Certified Financial Analyst Career Info and Job Duties

A certified financial analyst advises and guides businesses and individuals in investment decisions. Analysts usually work for banks, investment houses, insurance companies and pension funds. In order to receive the formal Chartered Financial Analyst designation, financial analysts must complete formal education, work for several years and pass a 3-part exam.

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Certified Financial Analyst Career Information

Educational Requirements

A financial analyst needs a bachelor's degree for an entry-level position. Degrees may be in finance, business administration or economics. However, many employers are now seeking analysts with a master's degree, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov). The BLS also reports that experience can often be a bigger advantage than formal education. Institutions typically promote employees with an excellent track record within the organization.


Financial analysts become certified through the Association of Investment Management and Research (www.cfainstitute.org). The Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) program is a preparatory program that prepares a student to take a 3-part examination and is based on the Candidate Body of Knowledge (CBOK). Analysts receive preparation materials from the CFA Institute and study independently. Successfully completing the examination earns the graduate the designation of Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA).

The association also offers a certificate in investment performance measurement (CIPM) that is recognized globally. The program focuses on investment performance evaluation and is the only designation of its kind in the industry. Applicants study and pass two examinations to earn the designation of CIPM. Students must meet the ethical and professional requirements of the program.

Job Duties

The main goal of a certified financial analyst is to make decisions about companies, stocks and industries for the purpose of making money for a corporation or individual. CFAs track the performance of stocks and collect the data in a spreadsheet that can be interpreted by a stockbroker or client.

CFAs also help individuals to make sound investment decisions for both short-term and long-term goals. For example, they work with individuals to determine the best time to sell a home.

Some CFAs work for banks or insurance companies. They help companies promote financial products or services. Services or products might be individual retirement accounts (IRAs), insurance policies or tax shelters.

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