What It Takes to Be a Successful Business Analyst in the IT Industry?

A business analyst is one of the fastest growing professions globally, with heightened demand in the IT industry.

Who Is a Business Analyst?

A business analyst is a person who liaisons among company stakeholders to analyse and assess the operations of an organisation to determine whether the current business model is equipped to handle company goals and objectives.

1x1.trans What It Takes to Be a Successful Business Analyst in the IT Industry?

The International Institute of Business Analysis (IIBA) describes the role of business analyst as

liaison among stakeholders in order to understand the structure, policies, and operations of an organization, and to recommend solutions that enable the organization to achieve its goals.”

Financial Analyst vs. Business Analyst

Sometimes both the terms are used to synonymously because its understanding depends on how the IT organisation interprets both the roles and their contribution within the industry.

Factually, both roles are drastically different even if one can gain experience and training to do either of them eventually.

People with financial background such as MBA in Finance or CA degree are given financial analyst roles and they deal with areas like financial forecasting and balance sheet.

After some years spent as a financial analyst, you can move on to a business analyst work profile using financial analyst experience as data handling, analysis and verification is required in business analyst role too.

How to Transition from Financial Analyst to Business Analyst Profile?

This is the moot focus of this article. We share actionable ideas for people with 2+ years of finance domain knowledge and want to shift to a business analyst profile role within the IT industry.  

Remember that you’re a mid-level professional who wants to switch over to a related but new domain and as such, you need to follow a specific process to make the transition.

1) Analyse and Confirm Your Career Choice

Acquiring knowledge about the field you’re entering is essential because it will help to understand whether you’re ready to handle the business analyst profile and impact industry knowledge. There are various ways to acquire this knowledge.

Refer to A Guide to the Business Analysis Body of Knowledge (BABOK) manifesto, a recommended read for those who have some ideas about business analyst option.

If you want to start from basics, the How to Start a BA Career by Laura Brandenburg and the Software Requirements Memory Jogger by Ellen Gottesdiener are recommended alternatives.

Gathering knowledge will show if you have the qualities and diligence to become a business analyst. Laura Brandenburg has also written about 42 Reasons to Start a Business Analyst Career which I would want you to read to make the final decision.

On a side note, do not spend all time and focus on this as the subsequent steps are important too.

 2) Identify Transferable Skills

Remember that you are transitioning from being a financial analyst to a business analyst and as such, you need to:

- Identify transferable skills

- Leverage and position the skills

Since some commonalities exist between the working profile of a financial analyst and business analyst, you’re bypassing the first step of qualifying for subset jobs within business analyst profile. In short, you directly qualify for positions equivalent to the importance your financial analyst profile had previously. For this to happen, you need to identify transferable skills.

Transferable skills are those experience aspects which were drawn from the non-business analyst role. What all had you learned as a financial analyst which will prove to be beneficial in the business analyst profile? This could be financial application expertise, industry experience, particular experience in specific processes such as finance or HR and other broad functional areas.

Identify the transferable skills and leverage it for the new position. Moreover, if you’re applying for the business analyst position in the same company where you’re working as financial analyst, the process simplifies as the organisation is already aware of your transferable skills and of your knowledge about the organisation and its business model.

All you have to focus is on identifying the skills and leveraging it for the business analyst profile. Changes in your resume need to be made accordingly. Follow this simple guide that teaches how to modify your resume especially when you haven’t worked in business analyst profile before.

3) Get Feedback

At this stage, you have identified transferable skills and the business analyst knowledge-base combined gives you the confidence to make the transition.

It’s good so far and the next step is to get feedback from like-minded professionals. Sadly, many professionals choose to ignore this step but it’s necessary for validating.

Real and tangible feedback from like-minded professionals help in understanding the career path you’re about to take.

Share the idea with colleagues or ask the HR manager to give business analyst practicing techniques to strengthen hireability.

You can be inducted within the same organisation as a business analyst and if not, practicing will help to display credibility in front of other employers.

Apply to some business analyst jobs and see the nature of responses. You may not be looking for job change immediately but responses from employers will show if the modified resume is bringing desired responses, feedback from potential employers and if there are some transferable skills preferred than others, and if you have it, you should focus on it for improved career marketing.

In short, getting feedback is important.

4) Working on Skill Gaps

Simple transferable skill identification isn’t enough. You need to develop business analyst skills to improve chances of getting hired.

The transferable skill identification process also showed you what skills are lacking in you and is important to acquire. This step is all about working on skill gaps.

Begin with developing the business analyst mindset. You need to create a skill development plan, that is, enlist missing business analyst skills and ways to acquire them. It is a virtuous cycle as one skill will lead to the other. You can build these skills by:

- Signing up for business analyst skill development courses online

- Signing up for in-house courses offered by existing organisation

- Talking to HR manager and taking a skill test

- Working on business analyst projects as a volunteer

- Taking up freelance business analyst work to develop skills

- Improving business processes in the organisation

- Networking with other business analysts

These activities will help to acquire skills and build the mindset of a business analyst.

Opportunities don’t always come your way; you have to create one. Use the above strategies to build skills and attract opportunities. Check out this informative piece by Adrian Reed where he talks about cutting the vicious circle of no experience = no business analyst jobs.

At this juncture, you’re ready to explore business analyst jobs.

5) Searching Business Analyst Jobs

If you’ve diligently worked on the above four steps, you’re ready to jump into business analyst job search. The following parameters will be helpful.

  • Look within the organisation.

If you’re still working as a financial analyst within the IT organisation, enquire about in-house recruitment opportunities in business analyst section. Obviously, your colleagues and senior managers will have noticed your hard work for making this switch and who knows, some opportunity might open up.

  • Look outside the organisation.

If you’ve already left the job or have decided to leave and join a new one as a business analyst, the effort doubles. Start with employment fulfillment sites like Indeed.com, Monster.com, SimplyHired.com and LinkedIn.com.

Ensure that the new resume highlights the transferable and newly acquired business analyst skills.

Apply with employment fulfillment sites and wait for communication.

You can engage in cold calls or cold emailing with potential prospective.

You can also visit the websites of IT companies and contact the HR personally.

The essential factor here is networking. While you’re following the first four steps, take time out to network and communicate with other business analysts. You can find them in your organisation or on professional sites like LinkedIn.

The easiest thing is to strike up a conversation. Networking opens the doors of employment opportunities which are seldom publicly advertised and if you have built the ‘right’ connections, you will hear about them first than anyone else.

Remember that you’re transitioning to a new career option and as such, competition from those who are geared to be business analysts from the beginning will be present at every juncture.

Good and active networking is the only way to beat this competition and get some brownie points!

  • Clearing interview.

Networking or cold calling will get you interview offers and you have to clear them on your own merit.

Draw the focus of prospective employer towards your transferable skills, your experience as a financial analyst, your acquired business analyst skills, additional and relevant certifications and your knowledge.

Show the prospective employer that you will be an asset to the IT organisation and you’re through with the first business analyst job.

Conclusion

Transitioning from a financial analyst to a business analyst is within your grasp. You just take the right steps by following our guide.

How to Be a Successful Finance Writer?

1x1.trans How to Be a Successful Finance Writer?

Every human on Earth has one common connect – money.

Possessing money isn’t enough.

It is necessary to take smart decisions and grow the money.

A lot of questions on financial investment products arise and lack of adequate knowledge sharing confuses people.

This knowledge-gap is an opportunity for you to be a successful finance writer.

The responsibility of a finance writer is to bridge the knowledge-gap by creating informative and engaging content for the masses.

The finance writer associates with the financial institutions, functioning at various levels, and create knowledge enhancing content.

From a beginner to a professional, this guide will help you to be a successful finance writer.

Steps to Be a Successful Finance Writer

The steps to be a successful finance writer are highlighted below:

#1. Educate Yourself

Evidently, you can’t write on finance without adequate knowledge.

On the other hand, you don’t need to be a finance whiz!

A working knowledge of finance and a burning desire to learn is essential.

Learn basic financial concepts and start following the industry.

Some financial concepts remain the same while others are dynamic.

Choose a finance industry.

Specialty could lie in global finance, financial markets, consumer financial planning, investments, share market, equities and so on.

Gaining expertise in all financial segments will take years of learning; therefore, begin with one segment and pursue the field,

To gain knowledge, read popular financial blogs and websites such as Business Insider, Deal Breaker, Real Time Economics, Deal Book, Street Sweep, Free Exchange, The Wealth Report, Paul Kedrosky, Grasping Reality with a Sharp Beak, Block Talk, Credit Donkey, Christian Personal Finance, Money Under 30, Saving Advice, Calculated Risk, The Consumerist, Ezra Klein, Planet Money, Marginal Revolution, Zero Hedge and The Big Picture.

#2. Communication Style

The written communication of a financial writer should be concise, crisp and free-flowing.

The use of industry jargon is relevant when writing for financial experts but the same writing tone becomes irrelevant when communication with the common masses.

The trick to be a successful finance writer depends on the nature of communication.

Work on writing style by reading books and magazines. Note how finance writers present information.

You can check out writing resources for equity research analysis writing, Copyblogger.com for copywriting tips and this book by William Zinsser.

#3. Clientele

There is a huge market for skilled finance writers.

Opportunities are endless.

You need to know where to look for the right clients, and this is where most aspiring finance writers fail miserably!

You can be a successful finance writer working with newspapers, magazines, online finance businesses, financial product sellers, financial planning and advisory companies creating informative materials for customers.

You have the option to work as a freelancer, a full-timer or a part-timer.

#4. Build a Portfolio

Once you’ve gained good experience, start building a portfolio.

A good portfolio is what distinguishes a successful finance writer from a non-successful one.

How?

Search any successful writer and the first noticeable thing is his/her portfolio.

A portfolio is a collection of meritorious work, actively updated and used for seeking work.

As a finance writer, the goal is to associate with authoritative and reputed financial institutions that contribute towards portfolio building.

An impressive portfolio gets more clients!

We have covered the basic aspects to be a successful finance writer, let’s move on to other relevant concerns.

Qualifications and Work Responsibilities of a Finance Writer

There is no fixed qualification requirement.

Each publication has its own benchmark; however, it is common for finance writers to have a graduate degree in journalism, economics, management or finance.

Someone with Masters’ degree in the same fields can negotiate higher pay with publications.

More than anything, a natural flair with finance bypasses any educational requirement!

The job profile of a finance writer entails two main things:

  • create educational content
  • write market commentary

Both of these happen in print and digital publications. Most finance writing positions work on freelance basis.

To be a successful finance writer, you need to write coherent and clear copy with an investigative tone.

You’re not just reporting facts; you are investigating the market too.

The writer needs to keep track of finance news and write commentary or editorials.

Certain creativity is an added bonus to make finance writing appealing.

31 Finance Skill Sets

If you’re still undecided about the type of finance skills necessary, peruse this list.

  • Accounting principles, standards and techniques
  • Analyzing analytical data
  • Auditing
  • Budgeting and cash flow management
  • Compliance policies
  • Cost analysis and reduction
  • Data analysis and processing
  • Financial advising
  • Estate planning and decision making
  • Financial analysis, management, planning and reporting
  • Financial engineering
  • Financial modeling
  • Forecasting commentary
  • Investment principles and journal entries
  • Leadership positions
  • Mergers and acquisitions
  • Excel understanding
  • Performance management, planning and reporting
  • Practice management and portfolio reports
  • Project management
  • Quantitative data analysis
  • Profit and loss statements
  • Risk analysis
  • SAP
  • Strategic planning and reporting
  • Relationship management and balancing
  • Securities
  • Taxation planning and reporting
  • Wealth management
  • Valuations and value added analysis
  • Technology in finance

Your finance writing specialization could be a specific skill-set or a combination of many.

How to Find Finance Clients?

To be a successful finance writer, you need not only have great writing and knowledge about finance but a knack of finding clients.

If you wish to work as a freelance finance writer, a steady stream of permanent freelance clients is mandatory.

There is no guide to teach anyone how to go client hunting.

There are resources and some of them are shared here.

Sites like International Freelancers Academy, Media Bistro, Writing White Papers and Urban Muse are excellent resources to learn about the freelancing trade and accessing plum jobs. They are resource-cum-job opening sites.

Networking helps to get clients if you’ve the right connections. Maintain good work ethics and choose quality work over money.

Further, if you want to learn more on finance writing, read these exceptionally well-written posts on Susan Weiner’s blog. The posts target CFA charter-holders but they are applicable otherwise too. They are:

Each of these posts is a must-read.

What to Charge as a Finance Writer?

There are no benchmark charges of a finance writer.

Finance writers with good experience, skills and portfolio charge as per their input within the contextual requirement.

Surveys conducted in the last decade show that full-time freelance writers earn anywhere between $35,000 and $200,000 annually.

Download the detailed report here.

There is a list of international writers or freelancing associations mentioned in the list which offers reports and surveys on freelance rates. You should check them out.

The Freelance Charging Formula

Most freelance writers use this simple formula to determine freelancing rates.

  • Decide how much you want to earn every year, in your currency.
  • Add to this amount the fixed expenses like Internet fees and computer usage. Add miscellaneous expenses too like cost of repairs, if any.
  • Add other personal expenses like insurance premiums and house rent cost.
  • Total everything and divide by 12.

The resultant amount is what you need to earn every month.

For those who’re just starting out as a finance writer, the monthly estimate might seem impossible to reach but as you start working and getting clients, the target will cease to seem un-achievable.

Of course, your expected yearly earnings should be realistic.

Successful finance writers charge $500+ for an article and being a newcomer, you can’t expect the same.

Therefore, study the market and create a realistic earning amount.

Endnote

The finance writing market is expansive. The shortage of adequate skill set and experience necessitates the demand for good finance writer.

If you’ve the zeal to understand finance and writing abilities, a finance writing career might be just what you were looking for.

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