FDs unveil the key skills needed for financial success

The growing demand for accounting skills, coupled with the current skills shortage, is forcing companies to adopt more flexible recruitment strategies, according to analysis from Robert Half.

Some 26 per cent of executives surveyed said they would hire someone with financial experience from another department, while a further 48 per cent of executives said they would hire a candidate with non-traditional skills if they had “the right commercial acumen”. This, according to Robert Half, reflected the need for commercial acumen as businesses recover, rather than just a focus on “bean counting” and cost-cutting. 

However, a Robert Half study, based on more than 200 interviews with finance executives from across Britain, claimed that management skills were increasingly the differentiator in the race to the top.

Some 60 per cent of CFOs and FDs surveyed said leadership was the most crucial attribute that contributed to the success of those in the finance department.

Almost half of finance executives stated strong technical skills as being the second most important skill for success, while 33 per cent cited effective communication as the third key skill for a successful career. Some 32 per cent claimed that having a competitive nature was key, while 30 per cent suggested it was all about having a futuristic outlook. Strong interpersonal skills (17 per cent) and risk taking (16 per cent) followed behind.

The research also highlighted the synergies between the skills needed to be successful and the roles that finance and accounting professionals found challenging when working with other departmental colleagues.

The most common cross-departmental challenge identified was managing stress arising from crisis situations (42 per cent). Prioritising conflicting deadlines throughout the company (26 per cent), learning to interact with a variety of personalities (15 per cent) and conveying financial information in non-financial terms (14 per cent) were the other main challenges listed.

Phil Sheridan, MD of Robert Half, said: ?Accounting and finance no longer operates as a silo and has affirmed its position as a strategic partner to the business, encompassing more than the ability to crunch numbers. The importance for accounting and finance professionals to have exceptional soft skills as well as technical ability is a reflection of that. These professionals need the leadership skills and effective communication backed by technical ability to deliver actionable insight for the business.

?As we enter what is most commonly the busiest period for accounting and finance professionals with businesses preparing budgets for next year and preparations underway for year-end reporting, businesses looking to hire additional headcount should seek out candidates who display key leadership qualities and exceptional communication skills alongside strong technical ability to deliver added value.?

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