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Career Story: Business Analyst For A Financial Data Provider

Business Analyst For A Financial Data Provider

Job Title: Business Analyst

Type of Company: I work for a company that sells financial data to investment institutions.

Education: BS, Mathematics, Union College •• MBA, Harvard Business School

Previous Experience: I was a programmer for Travelers Insurance.

Job Tasks: My company provides information about stocks and bonds to companies like banks, brokerage houses and money management companies. The information includes prices, dividends, descriptive information about the stocks and bonds, and much, much more.

Our "products" are not easy to understand, like a toaster or chewing gum or something tangible like that. Mostly, we sell computer files, filled with data, and delivered via computer. This information is very valuable to our clients.

Often, we have clients who need something different than what we normally provide. This is where I come in. I figure out what they need, whether or not we have it, and how to get it to them. When they sign up for our services, I get to work. This involves writing a computer program in a language called Perl that will create the exact type of file they need. After testing, we put the job into production, meaning that the program will run every night, creating and delivering the files they need.

I am also responsible for providing historical prices and dividends -- stock or bond prices from many years ago -- and for moving these (often huge) files to the client's computers where they are used to create graphs of stock price changes over the years.

My day consists of conference calls to discuss new opportunities or changes to a current application. I also spend a lot of time answering questions and researching issues about current jobs, like possibly incorrect or missing data.

My son spent a day in my office and said "All you do is type at the computer all day". And that is true, I am behind a computer or on the phone almost all the time.

Best and Worst Parts of the Job: The best part of my job is programming. I like that because it is challenging and rewarding when you get the program to work. It also involves creativity in figuring out just how to write a working and efficient program that solves the problem.

The worst part of my job is investigating issues that a client brings up. Whenever there is a problem, it must be addressed and fixed, and that is often not easy to do.

Job Tips: The best thing you can do is plan to make yourself invaluable to a company. Become very good at something that you like and that will also be a benefit to a company. If you are good at managing or selling, or think you might be good, it would be wise to develop those skills because good managers and good salespeople earn high salaries.

Additional Thoughts: My job is mostly technical in nature although there is a significant amount of client contact. You need to be a detail person to excel as a programmer. Even if you are, though, maintain or improve your interpersonal skills. They will help no matter what job you have.

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