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Skills you’ll need to succeed in your finance career
Many organisations and institutions are feeling the crunch of the economic downturn and facing hurdles to leapfrog the competition. Hence, it is imperative for candidates to equip themselves with the right skillsets and know-how for them to tackle what can seem like an impenetrable job landscape.
Given the challenges finance professionals face, such as coping with heavier workloads and implementing change through new processes and systems, there is a demand for well rounded finance professionals. The mastery of soft skills is becoming more of a priority whilst there remains an urgency to continuously develop technical skills.
Having international work experience and a global outlook
Multinationals often encourage regional or international relocation for top performers and this is a strong testament to a candidate’s calibre and standing in the business.
Opportunities to work in the corporate headquarters of an American or European multinational will provide invaluable perspective on how strategies and top-level decisions are formulated and executed.
Regional exposure in Asia Pacific will provide closer interaction and understanding with sales or business leaders in key emerging markets like Mainland China, India and South East Asia. You will need to show you can relate to an international client or partner and understand their market. Show you can identify a key event or socio-economic trend that will affect the markets in another part of the world.
Having an understanding of the business to shape the commercial and strategic decision-making process is an integral skill set. Finance leaders are expected to have an ability to partner business leaders in key decision making processes, driving business performance and analysing market or industry trends. This can be achieved through relocation to the corporate headquarters, rotating across a planning and analysis role within finance or displaying an initiative to understand the business or industry and provide value-added analysis to business leaders.
Audit and compliance skills
Risk management is gaining focus among companies today due to an increasing volatility in today’s market. Having strong audit and compliance skills will ensure that finance leaders apply stewardship with regards to key business decisions and within its group policies and regulatory standards. Profiles starting out in an external audit role in an accounting firm should learn the necessary audit and compliance foundation to build on throughout his or her career.
Finance business partners that complement the business
Companies need partners with the adequate skills to execute new strategies and provide meaningful management information. CFOs and finance directors are judged and valued on their business partnering skills as there is a direct relationship with the CEO or MD of the business.
Being able to anticipate future developments and financial trends and the ability to see a connection across segments of the industry is essential. CEOs or senior business leaders expect senior finance leaders to analyse the market, industry or competitors and provide perspective to anticipate future trends so that companies can navigate appropriately.
Finance leaders are expected to have an ability to partner business leaders in key decision making processes, driving business performance and analysing market or industry trends.
Relationship management skills
This is important for senior finance leaders, as you are expected to influence and engage the senior leadership team. Finance leaders should demonstrate sensitivity and patience to deal with difficult stakeholders and reach a win-win situation at all times.
You will need strong written and spoken communication skills to influence internal and external stakeholders. Finance leaders will be expected to make presentations on financial information, issues, budgets or forecasts on a regular basis. The ability to translate financial information into simpler language for business leaders will be crucial in ensuring everyone is on the same page.
You will have to define the right structure for communications and adhere to it. This can be done by having a monthly review session with stakeholders. Managing the tone of communication for different audiences is also useful – for example, balancing the switch between a technical finance department, as opposed to the business leadership team.
From sharpening financial reporting skills, resolving complex problems, to building your creativity and resourcefulness, there is no limit to the ways you can broaden your skills. Dedicate yourself to developing skills that can help you rise to the top of your field and that are the foundation for a thriving and enduring finance career.
It is imperative for candidates to equip themselves with the right skillsets and know-how for them to tackle what can seem like an impenetrable job landscape.
- Seek international work experience and maintain a global outlook
- Commercial understanding to understand the full implications of decisions
- Audit and compliance skills
- Industry awareness