Financial analysts assist companies with investment decisions and business acquisitions by preparing financial reports and conducting risk assessments. A senior financial analyst handles complex commercial transactions. Financial reports are often prepared by a team of analysts, in which case a senior analyst presides over the team and usually has the task of relaying the team's findings to clients.
A financial analyst must generally have a college degree in business, finance, mathematics, or a related field, although some firms hire graduates with degrees in other subjects. Most analysts work for insurance firms, banks, or investment companies. New recruits must attend training sessions, at which they are taught about risk management, securities transactions, and the basic legalities of different kinds of financial transactions. Junior analysts are often partnered with established analysts and have to complete a certain number of hours of work before they are able to work alone. Many firms will only consider analysts with several years of experience for a senior analyst position.
Analysts at investment firms are often contracted to advise companies that are involved in discussions pertaining to acquisitions or mergers. The analysts review the accounts of the companies that the client firm has an interest in acquiring. A senior financial analyst assigns tasks to each team member, such as preparing a review of the company's past financial performance or creating projections of the firm's future growth. When each aspect of the report has been completed, the senior financial analyst creates a master report and a copy is given to the client as well as a recommendation as to whether the firm should pursue the deal or find another company to acquire.
Aside from helping firms involved in mergers, a senior financial analyst has a role in deciding how an insurance or investment firm should invest its own assets. Analysts do not typically have securities licenses so cannot broker securities transactions, but the analysts can conduct research on firms, review the books of governments issuing bonds, and study economic trends. A senior financial analyst may meet regularly with senior company management and share information related to recent findings that could influence the firm's investment strategy.
Governments sometimes consult senior financial analysts during recessions or other periods of economic upheaval. In some countries, government ministers create committees that are composed of senior analysts, and these ministers seek the opinions of the analysts before making major policy decisions. News outlets often pay senior analysts to work as consultants on news shows or in newspapers.