Finance positions are advertised with job descriptions that emphasize work experience and educational achievements. But what usually makes one qualified candidate stand out amongst other qualified candidates are soft skills. 

Research shows that 97% of employers believe that soft skills are either as essential or more important than hard skills. For finance executives already in the workforce, soft skills could determine who gets promotions and recommendations. This article is a list of the most demanded soft skills in finance.

Soft skills finance executives should have

Communication skills

In finance, there’s a lot of number crunching and terminologies that might go right over the head of a non-finance person. But today’s finance team has to work with nearly all functions of the organization because traditional finance functions are expanding. Finance professionals need to be able to communicate clearly in both written and verbal form. The finance officer is able to explain problems and solutions in a way that a non-finance person can understand.

For recruiters, good communication skills are a highly valued quality. It precedes other interpersonal qualities like “team player”. The ability to communicate clearly is also one of the qualities that finance team managers must have.  

Time management

The finance and accounting profession is time-focused. Fiscal reports are supposed to create deadlines that keep accountants on their toes all the time. But it isn’t always so, finance professionals can procrastinate or give in to distractions. Especially while working remotely as is the new normal. Employers appreciate discipline in how finance executives manage their time. Such discipline makes coordinating a remote workforce easier and more effective.

Learning to create an efficient schedule and keeping up with it so that your deadlines are met indicates that you are reliable. It also testifies to your professional capacity and potential to manage more than just your time. Finance executives who show excellent time management skills gain an edge for promotions or even better employment opportunities.

Empathy

The ability to approach issues without bias and selfishness is in high demand across the workplace. The pandemic exposed many top managers as lacking the capability to identify with their subordinates. A recent study showed that many of them put profitability above the welfare of their employees.

Traditionally, finance officers are expected to bury sentiments and focus on the figures and facts alone. But the world of work is changing, 63% of job seekers believe work-life balance is more important than the amount on a paycheck. Talented individuals are seeking work environments where they feel heard, seen and appreciated.

An empathetic outlook includes an understanding of different personality types and how it affects motivation to work. An empathetic individual also knows how to really listen and ask the right questions.

Critical thinking

Critical thinking is a term that’s used quite liberally, just like problem-solving. But employers are actually looking for evidence of those soft skills. They want finance professionals that can analyze problems and identify the causes and proffer solutions. Beyond that, they want professionals who can analyze data to predict and prevent problems.

Rather than take the garbage in garbage out approach to solving problems, critical thinkers ask tough questions. They want to understand the ‘whys’ and ‘hows’ of the data presented. That sort of critical analysis enables finance professionals to provide more accurate financial plans and strategies. And that is why critical thinking is such an important soft skill.

Collaboration

The finance team generally comes across as standoffish. They dwell in their numbered world that very few can enter or understand. But all that is changing, in today’s finance industry, finance executives are expected to do more than just crunch numbers. They are expected to understand and control business systems, gather and analyze data. To fulfill all the obligations expected of them, finance teams need to collaborate more with other departments.

Working well with people in and out of the finance team to drive comprehensive results is a valuable skill. It makes you a team player which is a top skill demanded by employers.

Quick Adaptation

Since 2020, the finance sector has witnessed a lot of rapid changes due to the pandemic and its effect on the economy. Today there’s a lot more dependency on internet-based systems, because of public health concerns. New concerns arise every day on issues of liquidity and cybersecurity. 

Being able to adapt quickly to new and challenging situations while searching for more permanent solutions is an invaluable skill. Ernst & Young took a survey recently that had about 400 participants. About 62% of the participants agreed that the agility to adapt continuously as situations change is the most important soft skill for CFOs.

Networking

There is so much development going on in the finance and accounting sector presently. Innovations in best practices and tech come up every other day. Even with a full team of accountants and financial officers, the CFO might not be able to keep up with all the new developments. And even when they know, it might not be feasible to try out all these solutions.

Networking allows you to establish beneficial connections in and outside your immediate work environment. Good networking skills provide you with a pool of resources that your firm can benefit from. Information and ideas can be exchanged ethically and save you time and resources.

Risk management

Usually when it comes to finance, erring on the side of caution is the norm. However, willingness to experiment and take calculated risks is the second most coveted soft skill. And that is according to 54% of the 2020 E&Y survey participants. “Why?” you ask? Well, take a look at the businesses that have led the way in finance, post-pandemic they had CFOs that were willing to take risks on new business models and technologies.

73% of the survey participants said that risk aversion and prioritizing costs above all else is a characteristic of their team. A larger number agree that such traditional mindsets are one reason why modernization is coming slowly in finance.

Learn More about Soft Skills in Finance Executives in Our Community

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