This guide is all about what it takes to become an investment analyst, including investment analyst degree options and career pathways.
Investment analysts are Wall Street’s number crunchers. They pore over financial reports and public filings, attend industry conferences, and consult with various sources to gather information about specific industries. Using this data, they build financial models, provide research reports and make recommendations to their clients about whether to buy, sell or hold certain stocks.
With the rise of big data and artificial intelligence, the role of investment analysts has become increasingly sophisticated. “Quantitative” or “algorithmic” investment analysts now use cutting-edge software to identify patterns and make predictions about the future movements of the markets.
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Many analysts also use artificial intelligence and machine learning to conduct their operations, which has allowed them to scale their research and develop more comprehensive models.
Whether you’re just starting in your career or looking to make a change, becoming an investment analyst can be a smart move. It’s a challenging and rewarding field, and there are several ways to break into it.
In this guide, we’ll go over what the job entails, the skills you need to succeed, and how to get started on becoming an investment analyst. Enjoy the ride!
What is an Investment Analyst?
An investment analyst is someone who researches and analyzes potential investments. They conduct research and analysis on stocks, bonds, commodities, and other assets and then provide recommendations to their clients about whether to buy, sell, or hold those assets.
To effectively execute their operations, these money gurus must have a deep understanding of financial markets and the factors that drive them. They’re also experts at identifying and interpreting patterns in data, building financial models, and making sound recommendations based on their findings.
While the job might sound like it’s all number-crunching and mind-numbing analysis, it’s much more than that. Investment analysts are constantly trying to stay ahead of the curve by keeping up with industry news, attending conferences, and networking with other professionals.
The best analysts always think outside the box — uncovering new information and developing innovative ways to beat the market. They’re always on the hunt for the next big lead, like detectives.
When it comes to communicating (both in writing and in-person), investment analysts top the chart. After all, they’re constantly pitching their research and recommendations to clients, colleagues, and superiors.
They must be able to articulate their investment thesis clearly and provide convincing arguments to support their position.
Many firms now use artificial intelligence and machine learning to scale their investment operations in today’s technology-driven world. Research reconducted by CFA Institute in 2022 revealed that trust in financial services is at an all-time high. And among the five factors responsible for driving higher trust in financial services, the increased use of technology is the most important.
Eighty-seven percent of institutional investors and 50 percent of retail investors say that technology has increased their trust in the industry. Its benefits include improved accuracy, transparency, simplified access to markets and products, timeliness of data, and personalization.
This research confirms what we already know — technology has transformed the financial services industry, and investment analysts are at the forefront of this revolution.
How to Become an Investment Analyst?
If you’re interested in becoming an investment analyst, you can take a few different paths.
The most common route is to get a degree in Economics, Finance, or a related field from an accredited university. Many investment analysts also have an MBA or master’s degree in Finance. Since the profession requires excellent analytical and research skills, a degree in mathematics, statistics, or computer science can also be helpful.
In clearer terms, some of the most popular degrees and certifications for investment analysts include:
- Bachelor’s degree in Economics
- Bachelor’s degree in Finance
- Bachelor’s degree in Mathematics
- Bachelor’s degree in Statistics
- Master’s degree in Business Administration (MBA)
- Master’s degree in Financial Engineering
- Master’s degree in Economics
- Ph.D. in Economics
- Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA)
- Certified Public Accountant (CPA)
Several boot camps, online courses, and certifications are available to help you break into the industry. The most popular ones include:
- Coding Bootcamps
- Data Science Bootcamps
- Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning Bootcamps
- Financial Modeling Bootcamps
- Investment Banking Bootcamps
Online course platforms like Coursera and Udemy offer flexible learning options for those who want to learn at their own pace. And if you’re looking to get certified, the CFA Institute offers the globally recognized Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) program.
Once you have your degree, the next step is to get some experience under your belt. You can start your career as a research analyst, financial analyst, or even an intern at a financial institution. This is a great way to get your foot in the door and learn the ropes from more experienced professionals.
Other steps you can take to become an investment analyst are:
- Join professional organizations like the Chartered Financial Analyst Institute (CFA Institute).
- Get involved in industry-related events and conferences.
- Read industry-related news and publications.
- Get involved in your community by volunteering for financial literacy programs or serving on the board of a non-profit organization.
- Network with other professionals in the industry.
- Read industry publications and stay up-to-date on the latest news and trends.
Investment Analyst Job Description
At its core, an investment analyst is responsible for conducting research and analysis on potential investments, making recommendations to clients, and executing trades.
The day-to-day responsibilities of an investment analyst on a typical job board might look something like this:
- Researching potential investments and providing recommendations to clients or firm management
- Analyzing financial statements, economic indicators, and other data to evaluate the performance of potential investments
- Constructing financial models to forecast the future performance of investments
- Monitoring the performance of existing investments and providing recommendations for buy, hold, or sell decisions
- Executing trades on behalf of clients or firm management
- Preparing reports on the performance of investments
- Giving presentations to clients or firm management on investment recommendations
- Maintaining knowledge of economic trends, market conditions, and government regulations that might impact investments
The responsibilities of an investment analyst can vary depending on the firm’s size, the type of clients they work with, and the investment strategies employed. For example, some analysts may focus exclusively on researching and recommending stocks, while others may also trade bonds, commodities, and other investment instruments.
These finance gurus typically start their careers in a financial institution’s research or trading department, working their way up the ladder as they gain experience and knowledge. Many eventually become portfolio managers, financial advisors, or even CEOs of their firms.
With the rise of the internet and mobile technologies, more and more jobs are becoming remote-friendly. And investment analysts’ roles are no exception.
Job boards like Indeed and Linkedin have plenty of remote-friendly investment analyst roles. Many investment analysts work remotely from home or in a coworking space. And as long as you have a laptop and an internet connection, you can work from anywhere.
The salary of an investment analyst can vary depending on several factors, including experience, education, location, and the size of the firm.
According to Glassdoor, the national average salary for an investment analyst is $75,569 per year.
PayScale reports that investment analysts with one to four years of experience earn an average salary of $65,566 per year, while those with 5-9 years of experience earn an average salary of $82,484 per year.
Most investment analyst roles are based in major financial hubs like New York City, Chicago, and San Francisco. But, with the possibility of remote working, there are plenty of opportunities for investment analysts to work from anywhere in the world.
Some of the biggest employers of investment analysts include banks, hedge funds, and asset management firms. And major companies that hire investment analysts include J.P. Morgan, Goldman Sachs, and BlackRock.
What Does an Investment Analyst Do?
So what does an investment analyst do? Let’s take a closer look at the day-to-day responsibilities of this Finance professional.
- Research potential investments and provide recommendations to clients or firm management. It all starts with research. Investment analysts are always on the lookout for new opportunities. They research potential investments and analyze various data to determine whether or not an investment is a good fit. After all, no one wants to put their money into something that will not perform well. Once they’ve gathered all the necessary information, they provide recommendations to clients or firm management.
- Maintain knowledge of economic trends, market conditions, and government regulations. Investment analysts need to stay up-to-date on the latest economic trends, market conditions, and government regulations. Why? Because these factors have a significant impact on investment decisions. For example, let’s say you’re an analyst who specializes in stocks. You’ve been watching a particular company for a while, and you think it’s an excellent time to buy. But, suddenly, the stock market crashes, and the company’s stock plummets. What do you do? If you’re not familiar with the current market conditions, you might make a rash decision and sell the stock, only to watch it rebound soon. But, by keeping up-to-date with the latest market news and trends, you may have been able to weather the storm and come out ahead.
- Build financial models to forecast future market trends Investment analysts use financial models to predict future market trends. To create these models, they gather data on past market performance, economic trends, and other relevant information. Once the models are built, analysts use them to make informed investment decisions.
- Monitor investments and provide updates to clients. Investment analysts don’t just make recommendations and then forget about them. They continuously monitor the investments and provide updates to clients. This way, the client knows how their investment is performing and can make changes if necessary.
- Prepare reports and presentations. Investment analysts spend a lot of their time preparing reports and presentations. Based on their research, they put together detailed reports that outline their findings and recommendations. And when called upon, they give presentations to clients and firm management, explaining their investment thesis and providing supporting data.
Investment analysts are in the engine room of decision-making. Without their due diligence, analysis, and recommendations, many financial institutions would be flying blind.
Investment Analyst Qualifications
There is no one-size-fits-all answer regarding the qualifications needed to become an investment analyst. But some of the most common requirements include:
- A bachelor’s degree in Finance, economics, accounting, or a related field
- 1-3 years of experience working in the financial industry
- Strong analytical and problem-solving skills
- Excellent communication and presentation skills
- Proficiency in Microsoft Office, especially Excel
- Familiarity with financial modeling
- The ability to work well under pressure and meet deadlines
In some cases, a master’s degree in business administration (MBA) or a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) designation may be required or preferred.
So, there you have it: a complete guide to the investment analyst career.
If you’re looking for a challenging and rewarding career in the financial industry, then the role of an investment analyst might be a perfect fit for you. Remember to stay up-to-date on the latest market trends, brush up on your financial modeling skills, and always be prepared to give an excellent presentation.