The role of modern accountancy and finance professionals is changing. In addition to technical proficiency, accountants are expected to take a more central role in providing strategic direction to the business, working in conjunction with other departments to share insights and play a role in shaping wider company goals and objectives.
As a result, soft skills such as persuasion, commercial awareness and collaboration are more important than ever.
Adding value with soft skills
While the traditional skill sets have remained similar over the years, organisations are now on the lookout for finance professionals who are able to add value with soft skills. These are vital in helping an accountancy professional to navigate the complex interpersonal relationships within a company.
Depending on the kind of organisation you are working for you will need to strike a balance between being communicative, while remaining firm when dealing with other departments who may have different priorities.
Within the accountancy and finance, having a good emotional intelligence quotient (EQ) becomes more important as you move up the ranks and have to deal with more stakeholders.
More than just numbers
While strong numeracy skills are important, the role of finance professionals goes beyond managing the corporate balance sheet.
The drop in asset values and the prolonged freeze in the global credit and liquidity markets have left question marks hanging over the real trading value of most numbers on both sides of the balance sheet.
Finance professionals therefore need to have the insights to make make critical judgements about matters that go beyond the latest accounting statements. They need to assess risk and make strategic assessments that call for a broader knowledge of current developments in the market.
Strong communication skills
Professionals working in finance today need to actively participate in board meetings and translate financial findings to be presented to senior stakeholders.
The current uncertainty in the financial markets has put a premium everywhere on liquidity and some corporate boards have turned to their finance teams for fuller and more frequent briefings.
Given the uncertainties over balance-sheet valuations and short-term liquidity, most boards are looking for reassurance on the financial health of their companies – and to prove so, finance professionals will need communication skills that have not always been a priority in the past.