What is the difference between a financial manager and management analyst?

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Finance is one of the most attractive industries for employment, both in America and globally. Professionals in the sector can often earn high salaries, as well as find personal reward and self-enrichment in other ways (as those in finance are now so often at the leading edge of technology and breaking geopolitical news).

As a way to further burnish their qualifications and knowledge, many professionals interested in finance or already working in the industry seek a Master of Business Administration (MBA). Getting a graduate education not only helps students sharpen their skills and learn new competencies, but also grants them firsthand experience in capstone projects and practicums, as well as the ability to network with connected faculty.

There are many careers an MBA can prepare you for, but two of the most common areas that graduates look to enter are financial management and management analysis. There are important differences between the two fields that prospective students should be aware of, as finding an MBA program that aligns with your career aspirations is central to choosing the right degree and job.

What does a financial manager do?

Financial management can be summarized as the strategic planning, managing and directing of an organization’s resources to meet key goals and objectives. It is the application of general and finance-specific management techniques to help shepherd organization funds, make investments, forecast opportunities and organize resources.

Financial managers are depended on — and expected to — take on a number of duties across various fiscal responsibilities that touch on:

  • Generating financial statements and reports
  • Gathering, tracking and analyzing data
  • Ensuring consistent fund levels and liquidity
  • Predicting capital needs
  • Deciding asset mix and allocation
  • Managing investments and looking for new opportunities
  • Reviewing company expenses and balance sheets

Financial managers can be found across nearly all industries and in various settings, as no matter what a business or organization does, it needs someone to manage money to make it all work. This makes a career in financial management possible at large corporations, mid-sized enterprises, nonprofits and nongovernmental organizations. Financial managers are just as likely to find employment in a multi-state health care system as they are a local shipping and logistics company with a wide footprint. Depending on the setting they enter, financial managers can also have industry-specific responsibilities, like managing revenue cycle management at a hospital or supply chain procurement, to use the examples above.

Financial management is also an attractive career field in terms of salary and employment opportunities. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), financial manager jobs are expected to grow 19 percent between 2016 and 2026, compared to the 7 percent national average growth rate for all occupations. The BLS also said the 2017 median salary for financial managers was $125,000, and could be higher depending on career specialization (financial managers at professional, scientific and technical services earned around $147,000 a year on average).

When looking for an online MBA program to help prepare you to enter financial management, be sure to research curricula and how coursework aligns with your interests and professional goals. Classes that you may want to keep an eye out for are ones that deal with:

  • Performance reporting and how modern technology affects it
  • Advanced study of corporate finance
  • Strategic management and decision-making

What does a management analyst do?

While a financial manager may be focused on day-to-day operations, resource management and core inner workings, management analysts are professionals who take a higher-level approach to looking at organizational mission, scope, capacity and are brought in to make recommendations that make a company or institution more efficient, responsible, productive, profitable and overall a better establishment.

Some of the key duties that management analysis entails include:

  • Scrutinizing traditional practices and organizational structures
  • Assessing talent, infrastructure and other metrics
  • Identifying challenges and developing innovative solutions
  • Collaborating with various stakeholders on decision-making
  • Presenting to executives or leaders on topics like costs and performance

Management analysts are essentially consultants, and can either work in-house at an organization, in partnership at a consultancy firm or out of their own independent shop. This allows for great career flexibility to align work with personal and professionals needs and goals. Often, management analysts can be brought on to tackle a specific and pre-identified solution for a company, or be handed a general and standing mandate to recommend new and better ways of doing things.

Management analysts are also interacting more with technology in their professional lives. Big data has become a guiding principle of business and operations, and management analysts who are data-inclined can mine all that information for valuable insights that can point at unseen problems or paths forward to better efficiency and effectiveness.

As is the case with financial management, management analysis can be a rewarding field of work for professionals with an MBA. The BLS measured 2017 median salary for a management analyst at $82,450, while job growth was expected to reach 14 percent between 2016 and 2026, which is double that of the average for all occupations.

Finding an MBA program that’s right for your management analysis aspirations means researching what classes are available to you. Coursework that can help prepare a management analyst may cover:

  • Analyzing and leveraging data
  • Creativity and innovation in management
  • Team leadership and group dynamics

Consider Villanova for your MBA

There’s great value in getting an MBA if you wish to become a financial manager or management analyst, and that career objective can be enhanced with a degree and program designed to best prepare you. At Villanova, we take pride in offering an online MBA commensurate with our top-ranked campus program that allows graduate students to study with world-class faculty, become proficient in advanced concepts and specialize their degree to their interests.

Our online MBA is an immersive experience that can help students gain the skills, knowledge and connections they need to thrive in financial management or management analysis if they so choose. If you’re interested in learning more, contact an enrollment advisor today.

Recommended Readings:

Career spotlight: Management analyst

Four tips for making the most of your MBA program


U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Financial Managers

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Management Analysts

Management Study Guide

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