As a Financial Analyst (often called a securities, research, or equity analyst), you analyze companies, describe the business, and present an opinion on the potential for the company, including; for senior analyst's decisions, for clients for mergers, and for buy and sell recommendations. Often you will use fundamental analysis, with information obtained from public records, financial statements, and contacts with management.
If you become a Securities analyst or an investment analyst you generally work for financial institutions (mutual funds, banks, insurance companies, pension funds, security firms, corporations, among others) to help make investment decisions, sometimes in teams. Often financial modeling and security valuation is involved.
Analysts attempt to determine a firm’s value and risks, including future prospects and the effectiveness of management, as well as analyzing industry and economic trends that affect firms, often using spreadsheet and statistical software packages to analyze financial data and develop forecasts. Written and communication skills are important for report-writing and presentations. Analysts ensure compliance with SEC regulations for reports in terms of their completeness and accuracy. Financial analysts are also employed by rating agencies to assign rating for a firm or governments bonds. Other duties can include budget, cost, and credit analysis. Hence, accounting as well as finance skills and knowledge are important.
Mutual funds, banks and firms such as Lipper Analytical Services and Standard and Poor’s and other financial firms hire financial analysts, including specialized financial analysts for different countries, often requiring language skills and knowledge for different global regions. an MBA is often required, and many firms require a Chartered Financial Analyst designation (CFA) for advancement.
sources: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Financial_analyst, and Careers in Finance , and the Bureau of Labor Statistics.