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The Job Description of an Investment Research Analyst

As the title implies, the function of a research investment analyst is research and analysis of financial investments. The position usually involves mutual, hedge or pension funds, securities, insurance, and trusts. High-tech evaluation of industries through financial statements, products, services, competition, risks and other related cost factors is required to establish current company values and earnings potential. This is one of the most exciting and lucrative careers on the planet.

Job Qualifications

All financial analysts must be analytical, confident and detail-oriented. Experience in this or a similar field is a plus, since inexperienced, entry-level and new graduates are rarely trusted in this position, although internships may be available. As team players, analysts assist and support fund managers, stockbrokers and senior analysts in national and global market assessment for investment portfolio decisions. Successful applicants are focused and disciplined communicators.

Skill Requirements

Optimal research and analysis skills are critical to provide accurate information. An analyst will also conduct meetings, prepare and make summary presentations, monitor new products and market trends, predict economic movement, follow media updates and stay abreast of policy, tax and regulation changes. Familiarity with spreadsheets is a prerequisite, however various analysis software instruction may be offered through an employer.

Education and Training

Investment research analysts need a bachelor's degree in accounting, math, business, economics or another statistical area. Depending on the employer, training in a secondary field may be appropriate. A master's degree would be helpful for career advancement. Certifications and licenses through exams might be required, especially for the higher-level positions. Specializing in type of investment and also selling vs. buying is also common.

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Salaries, Benefits and Perks

Base annual salaries are typically $50,000 to $100,000 but can be considerably more in a larger business.

Compensation includes bonuses ranging from a few thousand dollars to more than the actual salary. It's feasible that a seasoned and successful analyst could earn a $1 million or more per year.

Benefits usually include health and life insurance, pension plans and sometimes extras such as gym memberships. Most jobs of this nature require little travel.

Career Advancement

Advancing to an associate level requires several years' experience. Advancing to an executive level may require additional education or training and at least five to 10 years' experience.

Several career options exist within this area of expertise, depending on personal interests and aspirations. As in all industries, the various ranks will include presidents, vice presidents, directors, senior analysts, fund managers and research associates or assistants.


Where Are the Jobs?

Comparable job titles suitable for entering this occupation are financial analyst or manager, accountant and statistician.

Prospective employers are investment banks, management companies, brokerage firms, charities, insurance agencies and any public or private business in need of investment advice.

Opportunities are worldwide, with New York being a major market in the U.S. Some companies will have only one financial adviser, but larger organizations may need an entire team of analysts.

Final Decision

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, "As the level of investment increases, overall employment of financial analysts is expected to increase by 20 percent during the 2008--18 decade, which is much faster than the average for all occupations."

It's a demanding role with long, stressful hours, so lifestyle must be considered before making this career choice, but it can be highly profitable for someone with the drive and tenacity to beat the odds in today's volatile economy.

Overall employment of financial analysts is expected to increase by 20 percent in the decade ending in 2018.

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