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Finance jobs are among the highest-paid jobs in the market. Hence, a career in finance is highly desirable. In today’s competitive job market, it is essential for finance professionals to demonstrate more than just education from top schools. Combining top skills and skillfully penned application material can help you get past the crowd. Your resume, cover letter, and LinkedIn profile should aptly and concisely convey the skills that you can leverage in the role.
Finance leaders are pushing for the digitization of business and services. Therefore, the skills for the emerging digital era of finance will be a mix of digital and traditional finance skills. In this article, we will look into future skills in finance.
1. Core Financial Skills
To make your resumé stand out for a finance job, you need a combination of multiple skills on it. University education alone may not be enough to cut through the immense competition as the market for finance, jobs is cutthroat. Along with digital savviness, you need to get your basics right. We suggest adding the following skills to your resume to gain a competitive edge over the application pool:
a. Accounting & Finance Qualification: Certifications are a great way to demonstrate your dedication and passion for the field. They show that you have put time and effort into expanding your knowledge and gaining specialized skills. Below is a list of top accounting and finance qualifications:
- A certified financial planner (CFP)
- Chartered financial consultant (ChFC)
- Chartered financial analyst (CFA)
- Chartered investment counselor (CIC)
- Retirement income certified professional (RICP)
- Certified public accountant (CPA)
- Certified management accountant (CMA)
- Accredited investment fiduciary (AIF)
- Chartered alternative investment analyst (CAIA)
- Financial risk manager (FRM)
b. Financial Planning and Analysis (FP&A): FP&A is a combination of four activities that support the organization’s financial health. These include planning and budgeting, integrated financial planning, management and performance reporting, and forecasting and modeling. Using an FP&A system, finance teams can combine financial, operational, and external data in one place, analyze it and uncover more profound insights. These insights are then used for the future. Check out the FP&A course by Wallstreet prep to give your resume a skills bump.
c. Risk Analysis: It assesses underlying uncertainties of a given course of action. For finance, this may include uncertainty of forecasted cash flow streams, the variance of portfolio or stock returns, or possible future economic states. Risk analysts work closely with forecasting teams to minimize future adverse effects. To succeed as a risk analyst, you need to demonstrate:
- Strong numeracy
- Analytical thinking
- Strategic thinking
- Commercial awareness
- Data analysis skills
2. Data Analysis & Literacy
Analytics has become a key driver in value creation for most businesses, including finance. Finance teams need people who can understand the expanding analytical processes, roles, and capabilities. Leaders need to help stakeholders understand, interpret, and use financial data to make intelligent operational decisions. You will need to demonstrate the following three skills to demonstrate familiarity with data:
a. Data literacy: Finance teams need individuals who can read, write, and communicate data with an understanding of the data points, analytical methods, and techniques applied. They should also be able to describe use case applications and resulting business value. Leaders need data-driven financial insights to identify growth opportunities and present them to the broader organizations.
b. Advanced analytics: Advanced analytics signifies semi-autonomous or autonomous examination of data by tools and techniques beyond traditional analytics and business intelligence (BI). It leverages data from across the organization, including sales, operations, and finance, combined with third-party data to present deeper insights focused on its strategic priorities. Advanced analytics can be applied to:
c. Digital bias management: There is growing concern among leaders for their teams to be able to understand and interpret data correctly. It is expected from the upcoming talent to develop the ability to understand and articulate bias in data presented to them. Such skill comes from critically analyzing the forecasts and findings and cross-referencing from multiple sources. For e.g., FP&A analysts trained in digital bias are skeptical of financial projections that are highly optimistic or pessimistic before factoring in the risks of human decision-making.
3. Technology and Automation
We have been hearing the buzz around automation technologies for over a decade. Let’s break them down and understand their impact in this section. Technology is rapidly penetrating finance and other business domains. According to a report by Gartner, finance leaders prioritize the digitization of finance business functions. Hence, it would be wise to add one or more of the following automation technologies to your resumé:
a. Cloud Financial Management System: A financial management system (FMS) is software that organizations use to manage assets, income, and expenses. A cloud FMS is the version of a traditional in-house FMS hosted on the cloud. It hosts, manages, and stores the same data on the cloud, and the cloud software produces the reporting of usable information. Since it is a pay-as-you-go service, organizations do not have to invest in building servers and software to stare and manage data. The Cloud FMS performs the same functions, reducing accounting errors, maintaining audit trails, and compliance.
b. Robotic Process Automation (RPA): It is the process of using software bots to execute the business process using the same interfaces people use. With RPA, organizations can automate tasks like account reconciliation, financial statements, client onboarding, and tax reporting with minimum human intervention. Additionally, by using RPA, businesses can achieve higher efficiency and returns, and reduce errors and human involvement, while automating documentation and standardization. According to a study, RPA and other workflow automation are the second priority of CFOs.
c. Artificial Intelligence/Machine Learning (AI/ML): Learning ML and neural networks can help you improve the efficiency of core functions in finance teams. For e.g., a manufacturer uses ML algorithms and analytics to monitor financial and business continuity risks. This helps the manufacturer reduce the cost of internal audits by 15-20 percent.
4. Soft Skills
As in any business function, soft skills are crucial in the finance domain as well. Gone are the days when finance professionals were confined inside their cubicles, crunching numbers. Now one of their prime duties is to deal with clients daily. These clients may be internal or external to the organization. As a finance professional, you should be able to demonstrate the following skills to get the attention of recruiters:
a. Leadership capabilities: Finance managers are increasingly being recognized as leaders. Employers look for ambitious, self-starter candidates who can take on executive and leadership roles when called upon. You should be able to adapt well to the constant changes and embrace continuous learning and personal development.
b. Client-centric behavior: Some finance roles require you to face external clients on a daily basis in a fast-paced setting. It is essential that they retain current customers, bring in new clients, and keep internal stakeholders happy. Customer “problems” or “pain points” should be considered as opportunities to improve services and enhance customer experience.
c. Business partnering & collaboration: Finance teams are sometimes isolated from other departments, resulting in a disconnect that leads to consequences such as poor resource allocation or overspending. Hence, today, financial leaders seek to build a more cohesive understanding and open communication between departments for the whole organization to follow the financial strategy. You should be able to demonstrate experience in teamwork and collaboration, as well as a willingness to work in inter-departmental teams.
Finance is a fast-paced and competitive industry. And as in any competitive industry, getting your first break is very difficult. You will have to demonstrate strong qualifications and combinations of specialized skills. To secure your place in a team, make yourself comfortable with automation technology and big data. If you are looking to break into or switch roles in the finance industry, we recommend networking with people working in your target roles or company. This will give you an idea about their roles & responsibilities, a typical workday, work-life balance, and company culture. If you need help with your job search or career strategy, we would be more than happy to help.