Business vs. Finance Analyst: Understanding the Differences
Updated 16 January 2023
Business analysts and finance analysts are potentially lucrative graduate career positions that play a key role in local and international commerce and the delivery of goods and services. These analyst roles share many similarities, but also have some important differences. Understanding how business vs. finance analyst positions differ can help you choose the career that best matches your qualifications, skills and interests. In this article, we explain what business and finance analysts are and explore the key differences between these two roles.
Business vs. finance analyst
Because business and finance analysts both work in the world of commerce, the difference between business vs finance analyst roles may not initially be clear, but each role has a specific focus and scope that makes it distinct. The definitions below are essential for understanding the difference between a business vs finance analyst:
What's an analyst?
An analyst is a specific type of professional who is an expert in research and interpretation of data, producing reports or actionable steps that specific sectors can utilise for profit or improvement. Analysts gather high-quality data from a variety of sources and use the data to provide an overview of a specific issue, including problems and challenges and outlining opportunities for gain.
What's a business analyst?
Business analysts are analysts that work in the business sector. They use in-depth business sector research and analysis to provide direction for businesses, helping to improve productivity, growth and efficiency. A business analyst may work for a company or on a consultative basis, typically providing reports that are read by the executive board.
The work of business analysts has an extremely broad scope, touching upon areas of a business operation and performance that include management, finance, human resources and marketing. Business analysts understand and are adept in a range of business disciplines and usually have completed undergraduate training in a business-related subject. Their role involves advising managers and executives -within a company on the strategies they can implement to increase revenues and cut costs.
Related: What does a business analyst do?
Key business analyst job responsibilities include:
evaluating business structure to see if it is operating optimally and meeting its objectives
pinpointing weaknesses within the current business model
producing reports that include detailed risk and impact assessments
carrying out quality checks at regular intervals
Related: 9 Essential Business Analyst Skills
What's a financial analyst?
A finance analyst or financial analyst is a professional that is skilled in the appraisal of companies, commodities, stocks, shares or other financial assets to evaluate if they are sound investments. Much of the role of a financial analyst involves a detailed examination of financial data. They can be found working in investment banks, insurance agencies, and stock brokerages.
Financial analysts can come from a broad range of academic backgrounds, including sciences and mathematics. They work within the domestic and international banking sector, being concerned with areas spanning business and personal finance, investments, pensions and insurance. They work at every level of the financial industry, and businesses, industries, governments and private individuals use their reporting to guide investments and decision-making.
The job responsibilities of a financial analyst include:
creating charts, tables and graphs to visually present key financial data
evaluating the viability of financial ventures and companies through analysis of price, yield and stability
reviewing in-house financial records
Related: What does a finance analyst do?
Qualifications required to become a business analyst
Business analyst jobs are usually graduate career positions, requiring an undergraduate degree in a business-related subject at the minimum. It is possible to get into this job through the completion of an apprenticeship in a company that specialises in business consultancy, or an analyst department within a large company. Here are some typical undergraduate and postgraduate degree qualifications that are required for a business analyst job:
business information systems
human resource management
Qualifications required to become a finance analyst
Financial analysts typically have at least an undergraduate degree, but more commonly hold additional, postgraduate qualifications, as these broaden the range of job opportunities. For many senior financial analyst positions, employers expect finance analysts to hold the internationally recognised Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) qualification. Other degree subjects suitable for a financial analyst degree include:
Skills required for a business analyst role
As business analysts work with or within companies, they need key skills that assist them in providing strategic advice for the management team to implement. Here are some of the skills a business analyst needs:
Understanding of business structure and operations
Business analysts train to have a sound understanding of the business structure, personnel and operations. This is essential for understanding how specific businesses function and evaluating their performance. A good analyst may work across a variety of departments within a company and is typically able to relate to a variety of personnel and stakeholders as part of their work.
A business analyst needs to be a strong oral and written communicator. They are able to directly and succinctly explain the results of their research and analysis to the senior management of a business so any advice can be effectively used. Business analysts are responsible for producing white papers and reports, and may also produce- and sometimes deliver- presentations.
Strong negotiation skills are critical for business analysts to have, to ensure that companies and organisations implement their work. The analysis produced by business analysts is for the purpose of informing decision-making for company management and executive teams. A business analyst often has to sell their expertise and analysis to business leadership and win the approval of any suggestions that they have made.
The work of business analysts is often problem-oriented, with businesses requiring their assistance in developing a strategic response to a specific challenge. A business analyst, therefore, considers solutions to the presented problem alongside their research and data gathering. A completed report or presentation typically contains multiple suggestions of a solution for key problems a business is encountering.
Skills required for a finance analyst role
The financial services sector relies on the reports produced by finance analysts for critical decision-making. They, therefore, need a high degree of accuracy and strong analytical skills to avoid making mistakes. Other skills a finance analyst needs include:
As finance analysts spend the majority of their time reading and evaluating financial reports strong numeracy is essential. Data processing and financial calculations require mathematical proficiency. An analyst may be responsible for estimating figures or deciding quickly whether numerical data supplied is likely to be accurate.
Financial analysts are able to assess the viability and profitability of a wide range of businesses, industries, and investment proposals. Finance analysts use sound accounting techniques to assess the financial statements involved. Financial analysis is an important part of making banking decisions.
Finance analysts are able to pay great attention to detail when evaluating financial data or appraising markets or investments. They are able to digest large volumes of data while being vigilant for the small details or patterns that could be of value to a financial institution in its decision-making. This is a critical skill for producing insightful reports with well-evidenced conclusions that are credible to other finance professionals.
Finance analysts are adept in the acquisition, handling and interpretation of financial data from sources that include businesses, industries and nations. A financial analyst thoroughly inspects, cleanses and models data, to acquire financially useful information. The conclusions they draw from their data analysis can then support investment decisions.
Business vs. finance analyst salaries
Business and finance salaries are comparable. Both jobs require a similar level of academic qualification and professional expertise. Salaries rise according to experience and the level of seniority of the analyst position. The national average salary for a business analystis £42,610 per year, while the national average salary for a finance analyst is £36,261 per year.
Salary figures reflect data listed on Indeed Salaries at the time of writing. Salaries may vary depending on the hiring organisation and a candidate's experience, academic background and location.
Please note that none of the companies mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.
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