Businesses borrow money for all sorts of reasons. Small companies borrow to upgrade their equipment or to expand their operations. Bigger companies may keep a revolving credit line for their expenses, or they may borrow lots of money to jump on a promising investment. To do this, they often hire a credit analyst to look at their financial metrics and keep a running tally of how much they can borrow and what interest rate they should pay.
While borrowers have the option to hire a financial analyst for this sort of thing, banks and other lenders absolutely have to have these positions on staff. Working on the lending side, credit analysts set guidelines for how to pick a good credit risk and how much interest has to be charged to cover the inevitable defaults. Without this work on accounting data, lenders could easily lend too much to a risky client, charge too little to cover their costs, or, almost as bad, lend too little and charge too high an interest rate to be competitive.
As important as these professionals are to the modern economy, it’s no surprise that the path to becoming a credit analyst is long and demanding. Ambitious young accountants almost always start by earning a bachelor’s degree in finance, accounting, or a similar field. After that, they may choose to enter a graduate studies program to earn an MBA or get on-the-job training at the company that hires them. The entry-level job is as a credit assistant, usually reporting directly to a senior financial analyst, followed by a promotion into the higher-level position.
Credit analysts are a crucial part of financial decision-making. By studying the financial metrics of their employers and clients, they can provide sage advice about who can borrow, at what rate, and for how long a term.