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Modern financial analysts do much more than number crunching.
And just as information technology changes the way we live and work, the demand and skills of financial analysts continues to evolve.
Financial analysts who understand statistics and command a firm grasp of database analytics can tap into the ever-growing flow of big data to make valuable enterprise-wide contributions.
A talented Financial Analyst could easily focus his efforts on strategic process improvements in areas such as human resources or operations.
IT skills, such as systems analysis and proficiency with large enterprise resource planning systems, are also in great demand.
The demand for financial analysts in Hong Kong
Employers in Hong Kong are looking for specialists who can identify opportunities for increasing business in the years ahead and can interpret financial data and turn it into solid business recommendations.
Most firms require an expert to deal with financial business decisions. This expert should be able to forecast where the company's money is coming from now, and in the future, then help managers decide how to invest it in ways that generate the greatest return.
More and more experienced financial analyst professionals, namely baby boomers, are deciding to retire, which is fuelling the demand to replace them. In addition, some positions in Hong Kong become vacant as other financial analysts are promoted.
So, more opportunities are opening, and companies in Hong Kong are seeking new Financial Analyst candidates to fill them.
Duties and expectations of financial analysts
CFOs say there is an increasing need for specialised knowledge and for professionals who can "drill down" on all financial data collected and quickly provide analyses to enable better business decisions, project a company’s future earnings and make recommendations to management based on their findings.
A Financial Analyst needs top-notch decision-making skills. And they need to be able to contribute to department-specific and overall business strategies and provide data-based solutions grounded in solid analysis.
They are also expected to translate reports and forecasts into easy-to-understand advice that streamlines processes, improves efficiency, saves time and money, and prepares the company for growth.
Job hunting? Check out our open financial analyst positions.
Financial Analyst interview questions
There are the predicable interview questions, and then there are those tricky ones that can stump even the most experienced Financial Analyst. Familiarise yourself with in-demand Financial Analyst skills and practice answering the following:
- What processes do you use to create financial analysis reports?
- What is your process for creating regular — monthly, quarterly, annually — sales reports?
- Which profitability model do you consider best for forecasting projects?
- Which methodologies do you use during financial analysis?
- What licenses, credentials and certifications do you have? How do they help you in a professional context?
- How have you developed collaborative work relationships?
- Some interview questions are targeted to test for very specific knowledge, such as these:
- Is it better to increase price by 1 percent or increase customer base by 1 percent?
- What do you think is the single best evaluation metric for analysing a company's stock?
Professional experience and skills of a Financial Analyst
Managers hiring for financial analyst jobs typically write job descriptions that call for someone with a bachelor’s degree in finance or a related field, and often an MBA, particularly for senior-level positions.
Accounting certifications, such as the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA), commonly required in financial services, demonstrate knowledge and expertise to prospective employers and clients.
The Salary Guide lists proficiency in Hyperion as one of the in-demand skills for a Financial Analyst position. In addition, hiring managers expect financial analysts to have knowledge of current financial software, including Microsoft Excel and enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems.
They should also have data analytics skills, including the ability to observe meta-patterns.
Financial analysts also must have strong interpersonal skills to convey their recommendations clearly and effectively. A detail-oriented approach, decision-making abilities and communication skills involving collaboration, tact and diplomacy are also important.
Financial analysts should be self-starters willing to dig deep into research. They should be able to work independently with minimal supervision.
Simply put, those who can acquire and maintain the top financial analyst skills will find an abundance of opportunities for employment and professional growth in Hong Kong’s financial sector.
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