.
You should also mention your educational qualification, interests, and other awards or recognitions that you have achieved.
5. Prepare for job interviews
When preparing for job interviews, you must take 3 things into consideration - your technical abilities, your communication skills, and how you present yourself.
Why technical abilities? This is because interviewers might ask you about your projects or ask you about financial principles and analysis techniques. There are also online and written assignments that you must clear in order to be selected for the interviews.
Alongside technical skills, communication skills are also extremely crucial as you must impress your interviewers with your presence. Confidence plays a key role in demonstrating your ability to work in a fast and professional workplace setting.
Even if the interview is online, rather than at the office, you should still take an effort to dress well and keep yourself neat and tidy for the meeting.
Before applying to interviews, practice answering common HR interview questions such as:
- Where do you see yourself in the next 5 years?
- Why do you want to be a financial analyst?
- What do you know about this company?
- Why do you want to join the finance sector?
- Tell us about yourself.
- How do you feel about your old colleagues and company? (if you are experienced)
- What are a few negative things about the finance industry?
- What are your biggest strengths?
- What are your biggest failures?
- What would be your weaknesses?
- Are you comfortable with relocating and rotational shifts?
- What are you looking for in your career and what are your ambitions?
Some questions asked during interviews are trick questions, and thus, you should be professional and avoid bad-mouthing your previous employers and managers.
It is wise to not say anything explicitly negative about the sector or the job role, even if asked to do so. While you can address the concerns you see, it is best to talk about interesting things that can happen in the future that you are looking forward to. Before your interview, you must research the company you are applying to and the job role so that you are fully aware of what the job entails.
6. Stay updated with the latest industry trends
It is absolutely necessary to stay updated with the latest trends and technologies in the sector. New advancements are being made, and innovations are being introduced every month. Thus, if you wish to stay ahead of the competition, then you must always be up to date with the activities and best practices in finance and financial analytics.
There are also many rules and regulations that are important for financial analysts, risk managers, and bankers to know. Many rules and protocols also change with time, and thus, it is even more important to check up on new bills related to financial procedures and transactions that are passed in your country.
It is also recommended you follow the market (sector of interest, stocks, new IPOs, etc.) so that you can help your employers and clients make good investments and profitable business decisions.
7. Read good books on financial analysis
For gaining some additional knowledge and an in-depth understanding of the various topics related to financial analysis, here are some books that you can definitely check out:
- Financial Analysis, Planning & Forecasting: Theory and Application by Alice C. Lee, Cheng F Lee, and John C. Lee
- The Essentials of Financial Analysis by Samuel C. Weaver
- Techniques of Financial Analysis by Erich A. Helfert
- Financial Statement Analysis: A Practitioner's Guide by Fernando Alvarez and Martin Fridson
- Financial Planning & Analysis and Performance Management by Jack Alexander
- Technical Analysis of the Financial Markets: A Comprehensive Guide to Trading Methods and Applications by John J. Murphy
The demand for financial analysts is only growing with time, and employers are in dire need of skilled professionals in this field to help them in optimizing their business performance and churn out the highest profit from their investments. Financial analysts conduct the analysis of financial data, prepare reports, and make predictions for the benefit of their clients and teams. Thus, knowing various important skills such as reading financial statements and being able to use statistical modelling techniques is essential.
The financial analyst career path in India is a very promising one, and if you take the right steps, then you can enjoy a lot of prospects and opportunities in this domain. Financial analysts also enjoy great salaries.
If you wish to understand what financial analysis is and learn the relevant skills, then you can check out Hero Vired’s Financial Analysis Program. The program features all the important technologies and topics that will help you become a financial analyst, and even offers career assistance.
You will learn technologies such as Microsoft Excel and VBA for carrying out technical work as well as core accounting principles and financial topics. This is also a great program if you wish to become a Risk Manager or a Credit Analyst.