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The importance of soft skills

Given the challenges finance professionals are facing - managing increased reporting demands (heavier workload) and implementing change (new systems and processes) – it is unsurprising that ability to influence at board level (14%) and presentation/communication skills (13%) are among the top skills respondents say they need to develop.

Tips to develop communications and influencing skills include:

  • Define the right structure for communications and adhere to it – e.g. monthly one to ones with key stakeholders
  • Manage the tone of communication for different audiences – for example a technical finance department vs. the business leadership team
  • Prioritise relationship development, even if team delegation is required to free up the time to make it happen
  • Engage with and overcome resistance to change
  • Benefits-sell to be persuasive – always explain to people what’s in it for them
  • Determine how individual success can inspire teams and others
  • Hone soft skills by practicing with teams and peers
Excellent technical skills and qualifications are a given in talented finance professionals. It’s the ability to influence and interact at the highest levels – both within the finance function and the wider business – that counts.