This content is part of the Essential Guide: A guide to using Excel as financial accounting software

financial analytics

Financial analytics is the creation of ad hoc analysis to answer specific business questions and forecast possible future financial scenarios. The goal of financial analytics is to shape the strategy for business through reliable, factual insight rather than intuition.

Financial services businesses, including investment banks, generate and store more data than just about any other business in any other sector, mainly because finance is a transaction-heavy industry. While banks have, for many years, used data to measure and quantify risk , data analysts are now taking on the role of influential internal consultants, responsible for communicating to senior executives key insights on how to improve the organization's overall profitability.

Today's financial institutions not only analyze structured data, such as market or trading data, but also unstructured data, which can include data sources from news outlets, social media and marketing materials. The way information is now collected and analyzed presents a significant shift from the past. Software can help reduce the complexity.

Financial analytics software programs

Financial analysis software can speed up the creation of reports and present the data in an executive dashboard, a graphical presentation that is easier to read and interpret than a series of spreadsheets with pivot tables. Popular financial analysis software programs include:

Oracle Financial Analytics - modular component of Oracle’s integr ated family of business intelligence (BI) software applications. Enables insight into the general ledger, provides visibility into performance against budget and the way staffing costs and employee or supplier performance affects revenue and customer satisfaction.

SAP ERP Financial Analytics - help organizations define financial goals, develop business plans and monitor costs and revenue during execution.

SAS Business Analytics - provides an integrated environment for data mining, text mining, simulation and predictive modeling -- a mathematical model that predicts future outcomes – as well as descriptive modeling, a mathematical model that describes historical events and the relationships that created them.

IBM Cognos Finance - provides out of the box data analysis capabilities for sales, supply chain procurement and workforce management functions.

NetSuite - provides financial dashboards, reporting and analytic functions that allow personal key performance indicators (KPIs) to be monitored in real time.

MATLAB - allows developers to interface with programs developed in different languages, which makes it possible to harness the unique strengths of each language for various purposes.

This was last updated in January 2019

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