Career profile: Financial analyst

There’s more to being a financial analyst than monitoring markets and filing reports.

With a keen eye for industry trends and tasked with producing accurate predictions, the financial analyst role requires professionals to stay connected with current affairs and always be ready to adapt to new circumstances. Matt Newland has been with online payments institution CardOneBanking for the past decade. He talks about his experience moving up the ranks, the challenge of responding to short notice requests and the adrenaline rush of working to tight deadlines.

What led you to pursue a career as a financial analyst?

I’ve always enjoyed working with numbers. Before I was made a financial analyst, I was working in the fraud department. When I realised that a member of the finance team was looking to leave, I started my AAT studies in anticipation of that job becoming available. A few months later, I moved directly into that position, because I’d already started my AAT studies.

What does an average workday look like for you?

An average day can include banking reconciliation, updating cash books, and loading customer claims in and out of their accounts. I might also be paying suppliers, producing the weekly cash flow for the managing director and the investors, and creating the payment requirement report which outlines all the operational funds available for expenditure. I also have treasury functions – which involve moving hundreds of thousands of pounds between clients accounts and outside of the business on a weekly basis –  and I carry out quarterly VAT returns and monthly payroll.

What are the challenges involved in the role? And what’s most rewarding about it?

Quite often, I get asked by the managing director for figures and reports at short notice. He might have a meeting in the afternoon and he could approach me in the morning saying he needs some figures and a report produced. That’s probably one of the most challenging aspects. The most rewarding part is taking on additional responsibility, being the go-to person for any financial questions that are asked, especially between the operational and the senior management team, and implementing new processes and procedures.

What should those thinking about a career as a financial analyst know about the job?

It is a lot of analytical work, and quite often you’re working to tight deadlines. You need spreadsheet skills and to be a good communicator with clients. It’s all organisational – you need to understand what’s a priority and what can take a back seat.

What does it take to be a good financial analyst?

One of the most important things I’d say is good attention to detail, the ability to work calmly under pressure, and a good knowledge of banking, finance and accountancy. It also helps to keep up with current financial regulations, and to have the interpersonal skills to be an effective communicator. I think the better your relationship with the clients is the easier everything tends to be, especially when invoices and statements from suppliers are involved.

What surprised you about the role?

The biggest surprise is probably the diversity of the role. Like many people, at first I just thought it would be a lot a lot of number crunching, but it’s not. In fact, no two days are the same. You have to be prepared to adapt to different situations, particularly when dealing directly with suppliers

How did your AAT qualification prepare you for your role as a financial analyst?

The AAT qualification helped to give me all the necessary skills that are required for the role. In November it will have been three years since I started working with the finance team. Six months ago, I was promoted to senior financial analyst, which means I’m now second in charge of the team, directly under the head of finance.

Ebony-Storm Halladay is editorial operations assistant at Flibl. She researches and writes about finance, business, sustainability and technology.

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