Study finds soft skills the key to finance success

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Finance professionals cite strong leadership skills as the top attribute that contributes to the success of finance and accounting professionals, according to a survey by Robert Half UK.

The recruitment consultancy said that in a poll of more than 200 chief financial officers (CFOs) and finance directors (FDs) in the UK, 60% picked leadership skills as the top attribute for career success ahead of strong technical skills (47%) and effective communication (33%).

Other skills mentioned by respondents were a competitive nature (32%), futuristic outlook (30%), strong interpersonal skills (17%) and risk taking (16%).

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

The most common cross-departmental challenge identified was managing stress arising from crisis situations (42%), a situation where leadership and effective communication skills come into their own.

Prioritising conflicting deadlines throughout the company (26%), learning to interact with a variety of personalities (15%) and conveying financial information in non-financial terms (14%) were the other main challenges listed, “solutions to all of which lend themselves well to the key skills for success outlined by the FDs and CFOs surveyed,” the firm commented.

Phil Sheridan, Robert Half UK’s managing director, added: “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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