What Is a Data Analyst vs. Financial Analyst? (With Tips)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published November 9, 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Organizations use data to help them make good business choices. Analysts routinely examine many forms of data, converting raw information into reports and presentations that businesses may use to support their decisions. If you're considering a job as an analyst, understanding the differences between data analysts and financial analysts can help you determine which career is right for you. In this article, we define a data analyst vs. financial analyst, discuss the differences between these professions, review tips for becoming a data and financial analyst, and explore their skills.

What is a data analyst vs. financial analyst?

Here are the definitions of a data analyst vs. financial analyst:

Data analyst

A data analyst is a professional who examines data reports and databases to identify patterns and provide answers to performance-related concerns. Data analysts also provide reports that interpret data into comprehensible forms, which may assist corporate executives in making sound choices. The following are typical roles of data analysts:

  • selecting which data to analyze to provide answers to certain problems

  • identifying patterns in data

  • responding to queries by expanding on figures and data types

  • developing graphs, infographics, and other techniques of reporting

Related: 18 Data Analyst Skills for Success

Financial analyst

Financial analysts examine and evaluate a company's data to determine its financial health and identify its potential for improvement. They examine financial facts, such as costs and revenues, then provide business advice to the organization's executive team. The following are typical roles of financial analysts:

  • providing financial advice to business stakeholders

  • projecting financial performance based on historical data

  • reviewing financial statements to determine the economic value of a company

  • preparing financial reports, graphs and presentations

Differences between data analysts and financial analysts

Here are some of the key similarities and differences between data analysts and financial analysts:

Duties

While financial analysts focus on the financial success of a corporation, data analysts concentrate on other elements of a company. For instance, they may examine operational and market performance data to help a business improve its processes. In addition to analyzing diverse sorts of data, these two professions have numerous other responsibilities, including:

  • presenting information to management

  • compiling reports and data

  • providing business recommendations

  • collaborating with analysts and other coworkers

  • identifying opportunities for improving the business

Related: Business Analyst vs. Data Analyst: What's the Difference?

Education

While there are no definitive education expectations for either profession, data analysts and financial analysts can both benefit from pursuing postsecondary degrees, such as a bachelor's or master's degree. Some common areas of study that both professions may benefit from include:

  • business administration

  • accounting

  • economics

  • data analytics

  • statistics

  • information technology

Related: Top 10 Data Analyst Interview Questions (With Example Answers)

Certifications

Data analysts and financial analysts who want to advance their careers can pursue additional certifications to improve their skills and gain expertise in their respective fields. Common data analyst certifications include:

  • INFORMS Certified Analytics Professional (CAP)

  • MapR Certified Data Analyst

  • Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert (MCSE) in Data Management and Analytics

In contrast, financial analysts often earn the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) certification.

Work environment

Data analysts and financial analysts often have similar work environments. They may work in an office setting with access to computers, printers, and other office equipment. These professionals typically attend meetings in conference rooms and other common areas within a facility. They may work an average of 40 hours per week.

Industries

While financial and data analysts focus on different tasks, they often work in similar industries. This is because many companies recognize the value of having a professional analyze their operations to determine how they can make improvements. Businesses in many industries can incorporate data and finance analytic positions to improve their overall profits and business performance. Some common industries that employ both data and financial analysts include:

  • construction

  • technology

  • sales

  • marketing

  • energy

  • retail

  • health care

  • entertainment

Related: 12 Financial Analysts Skills You Need to Succeed at Work

Tips for deciding between becoming a data or financial analyst

To decide which analytic specialty is right for you, it's helpful to consider your career goals. You can review the tips below to help you determine what your goals are and which career might suit your personal and professional needs:

  • Consider your interests. Financial analysts evaluate accounting and financial information, whereas data analysts focus more on operational performance. Having a preference for accounting or programming concepts can help you decide which specialty to pursue.

  • Research job descriptions. Reviewing the job description for both data and financial analysts can help you visualize the daily routine of each profession. Evaluating the responsibilities of each type of analyst can also help you find the career that appeals to you.

  • Ask current analysts questions. Discussing the specialty with active professionals can provide you with the opportunity to ask more about each profession. You might also ask to observe a data or financial analyst at work to learn more about their responsibilities.

Related: Data Analyst vs. Data Scientist (Key Differences to Consider)

Essential skills for data analysts and financial analysts

Here are some skills that you may require in these careers:

Data analyst skills

Here are some key data analyst skills:

SQL

SQL is the abbreviation for Structured Query Language. It's a kind of spreadsheet that can also be useful as a calculator. The application can manage large amounts of data and analyze it far faster than typical spreadsheet software. If you want to become a data analyst, you can learn how to perform calculations with data using this tool.

Related: How to Learn SQL Skills (With Tips and Career Opportunities)

Spreadsheets

SQL may be the most popular data analytics technique among data analysts, but it's also critical for these professionals to be familiar with spreadsheet applications. Data analysis often involves manipulating and organizing information using a series of spreadsheets. As a data analyst for certain organizations, it may be necessary for you to present their data and reports in spreadsheet format.

Public speaking

Public speaking is an essential skill for any data analyst, regardless of the organization for which they work. It's important for data analysts to know how to contextualize their data for various audiences. To communicate data both orally and in writing, data analysts require strong public speaking abilities. As a data analyst, you can explain the significance of the data you've compiled to the audience. In addition, you may describe what a business may do in response to your observations, such as enhancing its operations.

Data visualization

Data analysts can use data to make compelling narratives to engage their audience and convey their arguments. Presenting your findings with simple, appealing visuals can help ensure all audiences understand your message, so d ata visualization is an essential skill for any data analyst. These professionals often use high-quality graphics and charts to explain their conclusions clearly and concisely.

Statistical programming languages

Data analysts are to be proficient in several statistical programming languages, including Python and R. These statistical programming languages facilitate the analysis of massive data sets by data analysts. Businesses often require expertise in a variety of computer languages, so it's advantageous for data analysts to study many statistical programming languages.

Financial analyst skills

Here are some financial analyst skills:

Interpersonal skills

This soft skill can apply to many career paths, but it's a vital aspect of financial professional skill development. Financial analysts often develop interpersonal skills that assist them in engaging with coworkers and investors. These can help analysts read nonverbal communication hints, present projects, and cooperate with teammates on analytical assignments.

Communication skills

Communication skills are also essential for financial analysts because they have a direct impact on their interpersonal abilities. Clear communication as a financial analyst may include being straightforward when sending e-mails, leaving voicemails, and communicating with investors about crucial financial facts. Analysts can also leverage their nonverbal communication skills to navigate professional and working relationships.

Problem-solving skills

Financial analysts are problem-solvers. This may include properly solving financial equations or resolving a company's debt issues. Likewise, the result of a company's efforts to attract investors may sometimes depend on an analyst's ability to provide creative solutions to any financial problems that may occur.

Leadership and administration abilities

Financial analysts may occasionally be in charge of whole financial departments or teams. This means that some employers may require leadership skills from these professionals. Many managers may possess the talents of effective team communication, professional mentorship, and leadership.

Please note that none of the companies, institutions, or organizations mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.

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