The required skill set of a financial analyst can range from the ability to use sophisticated accounting software to having good communication and interpersonal skills. Financial analysts may also need a combination of unique skills to their field to perform their job duties as well as generalized skills that can be an essential part of any career path.
Financial analyst skills can include a combination of hard skills and soft skills. Generally, financial analysts need technology, software and mathematical skills in addition to analytical, problem-solving, communication and interpersonal skills. When hiring a financial analyst for their firm, employers might require the following skill sets:
1. Accounting skills - Accounting skills may encompass the general knowledge you might be required to have to work effectively in finance. General accounting skills may include knowledge of accounting principles, standards and techniques, as well as calculating budgets, cost analysis and reduction, managing cash flow and a general ledger, reconciling bank statements, and basic knowledge of accounting programs and the mathematical formulas involved in these calculations.
2. Interpersonal skills - This skill set refers to a soft skill that can be generalized for most career paths, however, it can prove to be a very crucial aspect of skill development in a financial career. Financial analysts may possess interpersonal skills that aid them when interacting with colleagues and investors, when interpreting nonverbal communication cues and presenting projects as well as collaborating with teammates on analytical tasks.
3. Communication skills - Financial analysts should also possess communication skills, as these skills can directly influence interpersonal skills. Effective communication as a financial analyst can mean being direct when sending emails, leaving phone messages, speaking to an investor about important financial information and utilizing nonverbal communication to navigating professional and working relationships.
4. Problem-solving skills - Financial analysts are also problem-solvers. This can mean solving financial equations effectively or finding solutions to a company's debt problems. Similarly, the outcome of gaining investors for a company may sometimes rely on an analyst's ability to come up with creative solutions to financial issues should they arise.
5. Technical skills - Oftentimes, financial analysts use sophisticated accounting and bookkeeping software, and prior knowledge of programs like Hyperion, SAP, SQL, QuickBooks and other software programs can be highly beneficial when working in this field. Similarly, technical skills can include the ability to learn new software or applications that may be necessary for performing effectively as a financial analyst.
6. Leadership and management skills - Financial analysts may sometimes be in charge of full finance departments or teams, and leadership skills that can be effective to the job may be required by an employer. Effective team communication, professional mentoring and directing collaboration are some of the skills that many managers may possess.
7. Financial literacy skills - Another soft skill essential to a financial analyst is their ability to decipher financial situations, commonly referred to as financial literacy. Knowledge of things like the current investment market, interest rates among lenders and other financial current events can help a financial analyst better perform their duties.
8. Critical-thinking skills - Critical-thinking can relate to problem-solving, and oftentimes, the two skills can be combined. Financial analysts may need to possess excellent critical-thinking skills that ultimately can aid them when finding the best investments for their company, deciding whether to sell an asset or buy a new financial software that may help their business keep track of financial records. Essentially, to ensure success in the job, a financial analyst should be able to think through financial questions prior to making big decisions.
9. Organizational skills - This soft skill can benefit financial analysts as they may be required to keep track of financial records as well as the current processes of a business. Being able to organize records, information, numbers and financial data of an organization can be a critical skill to have.
10. Analytical skills - The ability to forecast, plan, prioritize, rank and recognize financial problems are all qualities of an effective financial analyst. Possessing these skills means that a financial analyst can gauge and solve problems utilizing strategic planning and analysis of financial resources, markets and products to help their company make sound financial decisions.