Accountants: Do you have the right skills for the future?

team-spirit-1544791_640(1).jpgFinance Minister Pravin Gordhan recently said that the role of accountants has become more important to general society in the current economic times. Finance is evolving from a focus on the transactional and cost efficiency areas to strategy where finance now makes a massive impact on business. If you’re looking to progress your careers in an ever-evolving industry, experts warn the focus needs to be more on a broader range of skills like emotional intelligence, technical skills and interpersonal skills, if you are serious about your future finance career.

Growing numbers of finance professionals spend the bulk of their time as internal consultants or business analysts within their companies. Management roles for accountants increasingly involves a wider and deeper knowledge of financial strategy, business partnering and having to deal with internal and external stakeholders.

Technological advances have liberated finance professionals from the mechanical aspects of business. They spend less time preparing standardised reports and more time analysing and interpreting information. Many have moved from the isolation of accounting departments to be physically positioned in the operating departments with which they work.

The changes in the business environment and practices along with the impact of technology have resulted in a trend where finance professionals are emerging into important role players in the strategic management of businesses throughout South Africa. Working in a changing economic environment with changing legislation, while considering the client’s needs, is a constant challenge and also requires a different set of skills than 30 years ago.

Companies are in need of finance and accounting professionals that are able to look at the numbers and ask ‘why’ as opposed to simply calculating results and putting them on spreadsheets or PowerPoint presentations. The base accounting and finance technical skills are a given these days and something that hiring managers really want to ensure people have as they come into the fold. But it's people that can “step back and understand the big picture” that are important and companies are hiring them.

Some of the skills hiring manager are focusing on besides the competency areas are:

IT /System knowledge skills
Never before has it been more crucial than today, that information needs to be real time, accurate and precise. This need for real time access drives the demand for finance professionals that understands how to make use of technology effectively in order to successfully communicate complex issues that will assist management in decision-making. Technology and accounting software is important in driving the evolution of the role of accountants, who now spends far less time updating ledgers and doing manual calculations and more time identifying financial risks, optimising tax payments and finding ways to improve profitability.

Interpersonal skills
The demands on finance professionals are different today, as they are tasked with working with a variety of managers, suppliers and clients. While technical skills are essential, it is well- developed interpersonal skills that will enhance relationships with clients and staff. The ability to work together with different role-players is key to success.

Analytical/Interpretive skills
In the fast-paced business world, finance professionals have become information providers. It’s no longer just about being a wizard at spread sheets and data manipulation but you need to be able to figure out whether the data is reasonable and realistic. You’re not predicting profit, but rather presenting information to be able to make assessments about the future.

In conclusion the latest Talent Shortage Survey for South Africa shows that accounting and finance staff are among the top 10 positions that employers in South Africa are having difficulty filling.

In light of this, it is no great surprise that as the industry changes, the way in which companies identify talent and recruit the best people, changes. To find the best talent organisations need specialised recruitment agencies that know the market, understand the skill requirements, are able to interpret the market conditions, and can identify the best possible candidates from the limited talent pool. Communicate Recruitment is a specialist Finance recruitment company and can assist with the sourcing, assessing, screening, and matching of candidate to ensure you find the right fit for your company the first time.

Need help and advice on how to take the next step in your career? Our consultants are experts in the Finance industry and will help you achieve your career goals and manage the entire recruitment process, from interview to offer stage. Connect with us today for top talent and great careers.
 Apply now.