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How to get hired: your must-have skills for accounting and finance jobs

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Accounting and finance roles are top of the list of ‘in-demand’ positions for businesses, but 92% of CFOs in the UK find it difficult to hire professionals with the desired skills, according to a Robert Half survey.

So what skills are employers looking for? Our Industry experts’ give you their inside view and reveal what they think are the key finance skills for finance professionals in 2016. 

Commercial acumen, strategy and flexibility

Giles McIntyre, associate director, Investigo
"Over the last six to 12 months there has been a greater focus overall on people with commercial and analytical skills within the accounting and finance field. Towards the latter part of the year employers required a mixture of pure technical skills; however, on the whole throughout 2015 the need arose for commercially focused individuals who have the ability to review financial information and really interrogate it. Moving into 2016 this trend is set to continue as more businesses place extra emphasis on understanding their market place and identifying what their strategy is for future growth."

Josh Rufus, manager – public practice, Morgan McKinley
"The modern accountant needs to be commercially savvy, with the ability to be able to communicate with people at all levels. Clients will be looking for people who are not only technically astute, but also have excellent interpersonal skills."

Andrew Setchell, director, Commerce & Industry, Robert Walters
"Accountants need to be seen to be as commercial as possible. We are working in ever-changing markets and roles, strategies and businesses reflect that. The candidates need to be willing to roll up their sleeves and muck in with all aspects of the business and not just focus on their core responsibilities. Companies want candidates who are readily adaptable and can change in evolving environments."

New reporting standards

Josh Rufus, Morgan McKinley
"From January 2016, financial reporting standards are changing, FRS 102 is replacing UK GAAP, so this skill will be highly sought after, particularly within small businesses."

Suggest improvements and communicate them well

Simon Smith, director, Commerce & Industry, Marks Sattin
"Being a good accountant and numbers person is no longer enough. Businesses now demand fantastic communication skills and for finance professionals to be engaged with the business and proactive in driving relationships and making business improvements.

Those with a strong technical background will be most in demand in 2016, reporting and analytical skills are key coupled with commercial acumen and industry experience. Negotiation, communication and business partnering are all hot topics and we have recently seen an increase in international roles with language skills."

The many languages of finance

Simon Smith, director, Commerce & Industry, Marks Sattin
"Employers are looking increasingly for industry specific experience, strong academic background and language skills. The biggest frustration is a lack of qualified accountants who speak a second language fluently."

Soft skills tech-savvy increasingly important…

Phil Sheridan, MD, Robert Half UK
"For 2016, accounting and finance professionals will continue to support the wider business. The role has shifted into the position of a strategic partner and more importance has been placed on soft skills to complement their technical ability. Top accounting and finance professionals are now expected to have (or at least to be developing) leadership experience, the ability to communicate with key stakeholders across the board and the ability to interpret and articulate findings from data."

Ann Swain, chief executive, Association of Professional Staffing Companies
"It appears that one of the most in-demand skill sets for 2016 centres around technology. Accountants who are ‘tech savvy’ and can demonstrate knowledge of business intelligence systems, data analytics and advanced modelling will be in high demand."

It will become increasingly important to be able to demonstrate how you can build relationships and communicate effectively with differing levels of personnel; as well as proving your technical competence that you can develop through studying ACCA.


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