A financial analyst career affords great opportunity and potential career growth. However, success does come with challenges. There are fewer positions available when compared to accounting roles, so competition for advancement can be stiff.
Professionals seeking a career in finance should chart their path early and stay on task. Here’s a basic roadmap that focuses on the fundamentals of education and experience.
Financial Analysts Need Education
A solid foundation for aspiring financial analysts begins with education. A bachelor’s degree in accounting, finance, economics, mathematics, or statistics is mandatory. Further degrees and licenses are often helpful for career advancement, such as an MBA, CFA, or CPA.
When considering advanced degrees and licenses, it’s good to note the differences between accounting and finance. CPA licenses may be earned by both types of professionals. However, financial analysts will typically benefit more from a CFA.
MBAs are rather important degrees for financial analysts who wish to land director-level or CFO roles. In fact, a recent study shows 54 percent of CFOs at Fortune 100 companies have an MBA. One benefit of earning an MBA is that it allows finance professionals to broaden their educational horizons in ways that can actually be more advantageous in the C-suite (e.g., focus on marketing).
While proper education is a prerequisite for anyone seeking a financial analyst position, there’s no substitute for experience when it comes to career advancement. A typical trajectory in finance may include positions such as Senior Financial Analyst, Finance Manager, and Director of Finance. For most, the ultimate goal is becoming the CFO of a large corporation.
Finance professionals must remember that each of these positions may require several years of tenure before progressing to the next level. Time alone isn’t sufficient. Advancement opportunities will come when financial analysts make the most of each role by assuming leadership roles and innovating processes.
Ultimately, the higher up the ladder one climbs, the more important it is that they boast broad business experience. Most successful CFOs, for example, have previously served in non-finance roles ranging from marketing to human resources. The value of a diverse background is highly appreciated in today’s business climate.
Anyone currently working as a financial analyst, or on track to becoming one, is certainly in a good spot professionally. The career is very rewarding and affords many opportunities. However, financial analysts still face challenges and competition when trying to climb the corporate ladder.
Those who focus on continuing their education and broadening their work experience are most likely to gain a coveted position at the top. If you’re a financial analyst or accountant seeking a new opportunity, you should also consult with a great recruiting firm!
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