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Financial Analyst vs. Management Accountant: What Are the Differences?

Learn about the two careers and review some of the similarities and differences between them.

A career in accounting can offer many opportunities for growth and development. Two common roles in this field are financial analyst and management accountant. Though both positions require knowledge of accounting and finance, there are several key differences between them.

In this article, we discuss the differences between a financial analyst and a management accountant, and we provide additional information about each role.

What is a Financial Analyst?

Financial Analysts conduct analysis on past, present and future financial data to help their company make sound business decisions. They use their findings to develop financial models that predict future revenue and expenditures. Financial Analysts also develop cost-benefit analyses to compare the financial impact of different business decisions. They present their findings to company executives, shareholders and other clients in the form of reports, presentations and charts. Financial Analysts typically work in the finance or accounting department of a company and may specialize in a particular area such as risk management or investments.

What is a Management Accountant?

Management Accountants are responsible for producing financial reports that help company leaders make informed decisions about the direction of the business. They develop and maintain financial models to forecast future business performance and trends. Management Accountants also create budgeting and cost-control systems to ensure that the company stays within its financial targets. They may also be responsible for auditing financial statements and ensuring that they comply with regulatory requirements. Management Accountants typically work in-house for the company they are accounting for, but some may work for accounting firms that provide outsourced services.

Financial Analyst vs. Management Accountant

Here are the main differences between a financial analyst and a management accountant.

Job Duties

Financial analysts and management accountants share some of their job duties. These shared duties include researching financial data, such as historical sales figures and market conditions, to determine the best course of action for a company. Another duty of both positions is to develop financial models to predict future outcomes based on current information.

However, these professionals also perform other tasks that are unique to their role. Financial analysts often conduct research to help financial departments make decisions about how to allocate funds. For example, if a company wants to start a lending program for its customers, the financial analyst would provide data on success rates for similar programs in the past. Management accountants work primarily within the accounting department and usually focus on providing information about financial data to help decision-making throughout the company.

Job Requirements

To become a financial analyst or management accountant, you need a bachelor’s degree in accounting, finance, statistics, economics, business administration or a related field. For consideration in more advanced positions, it may help to pursue a master’s degree, but it is not a prerequisite for either position.

In addition to college, both professions may continue education through additional certifications. A CPA license, which teaches accountants how to file taxes, is accredited through the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and offered as a national exam. A CFA license allows financial analysts to advise clients through decision-making in investment opportunities. Certifications are not mandatory in either position but allow for more growth opportunities and can be an outlet for gaining more experience in the financial field through extensive training hours.

Work Environment

Financial analysts typically work in an office setting, but they may also travel to meet with clients and attend conferences. Management accountants usually work in an office environment, but they may also visit client sites or travel for meetings. Both professions can work long hours during busy periods, such as tax season, when they may work overtime to complete their projects on time.


Both financial analysts and management accountants use analytical skills to examine data and draw conclusions from their findings. They also both need to have excellent communication skills to present their findings to clients or company executives. Financial analysts typically focus on providing advice about investments, while management accountants often work with developing budgets and forecasting future financial needs.

Financial analysts need to have strong math skills to calculate risk and return on investment for their clients. They also need to be able to use spreadsheets and other software programs to organize their data and create reports. Management accountants also need to have strong math skills to develop budgets and track actual spending against budgeted amounts. However, they may not need to be as proficient in using spreadsheet and other software programs because they typically work with internal data and may not need to create as many client-facing reports.


The average salary for a financial analyst is $71,352 per year, while the average salary for a management accountant is $74,474 per year. Both of these salaries can vary depending on the size of the company, the location of the job and the level of experience the employee has.


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