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What is a Business Intelligence (BI) Financial Analyst?
In simple terms, business intelligence (BI) is a process that uses various tools to integrate all of a company’s internal and external data sources and all incoming and outgoing data into a »flow of information«, automatically analyze and compress it and convert it into tables and reports, diagrams, graphics, etc. made available to management. The original goal was to simplify data representation and thereby improve management decisions and collaboration in a company through optimized information flow – but in the near future BI will work together with artificial intelligence, BI systems will draw conclusions independently and optimize themselves. In the medium and long term, they will be an integral part of daily work and corporate culture.
Of course, “Finance” is also affected, because BI provides financial analyses, planning calculations, cash flow reports for internal and external target groups and analyzes portfolios and other financially relevant data. As markets increasingly demand quick management decisions, BI financial analysts must ensure up front that the presentation of the data does not falsify or obscure what is important – they are responsible for the reliability of the compressed data and for ensuring that the decision-relevant content remains.
BI Financial Analysts are supported by sophisticated software tools. In small and medium-sized companies, these are subscribed to as »SaaS« (Software-as-a-Service) and modified and updated on the initiative of BI Financial Analysts. Large companies increasingly have their own BI teams that carry out the further development and the necessary programming internally.
The most important things in 5 seconds
- Education: Economics studies with a focus on computer science, statistics, finance and accounting, business informatics or mathematics or computer science with a corresponding focus, several years of relevant professional experience
- Starting salary: €67,000
- Top salary: €93,000
- Opportunities for advancement: Head of IT/BI
BI Financial Analysts ensure that more data is not just more data
BI financial analysts need a holistic view of business-relevant financial data. You need to create reports that present data and data streams in a manageable way. In addition, however, they must also understand and see through the complex functions of business intelligence – only then can they recognize which information is relevant at the current time and which is not. Your »data selection« often contributes significantly to the management being able to make short-, medium- and long-term decisions quickly but well-founded.
BI financial analysts therefore not only have to show what is – they have to be able to think in perspective, assess risks and anticipate developments. They are supported by BI software that recognizes patterns and can be used to analyze hypotheses – provided that the company’s BI is updated to current developments on the advice, recommendation or order of the BI Financial Analysts. Their goal is to continuously improve the BI by linking current information with new findings and formulating the software requirements accordingly in dialogue with the developers.
BI Financial Analysts liaise with all departments related to finance. It is therefore one of the main tasks of BI Financial Analysts to maintain and further develop the “data models” together with these departments. If the company does not have its own BI team, this is done in close cooperation with external software companies who help with the conception and, if necessary, check hypotheses with prototypes.
What Does a Business Intelligence Financial Analyst Do?
- Preparation and compression of financially relevant information from BI
- Recognizing patterns / deriving conclusions and recommendations for management and stakeholders
- Creation of ad hoc reports
- Visualization and presentation of the findings
- Integration of business requirements into the BI system
- Monitoring BI / initiating and implementing improvements
- Cooperation with external service companies and software developers (SaaS solutions)
How to become a Business Intelligence (BI) Financial Analyst?
BI Financial Analysts require in-depth knowledge of finance and accounting and the ability to draw conclusions from figures, data and information and to present them convincingly. They also need knowledge of software development in order to formulate their concepts in dialogue with the IT department in an application-oriented manner.
An economics degree with a focus on finance and accounting, a degree in business informatics or business mathematics or computer science with an economics focus – paired with a “fascination” for analysis and its visualization – forms a solid basis on the way to becoming a BI Financial Analyst.
Knowledge of various SAP programs (e.g. SAP BW/4HANA, SAP BO) and programs that can be used to visualize the results (e.g. Tableau or Power BI) are often required.
What does a Business Intelligence (BI) Financial Analyst earn?
up to €93,000
The salaries depend heavily on the size of the company/group, tasks and area of responsibility as well as the industry and location of the company.
What do you expect from a Business Intelligence (BI) Financial Analyst?
- Profound knowledge of finance and accounting
- Understanding of economic relationships
- Strong affinity for numbers, IT and BI
- Strong analytical skills and conceptual thinking
- Safe handling of SQL and common analysis and visualization tools
- Experience in handling ETL processes
- communication skills
- Confident appearance towards management and stakeholders
- Keen interest in the further development of BI and AI
- Very good knowledge of German and English
Opportunities for advancement as a Business Intelligence (BI) Financial Analyst
Financial orientation, pronounced analytical thinking and conceptual strength are basic requirements for BI Financial Analysts to take on a leading role in the finance department – if these skills are coupled with communication and leadership skills, there are excellent opportunities to advance to the operational management team of a company.
With the increasing addition of BI to AI, “imagination” will also be an essential career building block – in the spirit of “think the unthinkable”.
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