Dec 20, 2017 at 12:00am ET By Joanna Hughes

People all over their world put their hard-earned dollars into investments every day. How do they know which will pay off and which will go poof? Financial analysts play a major role in the process. Here’s a closer look at this vital profession, along with how one program in San Francisco can help you position yourself for success in this red-hot field.

What is Financial Analysis?

Explains Investopedia, “Financial analysis is the process of evaluating businesses, projects, budgets and other finance-related entities to determine their performance and suitability. Typically, financial analysis is used to analyze whether an entity is stable, solvent, liquid or profitable enough to warrant a monetary investment....Financial analysis is used to evaluate economic trends, set financial policy, build long-term plans for business activity, and identify projects or companies for investment. This is done through the synthesis of financial numbers and data.”

Proposes U.S. News & World Report, meanwhile, “Financial analysts keep their fingers on the pulse of the economy. They help their clients by recommending when to buy and sell investments and by staying current on economic trends, business news and company strategy. They also write reports that explain their analyses, share their expertise with colleagues who aren't financial experts and sometimes communicate their perspectives to the public and financial media. Many work for financial companies, including those in the financial services and insurance industries.”

Due to their tremendous value, financial analysts are expected to be in increasing demand moving forward. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the job outlook is strong with a projected growth rate of 11 percent between 2016 and 2026 -- far outpacing the average across all professions. Factor in high salaries, and there are an abundance of reasons why financial analysts have earned top spots on rankings including “Best Business Jobs,” “Best STEM Jobs,” and “The 100 Best Jobs.”

Thinking Financial Analyst? Think San Francisco

While a master’s degree in financial analysis may give you a critical inside edge to a career in this challenging yet rewarding field, doing your master’s degree in San Francisco can transform the trajectory of your career. Enter the University of San Francisco’s Master of Science in Financial Analysis (‘MSFA”).

Designed for recent graduates and students in the early stages of their careers, this program combines rigorous academic training with sought-after practical experience while addressing the material necessary for the Chartered Financial Analyst® designation exams. Taught by USF Finance faculty and CFA-credentialed practitioners who are experts in their area, the MSFA offers both an 18-month full-time track and a 22-month hybrid online/live track to best meet the needs of students and working professionals alike.

For many of today’s leading employers, the benefit of hands-on experience cannot be overstated. MSFA shines in this area. Says John M. Veitch, professor and program director of MSFA, “The program provides practical applications to students through our Bloomberg Markets room, investment consulting projects with San Francisco financial firms, active participation in the CFA Institute's Investment Research Challenge and a Wall Street Valuation class/trip.”

No discussion of MSFA would be complete without expounding on its cutting-edge Bloomberg Lab housing six Bloomberg Terminal Computers. With this direct access and exposure to one of the leading providers of market data, news, and analytical functions used by major financial firms and investment management organizations around the world, students can view historical and live market data and use it to test and analyze how theoretical financial models stand up in practice. Annual training sessions hosted by representatives from Bloomberg ensures that students are leveraging this feature into optimal outcomes. 

Interwoven throughout the comprehensive student experience at MSFA? A commitment to teamwork and collaboration. Says Veitch: “As a cohort program, students work together throughout on projects and assignments that apply the theory they are learning to real-world data accessed through our six Bloomberg terminals. These tight bonds support learning throughout the program and provide deep networks in the industry after graduation.”

Another one of MSFA’s key differentiators? Its status as a STEM program positions graduates for higher-paying jobs. In fact, according to  Not to mention that as one of only 10 percent of business schools accredited by the AACSB, a degree from the University of San Francisco’s School of Management is held in particularly high esteem by employers.

All of which begs the question: Why San Francisco? Continues Veitch, “Our location in San Francisco puts students in the heart of the emerging fintech industry and provides students unparalleled access to jobs that require the quantitative training they possess.”

And did we happen to mention that San Francisco is home to some of the highest salaries in the profession, according to US News & World Report?

If you’re sold on a career in financial analysis, there’s no better time than now to make your move. The application deadline for Spring of 2018 is December 10th, with $10,000 in scholarship funding available for students who apply by that date.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Joanna worked in higher education administration for many years at a leading research institution before becoming a full-time freelance writer. She lives in the beautiful White Mountains region of New Hampshire with her family.

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