In this article, we will discuss all the topics important on how to become a financial analyst with no experience.
Who Am I?
Joseph Ugwu, FMVA & CFI Graduate Surveillance and Investigations Analyst with cognate years of experience in capital market regulation, financial compliance, and stock market analysis, monitoring, and investigation.
I’ve been CFI and FMVA learner for quite a while.
Now, Let’ Get Started
Who Is A Financial Analyst?
There are myriads of descriptions for a financial analyst. Still, one which is encompassing, yet very simple, is the definition by the Corporate Finance Institute (CFI): The CFI defines a financial analyst as a professional who is responsible for collecting, analyzing, and interpreting financial data, as well as preparing reports, models, presentations, and recommendations for leaders of a business or clients.
A financial analyst can work in any professional niche/sector within the financial industry and work in non-finance sectors such as hospitals, oil and gas, the government, and law firms that may need the services of financial analysts.
The job of a financial analyst is a highly coveted one. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the job outlook for financial analysts is tremendously positive.
The field is expected to grow by 5 percent on average between 2019 and 2029, faster than the average for all other careers, with a median pay of $83,660 per annum. And besides the huge salary benefit, a financial analyst sees to gain.
It is a job role that has become a mainstay because the entire financial industry and even the government would collapse without the skills and knowledge of financial analysts.
As long as the government collects taxes, as long as individuals seek investment opportunities, and businesses continue to seek capabilities to make their fiscal activities all the more strategic, streamlined, and forward-thinking, financial analysts will continue to stay relevant.
We will discuss more on how to become a financial analyst with no experience in this article.
Who Can Become A Financial Analyst?
As businesses and the financial markets continue to experience significant growth and complexities, employers’ interest in highly skilled and qualified individuals who can perform financial analysis for their businesses and their clients has been rising.
An individual with zero experience who intends to become a financial analyst in such a complex industry but is unsure of what it entails should ensure that they have the required credentials such as a bachelor’s degree in accounting, business finance, banking and finance, economics, and actuarial sciences like mathematics and statistics.
Although it is recommended to start with a minimum of any of these degrees, it provides a stronger foundation for analyzing the workings of financial statements.
Most entry-level roles in the financial services industry accept individuals from other backgrounds such as engineering, sciences, and even legal, but with transferable skills such as numeracy, strong data-gathering, technological, problem-solving, quantitative, excellent communication, and analytical skills.
In addition to these, acquiring relevant training, certifications and licenses may be optional but equally highly recommended. Below are the necessary steps to take to become a financial analyst:
Steps To Become A Financial Analyst With No Experience:
Suppose helping businesses and investors raise capital and make sound financial and investment decisions via analyzing and modeling their financial statements, providing advisory services, valuing their stocks and bonds, and forecasting economic trends and strategies. In that case, a career as a financial analyst is your best bet.
While you can take different directions and paths to kick-start a financial analyst career in investment banking, trading, financial regulation, investment management, hedge funds, or in a rating agency, there are a few general steps expected of a typical analyst with zero experience.
Regardless of which route you want to take, below are the significant, necessary steps we recommend you take to become a financial analyst successfully:
1.Required Skills And Education A Financial Analyst Need:
I have already stated before this section the educational requirement to become a financial analyst, which includes but is not limited to having a minimum B.Sc degree in finance, accounting, economics, business administration, statistics, mathematics, and most science courses.
When recruiters and employees seek to align the required skills of their idle candidates intending to land jobs as financial analysts, they usually look for professionals with these traits/abilities:
Expert-level analytical and financial modeling skills:
- Strategic thinking
- Impeccable accounting skills
- Excellent communication skills
- Great presentation skills
- Problem-solving skills
- Ability to influence and persuade
- Practical knowledge of Microsoft office suite, especially Excel skills and related technologies
- Excellent leadership, time management, and organizational ability
- Ability to multitask and meet constant deadlines
- Willingness to work long hours, when necessary
2.Certification and Exams To Take For Beginners:
If you’re considering a career as a financial analyst in the financial services industry regardless of the specific field, besides the requisite skills and education, having a professional certification, in addition, can significantly increase your earning power, boost your credentials and reputation, and ability to deliver high-quality financial analysis.
One of the significant challenges career starters in the financial industry face in this regard is knowing the exact certification to take that will be of utmost benefit to their field, but the capability of funding most of the top finance certifications.
Below are some of the certifications and designations for any professional looking to advance their career as a certified financial analyst
- Financial Modeling and Valuation Analyst: Knowing the core skills and competencies employers require from financial analysts, it is evident that the FMVA program has been built by financial experts who know the exact skills employers are looking for.
And this is why their curriculum is not only engaging and robust but highly streamlined to enhance the learning process required to become an outstanding financial analyst. In addition, it is highly affordable. Go through this FMVA Review by graduate to get a better idea.
2. Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) Certification: The CFA designation is awarded by the CFA Institute and is regarded as one of the most valued and highly sought-after certifications by finance professionals worldwide. It consists of three levels and takes about 2 to 4 years on average to complete all 3 levels.
Completing this certification and earning your designation requires a minimum of three years’ hands-on experience, and it demonstrates a certain level of intelligence and a strong work ethic.
While it will make your application attractive to most employers, the challenges in being a CFA charter holder are the difficulty in earning it and the cost implication, especially for beginners.
The CFA costs about $3,500 to $5,000 on average (passing all levels at once). But the good news is that the CFA Institute has its CFA Institute Investment Foundations Program, which is free.
The CFA Institute Investment Foundations Program covers the essentials of finance, ethics, and investment roles, providing a clear understanding of the global investment industry.
This online learning experience is designed for institutions, including regulators and universities, with staff or students who wish to enter, advance in, or understand the investment management industry.
3. Certified Financial Planner (CFP) Certification: Certified financial planners are well-versed in topics across the economic field. They assess their clients’ entire financial portfolio and then provide personalized financial plans.
To become a CFP, a professional must complete a set of courses, then pass a seven-hour test. The CFP Board administers the test. The pass rate is below 70%. If you work with financial planners with a CFP, you know they know their stuff!
4. Certified Public Accountant (CPA): The CPA designations is also one of the top certifications in the financial services industry in the world. Accountants with the CPA designation can perform various tasks while earning a high income, preparing taxes, and representing clients who must report to the IFRS.
This certification is administered by the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA). It requires 150 hours of coursework and then passing a rigorous exam. A CPA can be helpful for those looking for financial advice regarding reducing taxes and organizing investments.
There is a popular saying that “Investment in knowledge pays the best interest.” I believe this is true for the CFI FMVA certification because the program is worth every single cent paid and every second spent gaining this certification. It is indeed a program for students who want to be world-class financial analysts.
You can also go through this Corporate finance institute review written by a graduate
In conclusion, it is essential to understand and consider your specialization of interest, your budget, and seek your employer’s advice on the same certification to go for that will be more relevant to your job role boost your chances of landing your first job.
Besides the paid certifications listed above, many online learning platforms and course providers like Coursera, Udemy, and edX can leverage to boost one’s knowledge and skills in finance and earn free certifications.
In the next topic of how to become a financial analyst with no experience, we will discuss job opportunities that will open.
Also Read: CFI Vs Wall Street Prep
Job Opportunities After Course and Types of FMVA Positions:
Financial analysts without experience but with additional relevant certifications or with the FMVA certification have higher chances of kick-starting their careers in different financial industries. Again, this list is not exhaustive, but it at least captures most of the sectors:
- Financial Planning & Analysis (FP&A)
- Investment Banking.
- Private Equity.
- Corporate Development.
- Commercial and Mortgage Banks
- Pension funds
- Insurance companies
- Equity Research.
- And Others.
Working Hard On Financial Skills And Networking:
Despite the age-old argument about the idea that landing your first entry-level job offer or even landing a new job offer (for the experienced candidates) in the finance industry is mostly a factor of how relevant and attractive your credentials, skills, knowledge, and competencies are, and much less about who you know.
networking will always have a significant role to play for entry-level job seekers. While it is highly pertinent to build and improve one’s skills and credentials, it is interesting to know that a survey carried out by The U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics in 2020 concludes that about 85 percent of jobs are filled by networking.
So, if you are looking for a spot on the client roster, remember the tip that many positions are filled before or correct when they are posted; and that’s because of networking.
The fact is that the financial sector is filled with brilliant talent, making it a highly competitive job market beyond skills. Sometimes, and maybe most times, it isn’t what you know; it’s who you know.
Having stated that, the ultimate question now would be how best can intending financial analysts go about their networking business? To that end, I have put together a few tips and clues dedicated specifically to effective and efficient networking in the financial industry:
- Meet and engage with other professionals or intending analysts who may become your peers or mentors by joining relevant organizations and associations and attending graduate school events, industry-related events, and even organized by other industries.
This variety of events is a great way to build useful relations that will expose you to potential clients, employers, and future colleagues who may be willing to offer you that golden opportunity. Or it may even be as simple as just learning new things and staying up to date on industry trends.
- Leverage the power of social media. As the world gets more digitalized, and as the interconnectedness of the world gains traction due to the power of social media, it is criminal not to build quality networks online.
Popular career sites like LinkedIn, Twitter, Meetup, Community Forums, etc., are excellent for connecting with like-minded individuals, especially when it comes to online networking.
It’s an easy way of literally and actively “connecting and engaging” with anyone you are interested in knowing. It helps you stay up to date on events and participate in the conversations online surrounding your industry.
- Leverage your relationships. Sometimes, the golden opportunity we may be waiting or looking for does not have to come from a distance. Personal relationships with friends and family are also great opportunities to secure a job or interview, or at least, they can help us contact the right people.
- Send those well-crafted cold mails and make those intelligent cold calls. This is a dicey one for most fresh graduates, especially those who do not have great communication skills and email etiquette.
While I must advise that one should ensure they send powerful emails that will stand out from the hundreds and thousands of mails most C-suit executives in the financial sector receive daily, attempting does not mean that attempting does not have to be highly skilled or perfect at sending cold emails.
Nevertheless, you must craft well-written emails and practice your telephone communication skills, as this will improve your chances of getting positive feedback.
- Always remember to follow up. You never can tell what a kind reminder would do for you.
How is FMVA Program BY CFI?
It is important to note that there are myriad learning opportunities out there that one can maximize to boost one’s credentials and career prospects in the financial services industry to become a world-class financial analyst and close the skill gap between theoretical and practical knowledge.
But it is almost impossible to find any relevant professional certificate or a certifying body as convenient, comprehensive, reputable, affordable, and highly practical as the CFI’s FMVA certification.
The CFI FMVA certification comes highly recommended, and I must say that it is a perfect certification for intending financial analysts without experience.
I recommend this program to any finance/accounting student and other graduates without a finance or accounting background who wish to become a world-class financial analyst and gain incredible financial modeling and valuation knowledge.
The FMVA is recommended for intending financial analysts and finance professional who is conscious about efficiency and effectiveness in their continuous professional development journey.
In conclusion, it is important to take a holistic approach when implementing the recommendations on how to become a financial analyst with no experience.
But one salient point to note is that actively seeking internship positions before gaining a full-time entry-level job would be immensely beneficial.
Future analysts should also consider the CFI’s Financial Modeling & Valuation Analyst (FMVA)® certification program. This will give them the practical Excel, strategic, finance, and accounting skills they will need to get hired full-time.
Generally, it takes 4-5 months [100-200 hours] to complete the course
In some courses yes, but not in FMVA
According to me, CFI is the best and affordable to learn financial modeling
The average pass rate is 50%.