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#100in2020: Top 8 essential skills in financial services for 2020
Economists are still up in the air about whether the COVID-19 outbreak will lead to a recession or depression. Either way, one of the above is headed in this direction, and the only way to weather the storm in India is to anticipate the clear skies that lie beyond. Make no mistake: recessions don’t last forever, and the best time to prepare for recovery is now. In our latest content series, we explore the top skills you can hire to propel your organisation to full recovery. Let’s get back to ‘Business as usual’ as soon as possible.
1. Relationship management
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.
2. Communicating the complex
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.
3. Technical Accounting
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.
4. 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.
5. 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 programmes in play today, it is also key to be adaptable to new systems and stay up to date on the latest processes and platforms.
6. Commercial value add
Sound commercial skills enable professionals to more accurately price and run projects, as well as to 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.
7. Change management
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 key in 2020.
8. Presentation skills
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 that attendees leave with a full understanding of what was being discussed. This is key in finance, particularly as professionals are now expected to adopt a business partnering approach to working across the business.