A day in the life of a financial analyst

By Robert Half on 23rd August 2018

Analysts are in hot demand right now, according to the Robert Half Salary Guide. Financial analysis is a strong career choice for graduates and a very attractive option for those looking to change careers.

Robert Half sat down with Channel 4’s Financial Analyst, Daniel Harris, to talk through the average day and discuss the financial analyst job description in detail.

Daniel Harris, Financial Analyst at Channel 4.

How did you come to work as a Financial Analyst? 

I studied management and accounting at university and then started my career at PwC where I spent 5 years in audit. I travelled to Sydney and worked out there for 3 – 6 months which really helped me culturally. Working in a new team that I’d never worked in before really helped me to develop important relationship skills. Working with new clients and being able to talk to new people from different backgrounds was instrumental in getting me to where I am now.

I then did a year and a half in transaction services and really liked the analytical, commercial side of things. I knew deep down that I wanted to go and work in industry. Financial planning and analysis lends itself most to that transaction pathway that I’d been through a PwC, so I decided to make the move into financial analysis.

Channel 4 is a company I was really interested in. The job spec encompassed looking at both the financial and non-financial strategy of the business, so that’s how I got into the role.

What is it about your job that gets you out of bed in the morning?

For me, it’s the company. I love Channel 4—I’ve grown up watching Channel 4 programmes and I still watch them now!

A lot of my job is looking at the strategy of the business and our 3-year plan. Are we investing in the right things? Are we making the right programmes? Are we allocating the resources correctly? 

Because it involves looking at the whole strategy of the business, you do different things every day. No day is the same and it’s that variety which gets me out of bed in the morning. I’m doing something I’m passionate about for a company I’m passionate about. 

You’re immersed in different scenes, talking to different stakeholders and different people. Whether it’s people working in the commissioning team or people generating advertising revenue for the company. My role allows me to be immersed in every element of the business.  

What’s the first thing you like to do when you get into the office?

Make a cup of coffee! I normally read my emails, catch up with people and socialise a bit, then get stuck in!

How do you normally like to structure your day? 

At the moment I’m working most heavily on the 3-year plan. It requires me to do a lot of data crunching and analysis which is quite intense. I like to do this in the morning because that’s when I’m most productive. I front-load my day and leave the afternoon free for reviewing and tackling the other things on my to-do list which don’t require as much brain power.

Can you share some of the standout successes you’ve had in this role?

I’ve only been in the role for a few months, but I’ve already been involved in meetings with the CEO. From early days I’ve been heavily involved in liaising with the executive board, discussing strategy and taking responsibility for the analysis which is presented in front of them.

While I was working in audit at PwC, I received an award for retaining a priority client. One of our audits was out for re-tender and I was heavily involved in the proposal and presentation in front of the Financial Director and other stakeholders. We won the audit off the back of my relationship with the client.

In my experience, relationships are one of the most important skills for a financial analyst to have. You always come across things in the role that you don’t know the answer to and if you’ve got the relationships, you know that there will be someone in the business you can ask for help. 

What would you say is the most challenging aspect of the role?

Conflicting views are a challenge. You’ve got different teams that all want an allocation of your resources, whether it be money or time, and you need to be able to prioritise them in order of importance. You need to understand that you can’t please everyone all of the time.

The best way to mitigate it is to try and find a compromise. If you can’t find that compromise, you need to be able to explain your decision. They need to be able to understand that it was made out of a desire for fairness.

What makes you happy at work?

The gratitude that people show. A lot of people I work with are really grateful for the work that I put in and it’s the same across every business I’ve worked in. Appreciation makes all the difference.

Would you like to start a career in finance? Are you looking to make a career move? The experts at Robert Half can help. Get in touch with our team today!

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