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The Three Skills Needed to Become a Finance Business Analyst

The Three Skills Needed to Become a Finance Business Analyst

by Geoff Balmer

Business Analyst

​Finance Business Analysts are multi-talented individuals that support a wide array of business initiatives to deliver financial and operational insights that will ultimately help to drive performance across the business.

The role of Business Analyst generally comes with a generous salary. This is because it is a role that requires a strong analytical background, attention to detail, and the ability to simplify complex data into meaningful information for the stakeholders that they support.

Finance Business Analysts will need to have the following three skills to be able to perform their role.

1. Technical Skills

A Business Analyst requires strong technical IT skills including advanced levels of Excel. You may also be required to use business intelligence software to extract and combine financial and operational information from multiple sources, and then create meaningful reports of the findings for presentation to the stakeholders. Other key technology and technical skills that are useful for this role include business process modelling, the ability to extract data using SQL queries and experience using project management software.

All these technical skills will vary from one organisation to another, however, being IT literate and excelling at technology, in general, is key to your success.

2. Research Skills

Above all else, you need to be curious to be a successful Business Analyst. If you’re not comfortable diving into the unknown and analysing problems and data constantly, then you will struggle in the role. Business Analysts don’t stop when they hit roadblocks. They dig deeper and consult with colleagues to really understand what is going on in the business. They get to the heart of the issue and then make recommendations on the course of action that needs to be taken.

By leveraging your wide range of technical and operational expertise to gather data in the most efficient way possible, you will find the patterns or problems that most people aren’t able to see. In some cases, more senior Business Analysts will be the ones to make the business decisions and lead the project, obviously with agreement from the management team.

Ultimately, the Business Analyst role is a jack-of-all-trades role with an emphasis on identifying problems and offering solutions. It requires a strong attention to detail and a desire to take the initiative to find out what is going on in the organisation.

3. Communication and Business Partnering Skills

For a Business Analyst to be successful, other skills that you most definitely need to be able to display include:  

  • Critical thinking skills so you can thoroughly evaluate the business, based on your remit, in a time-effective manner. With a position such as this and perhaps a lack of understanding 'on the ground', there can be challenges with getting the information you need from others, so your empathy and communication skills will play a part to avoid any potential hold-ups.

  • Business partnering skills to build fruitful working relationships with the key operational stakeholders allowing you access to the information required to complete your analysis. This may be necessary via numerous channels including in-person and online meetings, chat, email, and file-sharing systems.

  • Influencing skills to be able to convey important information and contribute to the decision-making process.

General communications skills are also essential in this role. You have to clearly articulate to those that will provide you with the data, why you need the data, and once all of the investigation and manipulation of the data has been done, package these findings and present what may be complex issues to non-finance people.

 

In summary, a Finance Business Analyst is a key role in an organisation and one that is or should be highly valued. To be successful and have an impact in this role, we have found that a background in either audit or general accounting will stand you in good stead. Not only do you need to understand the numbers, but you must also be a negotiator, facilitator, partner, data miner, ally, critic, interrogator, storyteller, presenter, etc. In other words, a person of many hats.

If you’re looking for a Business Analyst job or hiring for one, contact the experts at Richard Lloyd to find out how we can help.