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Financial Analyst

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investmentadvisorExplore Being a Financial Analyst with Elizabeth Perez

cz: Briefly describe your job.

I am a financial analyst, which is just a big word for someone who deals with numbers all day. I make sure that the company’s finances are under control. In other words, I make sure that we are not spending more money than what we budgeted and make sure that all our resources (people, machinery, etc…) are being used to the best of our ability.

cz: How long have you been working in this field?

I have been working in this field for a little over 3 years. One of those years was an internship.

cz: When and how did you decide to choose this career?

While I was at FAU, I had a great professor for my first finance class. I decided that this was the field for me when I realized that I could combine my love for numbers with my passion for business.

cz: What education and training did you receive before entering your field?

During high school I took a lot of business related courses. For example, typing, excel, database management, desktop publishing, and web page design. I also took all the math classes I could, all the way up to AP calculus. I was also in the Future Business Leaders of America Club. The club hosted workshops where we learned how to function in business related situations. When I got to college I enrolled in the Business School. I knew I wanted to study International Business, but I felt I needed a degree with a little bit more substance and focus. When I was entering my third year I decided to complete two different degrees. I graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Finance and a Bachelor of Business Administration in International Business and Trade. I also took many courses in Economics, which allowed me to graduate with a minor in Economics.

cz: How did you begin OR what was your first job in the field?

I began my career in financial analysis when I did an internship at Siemens, the company that I work for today. Internships are the best way to kick-start your career.

cz: Describe a typical day on the job?

I get to work and check my e-mails. Depending on the time of the month I have different activities. If it is the beginning of the month I am most likely working on the forecast, where we prepare a snapshot of what the numbers are going to be at the end of the calendar month. If it is the middle of the month I am usually taking care of invoices, buying equipment, reviewing contracts, having management meetings, and generally just tying loose ends. At the end of the month I am preparing for the closing of the books, performing journal entries, doing billings, and making sure that we do everything needed to be in line with the forecast. Once the month is closed I spend a good amount of time explaining any variances between forecast to actuals.

cz: What do you like most about what you do?

I love what I do. Every month is like a roller coaster. I have to make sure that the actual business financial performance is as close to the forecasted performance as possible. I also really like being the finance interface for the 57 engineers in my department. I am a really sociable person and this allows me have a lot of exposure to other people.

cz: What has been the most rewarding experience so far in your career?

I have been in the position that I am right now for the past six months. The department had been without a dedicated financial analyst for about four months and there was a little bit of chaos in the air. Once I took over the job and got acclimated, I was able to bring some organization into the picture. Every time the VP of the department gets a chance, he thanks me for the great work I have done, and the engineers in the department also share his sentiment. It really makes me happy when I am able to help and make a difference.

cz: What do you like least about your job?

Jobs that are related to accounting can get a little cyclical. Sometimes I get tired of performing certain tasks over and over again, month after month.

cz: What would you like to say to someone considering this career?

I would suggest that they do an internship. This is the only way a person can really get a flavor of what a job is really like.

cz: What are the most important personal and professional skills necessary to succeed in your field?

Some words that come to mind immediately are organization, attention to detail, timeliness, and versatility. These traits need to be combined with the characteristics you always read about in job postings: great communication skills, analytical thinking, and ability to work in teams and independently, just to name a few.

cz: What would a person interested in entering this field have to do to get a good job in it?

Go to school and get the best out of the education program you choose. Getting good grades in school shows dedication and gives you a competitive advantage when entering the working world. Also, I can’t emphasize enough the importance of an internship, not only because it allows you to discover if you are in the right field, but it also gives you experience to start building your resume.

cz: What could someone who is interested in this field do to learn more about it right now?

They can read about it on the internet or get books from the library. Another idea is to get a mentor who is currently in the field. I did this when I was in high school and it was very helpful and fun. I got to go to a bank to be with a private banker the whole day. We talked about her day to day activities, how she got to where she was in her career, we had lunch, etc…in general it was a day I will never forget.

cz: Is there any general advice you would like to offer to students on making a career choice or on work life itself?

There is no rush! Your career choice is something very important, think about it; it’s an activity you will be doing almost every day for the next 40 years of your life. There is nothing better in life than waking up every day and really enjoying what you do. Don’t get me wrong, there are days when I hate my job, but when I look at the big picture I am really content with my choice. My grandfather use to say “It doesn’t matter what you do in life, as long as you constantly strive to be the best in your field”. There is no way you can strive to be the best at what you do, if the minute you wake up, you are miserable just thinking about the fact that you have to go to work.

cz: What specific college courses did you take that you felt directly benefited you in your career in finance?

Some of the courses I took in college that helped me a lot:

  • Fundamentals of Finance - The course that got me hooked on Finance

  • Advanced Managerial Finance - Great excel experience

  • Cases in Financial Management - This course puts all your knowledge to the test (should take the last semester)

cz: If you had a do-over, which courses would you have taken to better prepare you for your career in finance?

If I could go back to take some more classes: I would take a few programming courses (so that I can perfect my financial modeling skills

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