Finance Associate Vs. Analyst: Definitions and Differences

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 17 July 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.

There are several career paths to follow in the finance industry, many of which usually offer stable job security and competitive pay. Finance analysts and associates both analyse financial data for companies, but there are a few key differences between these two job positions. It is important for you to know these differences before deciding which career path is right for you. In this article, we compare the roles of a finance associate vs. analyst and explain the differences between working as both and show you the steps to progress in these positions.

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Financial Associate Vs. Analyst

Before doing a comparative analysis between financial associate vs. analyst roles, you may benefit from knowing who they are and what they do. Here are more details:

What is an associate in finance?

A finance associate analyses financial data to help companies with high-level corporate financial decisions. Finance associates can sometimes perform similar duties to a financial analyst, but finance associates typically offer advice on more advanced financial practices, like standards in accounting and tax codes. Many finance associates also take part in accounting tasks that can improve their departments, such as developing new systems for recording financial data and creating innovative ways to monitor compliance with financial regulations.

Some other common job duties for finance associates can include performing audits during tax season, giving specific advice to managers in a company's internal departments and implementing procedures that can help a business improve its operations.

Related: How To Become A Finance Analyst: A Step-By-Step Guide

What is an analyst in finance?

A financial analyst is a specialist who evaluates financial data and uses the information they collect to help companies make financial decisions that can improve their business. Financial analysts can work in different environments, like insurance companies, banks and pension funds, as their advice can be valuable to almost any business.

Many financial analysts have job duties like conducting research into a company's current financial standing, creating reports that reflect a company's financial performance and making recommendations for investments and other business decisions. There are also a few different types of financial analysts that exist in the industry who have unique responsibilities. Here are a few types of financial analysts:

  • Risk analyst

  • Portfolio manager

  • Fund manager

  • Ratings analyst

Related: What Does A Financial Analyst Do? (Duties And Career Advice)

Key Differences Between Associate Vs. Analyst

Some major differences between these two positions include:

Level of expertise

Many companies that employ financial analysts offer jobs for new candidates that function as entry-level positions. This means that financial analysts can typically enter their field as soon as they complete their education and training requirements. Because many candidates pursue careers as financial analysts to advance their career over time, some financial analyst positions exist as temporary positions that candidates plan to leave once they earn enough experience to qualify for a more advanced job, like as a firm analyst or a finance associate.

As jobs for finance associates are typically high-level positions, many finance associates have extensive expertise before they start their careers. Finance associates also often take on positions intending to remain at the same company permanently, as they usually work for many years to achieve the level of expertise necessary to work as a finance associate. Because they have high-level expertise in finance and accounting, this can qualify finance associates to lead teams of analysts and accountants during projects besides their other job duties.

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Education

A key difference between financial analysts and finance associates is the education requirement for each position. To become a financial analyst, candidates typically require a bachelor's degree in finance or accounting to ensure they have the required skills for the job. Some financial analysts also pursue degrees in subjects like business or engineering that they can supplement with courses in finance to ensure they have the requisite knowledge and skills to succeed in the field.

In contrast, employers typically require finance associates to have a Master of Business Administration (MBA), which is an advanced postgraduate degree. This is because finance associates often work with complex financial data and processes for which they might require more advanced training. Some finance associates might choose to earn a different type of postgraduate degree that relates to the specific industry they want to work in, but they usually require a specialisation degree to enhance their employability and job prospects.

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Advancement opportunities

Another key difference between a financial analyst and a finance associate is the opportunity each position offers candidates to advance their careers. As some jobs for financial analysts are entry-level positions, there are typically several chances for financial analysts to improve their careers and secure higher-level jobs. A popular path for career advancement for financial analysts is to become a finance associate, which they can do after earning at least three years of professional experience or receiving an MBA degree.

While finance associates already hold a high-level position in the finance industry, they can also advance their careers significantly. For instance, sometimes a finance associate can work towards a promotion to associate vice president, which is a leadership position that oversees the finance associates in a company. To qualify for a position as an associate vice president, finance associates first usually require three or four years of professional experience in the same organisation.

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Daily responsibilities

While financial analysts and finance associates can have a few similar job duties, they can differ in the daily tasks they perform. When gathering and analysing financial data, financial analysts usually complete activities like creating presentations to display the data and trends they research, organising financial models to show potential outcomes for different business decisions and writing IB pitch books that other executives can share with clients and shareholders when meeting about potential investments or other financial activities.

For a finance associate, much of their job can involve interacting with the clients they help. Though they can still conduct research and analyse financial data, finance associates often meet with clients to discuss their specific financial goals and to develop plans collaboratively to achieve them. Finance associates also usually engage in frequent communication with financial analysts and other specialists at their companies who can help with the smaller tasks that contribute to evaluating a company's finances.

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How To Pursue A Finance Associate Or Analyst Position?

Here are a few steps you may follow to pursue a career as a finance associate or analyst:

1. Go through the provided job description

It is very important that you go through the provided job description thoroughly. The job description lists out all the requirements for the job position, like the educational requirements or minimum work experience required. According to these, you can assess which requirements you fulfil and then choose to apply for either a financial analyst or an associate position accordingly.

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2. Prepare your resume

After you decide which position you want to apply for, you can then prepare your resume specific to that position. This means focusing your resume to highlight those skills or educational qualifications that are the primary requirements in the job description. Customising your resume to the position for which you are applying conveys your sincerity and attention to detail to hiring managers and increases your chances of getting shortlisted for the next rounds of the selection process.

Related: Why Is A Resume Important? (With Types And Tips For Writing)

3. Prepare for your interview

When you are interviewing for a financial associate or an analyst position, it is important that you convince the interviewer that you are a suitable candidate for the position. Having examples ready that highlight your contributions to your organisation in your previous jobs can be very helpful. You may even talk about your certifications and your stronger areas in your introduction to increase the chances of more questions on these topics.

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