Accountants, financial analysts and budget analysts -- oh, my! Although each of these jobs has something in common with the others, each has a distinctive blend of education, skills and licensure significant enough to warrant its own private boulevard off the yellow brick road of finance jobs.
Financial analysts, in most settings, are a jack-of-all-trades. They help develop budgets, evaluates accounts receivable trends, identifies budget discrepancies and prepares financial reports for managers and executives. They can also have specialized roles, like preparing pricing inventories, but the role is typically a step above an accounting clerk. Financial analysts are expected to make independent judgments but aren't necessarily decision makers within the organization.
Financial analysts typically have a bachelor's degree that has a computational background and some experience with financial analysis. There is no license requirement for the job.
Budget analysts look at expense histories and volume projections to assess whether current performance conforms with a company's established budget. They are also a central cast member in the ensemble responsible for setting new annual budgets and developing long-term budget forecasts.
Budget analysts often have a degree in accounting, finance, general business, statistics or management. There is no specific license requirement for budget analysts.
Accountants evaluate and reconcile financial performance. They prepare tax returns, develop formal external regulatory reports, and assess fiduciary performance.
An accountant has a degree in accountancy and is generally licensed as a certified public accountant.
There are no industry-standard job descriptions for these three roles that are deployed uniformly. In some companies, a financial analyst and a budget analyst may occupy the same role, or one may perform the typical duties of the other.
Accountants, because of their license requirements, can perform some tasks -- such as filing taxes on behalf of an organization -- that an analyst cannot.