US financial professionals fear skills gap

Salaries and bonus allocation among US financial professionals climbed last year, but many are concerned that growing skills gap inside their organisations could hamper their careers in the future. That’s according to a new survey from the Association for Financial Professionals (AFP), which profiled 3,000 US professionals working in the sector.

Skills gap

Although leadership and ‘people’ skills are basic requisites in most professional industries, the report points to concerns these skills are lacking across the finance sector. According to the AFP, 45% of those polled say that financial professionals in their organisations lack core leadership skills, although 53% agree this is a core requirement.

“Financial professionals should be pleased that their organisations value their efforts enough to award salary increases and bonuses, but more attention needs to be paid to addressing the critical skills gap,” says Jim Kaitz, the AFP’s president and chief executive officer (CEO). “When organisations provide additional training and education for their staff, everybody wins.”

Drilling down into which skills financial professionals are worried about, another is the ability to manage interpersonal relationships. While 38% say this is an essential skill, a similar number report there is a skills gap in their organisation when it comes to this expertise.

Perhaps more worrying is that while 31% believe strategic planning is a core requisite, 42% of respondents believe the scarcity of this skill among financial professionals at their organisations is impeding job performance.

Finally, communication. Among those polled 36% say this is an essential skill and 32% believe the ability to communicate things like ideas, strategy and logistics is lacking where they work.

Salaries climb 3.6%

While salaries increased an average of 3.6% compared to a year earlier, that growth is actually smaller than in 2014 when salaries increased 4.1%. Still, last year’s growth is still up from the 3% in base pay increase in the US last year.

Meanwhile the number of bonuses awarded inched up last year, with 75% of organisations handing out bonuses; up from 72% a year earlier and 71% in 2013. In terms of how big those bonuses were, the AFP report says execs picked up an average of US$60,696 – the equivalent of 34% of base salary.

Some 61% of those bonuses were pegged to hitting income or earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) targets and 51% were related to specific projects.





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