Finance Analyst Career Guide: How to Succeed

Written by: Evie Courtier
Published on: 23 Jan 2024


Finance analyst

Many accounting professionals, whether they’re part or fully qualified, work in a Finance Analyst job role at some point in their career. Working in the finance analyst landscape offers a strong foundation for a prosperous finance career; whether you decide to stay within the realm of analysis and progress to a senior role, or apply your skills to other areas of accounting.

Within this Finance Analyst job description, we’ll dive into the role of a finance analyst, the main responsibilities, earnings, and the all important question of, how do you succeed?

  • What is a Finance Analyst?

    It’s important to initially note the difference between a Finance Analyst and a Financial Accountant. The latter is suited to someone who thrives working with numbers, looking at raw financial data and how those numbers are recorded.

    By comparison, a Financial Analyst considers why those financial results have occurred, suggesting changes to businesses to drive improvement. Working as a Finance Analyst therefore lends itself to a candidate who is commercially aware with an interest in business development.

  • What Does a Finance Analyst Do?

    Looking at past and current financial data, Finance Analysts make projections of future financial results. Working as a Finance Analyst will see you using these forecasts to establish cost structures and budgets for future projects and campaigns – allowing businesses to organise and prioritise their expenditure for that period.

    As a Finance Analyst, you will:

    • Compile findings and forecasts into weekly, monthly and annual reports, accompanied by substantial actionable commentary.
    • Develop, analyse, and maintain budgets to ensure alignment with organisational goals.
    • Examine financial data and trends to provide insights into the company's performance.
    • Conduct variance analysis to identify discrepancies between actual and budgeted figures.
    • Create financial models to project future performance and assess potential outcomes.
    • Provide input for strategic decision-making by forecasting financial trends.
    • Identify and evaluate financial risks and propose strategies to mitigate them.
    • Assess the impact of economic trends, market changes, and other external factors.
    • Establish and monitor key performance indicators (KPIs) to evaluate the organisation's financial health.
    • Offer financial insights to support strategic decision-making by management.
    • Analyse costs associated with various business activities and recommend cost-saving measures.
    • Suggest improvements for existing procedures as well as propose new processes, all with the aim of decreasing costs and increasing gains.
    • Talk your suggestions and proposals through with senior figures and non-finance members of staff.

    Working as a Finance Analyst will see you take on increasing levels of responsibility as you approach senior levels, creating business-wide investment plans, cost structures and budgets alongside CFOs and other members of senior management.

  • How to Succeed as a Finance Analyst:

    Whether you’re going for a job in industry or in practice, securing an interview for a Finance Analyst role requires you to present a variety of key technical and soft skills. Most firms and employers will accept applications from candidates with a 2:1 or higher undergraduate degree in a relevant subject such as finance, business, accounting, mathematics, statistics or economics.

    Alongside the educational grades, it is vital for finance analysts to have:

    • First-class communications skills, with the ability to influence and convey complex financial ideas and insights to non-financial staff.
    • The aptness to liaise with colleagues and members of senior management, providing detailed explanations of their reports and proposals.
    • Advanced Excel skills with knowledge of macros, pivot tables and lookups, alongside commercial acumen and understanding of business strategy.
    • Knowledge of enterprise resource planning systems and big data to give you a competitive edge over your rival applicants.

    Unless you’re applying for an entry level finance analyst jobs you’ll be expected to have:

    • Sound financial analysis and modelling skills, obtained during your training, qualification or previous employment.
    • As detailed, in our ‘Career Guide: What Roles Can I Apply for as a Part Qualified Accountant?’ article, whilst some employers seek ACCA/ACA/CIMA qualified accountants, Finance Analysts will often be hired unqualified or part way through their qualifications, with study-support offered by certain companies.
    • Financial Analyst roles are therefore a strong option for Part-Qualified Accountants seeking to gain experience while still working towards their qualification. Discover our ‘CV Template for Part Qualified Accountants’ to help you prepare for your job search.

  • How Much Does a Finance Analyst Earn?

    According to our latest salary survey, Finance Analysts earn an average of £52,500 per annum - a 16.6% increase year-on-year.

    65% of Finance Analysts experienced a pay rise last year, with the role providing a variety of other perks, from 83% employed under a hybrid working structure, and 62% taking home an additional bonus.

  • Finance Analyst Jobs on GAAPweb:

    GAAPweb partners with leading employers and specialist finance recruiters across the UK and beyond to bring you a variety of Finance Analyst jobs across a myriad of industries and locations.

    Stay ahead of the game - set up a job alert to receive the latest Finance Analyst job roles directly to your inbox.

    Alternatively, upload your CV to site to get headhunted for both advertised and non-advertised roles.

    We wish you the best of luck in your job search - looking to hire a Finance Analyst? Advertise with us at GAAPweb recruiter services.