Positions in Demand: The Financial Analyst


A robust economy brings especially good news, if you’re a financial analyst. You can look forward to a vibrant hiring market and rising compensation this year. In fact, your job prospects look good right through 2022. according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

What’s driving demand?

Financial analysts are responsible for researching market conditions, likely returns from market opportunities and the possible impact on the business. Whatever stimulates business activity is likely to drive demand for financial analysts. This includes:

  • Market expansion: Businesses need data to evaluate the costs of entering a growing segment and the potential payoff. They also need to understand the cost of foregoing other projects.

  • Market disruption: Anything that upends conventional wisdom or opens a whole new avenue of opportunity generates executive demand for data and insights. For example, collapsing oil prices, healthcare reform or the Internet of Things.

  • Globalization: Today’s falling barriers to trade create opportunities for expansion into new areas of the world. Demand for financial analysts with insights into emerging markets is especially intense.

  • Digitalization: Industries are being revolutionized by innovations in supply chain management, new ways of forecasting buyer behavior and the rapid penetration of e-commerce and mobile commerce into brick-and-mortar businesses. Financial analysts with backgrounds in technology are likely to see a strong market for their skills, along with opportunities to grow into strategic roles closer to the enterprise C-suite.

What skills are required?

Analysts tend to have backgrounds in finance or accounting, with strength in mathematics. Successful analysts can expect to become power users of advanced number-crunching, analytics, forecasting and reporting technologies, such as XBRL (eXtensible Business Reporting Language) or enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems. Applicants who already have these skills will have a competitive edge.

Possessing outstanding communication skills makes a prospective financial analyst much more competitive in the job market, as executives who rely on financial analysis are pressed for time and expect crisp, incisive reports.

What does this mean for salaries?

This year’s starting salaries for financial analysts are expected to be 4.1 to 4.4 percent higher than last year’s (and even higher in some markets), according to the 2015 Salary Guide from Robert Half. However, the increases depend on such factors as the size of the company, the job’s geographic location and the applicant’s level of experience. You can use our Salary Calculator to examine specific salaries in your city. Or check out the Salary Guide’s hiring trends section to see which positions are in demand in your region.

How are you preparing to succeed in a financial analyst job and in other positions in demand? Share your ideas in the comments.