With the political and economic climate remaining uncertain as we enter a new decade, finance professionals across the country will need to remain adaptable to changes in the market. Those with specialist knowledge will be in particularly high demand, along with experts in cross-border issues, and regulatory changes. In complex times where effective collaboration is essential, stakeholder management skills are also highly valued.
Of course, the core skill sets that determine a great finance professional are still highly prized, but in order to effectively navigate the evolving market, there are some stand out skills that will be crucial in 2020.
Working with stakeholders and building strong working relationships is now key for any finance professional. No longer just a supporting or back office function, finance teams are now expected to build and manage strong relationships across the business. By boosting awareness around costs within the operational side of the business, finance professionals can help improve compliance and manage efficient processes. The proper management of stakeholders, ensuring that they are engaged with the purpose of the finance team, can also help raise the profile of the function.
The ability to communicate effectively, negotiate, and influence, are crucial skills in finance. Explaining the more complex processes of finance in layman's terms is a skill in its own right, and one that is crucial in ensuring business functions are aligned. With finance professionals now being required to engage more with the wider business, this will become increasingly important. Effective business partners need to be seen as trusted advisors which is why a deep understanding of their audience and an ability to deliver information clearly is so important.
These professionals are responsible for many of the day-to-day tasks within the accounting function and are fundamental to the successful running of an organisation. Moving into 2020, technical accounting skills will be key in navigating new regulations, business processes, and unprecedented challenges. With Brexit in full swing, cross-border issues are only expected to rise and talented technical accountants will become increasingly sought after.
Audit project management
Strong project management skills ensure efficient commercial corporate finance delivery. Core competencies include budgeting, progress monitoring, and time management. Professionals who are responsible for developing and overseeing finance projects are key in ensuring deliverables meet the business needs and that all deadlines are hit. In an audit, a great deal of attention to detail and organisation is needed, and therefore it is highly beneficial for firms to employ someone to manage the process in its entirety. Professionals who are competent in managing these audits are key in determining whether a business has met the agreed goals and objectives.
Technical finance systems
Today, professionals skilled in fintech software applications such as CCH, Alpha Tax, and Xero are highly employable. Such systems ensure accounts are aligned with new standards which lowers business risks, and facilitates integrated collaboration and a real-time view of business cash flows. Whilst it is important to be on top of the programs in play today, it is also key to be adaptable to new systems and stay up to date on the latest processes and platforms.
Commercial value add
Sound commercial skills enable professionals to more accurately price and run projects, and truly add value to a business. This is particularly key for actuarial, retail banking, and insurance roles. These professionals not only possess a deep understanding of the business and knowledge of key competitors, they can also identify how trends in the market might impact the business. This is crucial in adapting to changing consumer demands and remaining competitive in an ever-evolving market.
What works today may not work tomorrow, so strong change management skills are essential for creating contingency plans and strategies that are flexible enough to allow agile responses to a turn in the market. A proven track record in such endeavours will always impress a prospective employer. Those who are skilled in assessing and implementing solutions to manage both unexpected changes and large-scale business transformations will be in key moving forward into 2020.
Holding an engaging and memorable presentation is a crucial skill today. Not only do professionals need to be engaging and able to capture the attention of the room, they also need to ensure those they are presenting in such a way that attendees leave with a full understanding of what was being discussed. In finance this is key, particularly as professionals are now expected to adopt a business partnering approach to working across the business.
At a time when expenditure and budgets are closely monitored, finance teams are central to a business’s longer-term forecasts. As such, professionals need to continually evaluate their internal costs and identify where savings can be made. This should also be balanced with investing in new technology to automate processes that can improve efficiencies. Robust cost plans, strong controls and tangible value add need to be demonstrated whilst always checking the bottom line.
Linked closely to project management, the ability to adapt as new projects come up or unexpected situations arise is essential. With 2020 set to be a year of huge economic and political change, finance professionals across the board will need to be adaptable to the new challenges and opportunities that a post-Brexit market will bring.
To find out more about how we can support your hiring processes and source the right talent for your team, get in touch with your local Michael Page Finance team. If you would like to explore your career opportunities in finance, be sure to sign up to MyPage to make the most of our Job Match tool.