Magazine article Financial Management (UK)

Business Analyst: Toby Fowlston Explains What It Takes to Land This Highly Sought after, Yet Much Misunderstood Role

Magazine article Financial Management (UK)

Business Analyst: Toby Fowlston Explains What It Takes to Land This Highly Sought after, Yet Much Misunderstood Role

Article excerpt

It's the holy grail for so many management accountants. The term "business analyst" immediately attracts interest--my team fields more enquiries from CIMA members about this sort of vacancy than any other.

Unfortunately, today's economic chill means that employer demand for business analysts is far lower than it has been. What's more, it's one of the most misunderstood and overused job titles. The main role of a business analyst is to act as a liaison among stakeholders in order to facilitate changes to business processes, policies and information systems. Firms often advertise for business analysts when they're seeking something else entirely. Candidates will often state that they are looking for such a job but, when they describe what they want to do on a technical basis, we often find that they are talking about the skills that are predominantly used in management accounting roles.

Candidates need to look carefully at what technical skills they have and which of these they will need to use in the day-to-day role that I have described. Because the competition for business analyst roles is so intense, employers can pick and choose. This means that high academic standards are a must, as are first-time CIMA exam passes. Any advanced database skills in MS Excel or Access will also put you in a stronger position. There will inevitably be many internal stakeholder relationships to manage, so strong communication skills are vital. The best business analysts are usually those who understand accountancy thoroughly but who can present and talk about it fluently in non-technical language. …

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