If money makes the world go round, then financial analysis keeps that money moving. Financial analysts examine the details of a business’s financial performance and assess investment opportunities that may improve it. This can involve the evaluation of current or past financial data, the recommendation of particular investment portfolios, or the preparation of written reports on the strengths and weaknesses of a particular financial position. Financial analysis has a large impact on a business’s overall health, and, as such, financial analysts typically enjoy a salary that’s much higher than average.
Typically, financial analysts are divided into two categories: the buy-side analysts, which develop investment strategies for institutional investors; and sell-side analysts, which advise financial services sales agents who sell financial instruments such as stocks and bonds. Financial analysts in both categories may specialize in a particular trend, region, asset, or industry.
Financial analysts will have, at minimum, a bachelor’s degree, and a master’s degree in finance can be a competitive edge. While it’s not a requirement to practice, many employers request their financial analysts be certified, primarily through the CFA Institute.
Fortunately, the educational and experiential requirements for financial analysts can be completed almost entirely online. If you’re interested in leveling up your financial analysis skills, read on.
Dr. Heather Dana is a department chair in the School of Business and Information Technology at Purdue Global. She’s also responsible for the bachelor of science and master of science in finance programs. She received her PhD from Northcentral University and her master’s and bachelor’s degrees in finance from Auburn University.
Prior to joining the faculty at Purdue Global, Dr. Dana was the academic department chair of finance and economics at Kaplan University. Her research interests primarily focus on behavioral finance, including the spending and savings trends of Americans and the financial obligations of households.
Dr. John D. Sullivan is an associate professor and chair of administrative sciences at Boston University’s Metropolitan College, where he’s taught for over 25 years. He earned his master’s degrees from Harvard and Northeastern University, and his PhD from Northeastern University.
Prior to joining the faculty at BU, Dr. Sullivan worked as a bond analyst specializing in high-yield corporate debt and business development, overseeing acquisitions and valuations totaling $1.5 billion. From 2014 to 2016, he also served as a research fellow with the US State Department’s Office of Threat Counterterrorism and Office of Threat Finance Countermeasures. Dr. Sullivan has served on multiple boards of directors and consulted for several large healthcare companies across the US.
Dr. Jonathan B. Berk is the AP Giannini Professor of Finance at the Stanford Graduate School of Business (GSB). He earned his PhD in finance from Yale University. Prior to joining the faculty at Stanford, he was the Sylvan Coleman Professor of Finance at the University of California, Berkeley.
Dr. Berk has co-authored two textbooks on finance: Corporate Finance and Fundamentals in Finance. His award-winning research primarily focuses on theoretical areas such as delegated money management, the pricing of financial assets, valuing a firm’s growth potential, the capital structure decision, and the interaction between labor markets and financial markets. Dr. Berk was also the associate editor of the Journal of Finance from 2000 to 2008.
Purdue Global – BS Finance
The online bachelor of science in finance program at Purdue Global gives students the technical knowledge they need in foundational areas of finance. Students may choose to concentrate in one of four areas: general finance, investment management analysis, real estate, and wealth management.
Upon completion, graduates will be able to perform quantitative financial analyses, interpret financial statements, examine investment and financial risk, and analyze financial theory, legislation, and practices. The program consists of 181 credits.
Boston University – MS Financial Management
Boston University’s online master of science in financial management degree is designed for students seeking specialized education in global finance. Students may choose to concentrate in either international finance or investment analysis.
Upon completion of the program, students will have a mastery of quantitative approaches to the analysis of domestic and international financial industries, particularly in the areas of security valuations and risk management. The curriculum also embeds a significant portion of the CFA Candidate Body of Knowledge (CBOK) and offers excellent preparation for the CFA exams. The program consists of 40 credits, and can be completed in as little as 18 months.
Stanford Online – Graduate Certificate in Financial Analytics
The online graduate certificate in financial analytics from Stanford University is a rigorous program that provides students with a theoretical and practical framework for solving problems within the financial industry.
Taught by accomplished financial experts, the program offers students both a broad overview and a deep dive, covering probabilistic reasoning, stochastic models, and statistical and machine-learning data analysis. The program consists of four courses and takes between one and two years to complete.
It’s never been easier to level up in financial analysis. DIY skill-building modules cover a wide swathe of territory: from broad foundational programs to deep-dives into niche areas. These options are cheap, fast, and in some cases, attached to heavyweight institutions.
Coursera is an online learning platform co-founded by Stanford Professor Andrew Ng. As a depot of massively online open courses (MOOCs), it offers an enormous range of DIY skill-building options, with over 600 focused on financial analysis.
Students can choose from programs in financial markets, corporate finance, Python for financial analysis, and accounting analytics. Partner institutions include major universities such as the University of Pennsylvania, Yale University, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and others.
Founded by Harvard and MIT, edX is an online learning platform with over 20 million students and educational partners. DIY skill-building options for financial analysis include classes in financial essentials, financial accounting, financial analysis for decision making, corporate finance, and risk management. Curriculums and course delivery are provided through partner institutions such as Columbia University, MIT, the University of Maryland, and Babson College.