While fund managers are responsible for making decisions about investments, it is investment analysts who have the responsibility of providing information and recommendations that enable such decisions to be made.
The precise nature of the work may vary according to the type of employer. For example, some investment analysts may be employed by investment management companies and offer their expertise to fund managers in-house; others may work for investment banks and stockbrokers, providing portfolio managers or clients with their advice. However, in general investment analysts examine economic trends and their impact on investment potential. Typical tasks may include:
- researching companies, particularly in terms of their financial functioning
- analysing company accounts, profit and loss sheets and cash flow information
- interpreting complicated financial information
- writing financial research summaries
- regularly meeting with company managers, stock market traders, fund managers and stockbrokers
- making informed recommendations
- collating detailed, up-to-date information about the UK economy and financial markets.
Investment work provides high levels of responsibility, good promotional opportunities and impressive financial rewards for the most successful employees. However, the role is demanding with long working hours, sometimes up to 12 hours per day.
- Investment banks
- Investment management companies
- Private equity firms
- Life assurance companies
- Large charities
- Banks, particularly in wealth management.
Vacancies are advertised by careers services, specialist recruitment agencies, online and in publications such as TARGETjobs Finance, as well as Business Week, The Economist and The Banker, plus their respective websites. Undertaking sector and company research, attending presentations, networking and speculative applications are worthwhile. Early applications for vacancies are advisable.
Investment analyst positions are more commonly open to graduates rather than school leavers. However, it may be possible for school leavers to enter the profession by starting in an administrative role within finance and undertaking study for entry-level professional qualifications, such as those with the Chartered Institute for Securities and Investment, the CFA Institute or the Chartered Insurance Institute. It can take several years to become qualified enough to find employment as an investment analyst.
Some companies do offer apprenticeships for school leavers, which could lead to a career as an investment analyst. For more information about this route, see the finance sector of TARGETcareers, our website aimed at school leavers.
Graduates will need a degree of 2.1 or higher. Qualifications in business studies, management, statistics, mathematics, accounting or economics can be particularly helpful, as can an MBA or similar professional qualification. Relevant paid or voluntary experience gained via internships can be beneficial. Language skills may also be useful when working for an employer with international clients.
- Research skills
- An interest in current affairs
- Ability to work effectively under pressure
- IT skills
- Analytical and problem-solving skills
- Teamworking skills
- Numerical skills
- Communication skills.