New world, new skills finance professionals need

April 27, 2021

by Barry Payne, Director, External Relations — Management Accountant, AICPA

Even before the pandemic, digital transformation and new ways of working were significantly influencing the skills and capabilities finance teams need. The coronavirus pandemic accelerated that need as people and businesses sought digital experiences and solutions more than ever.

Based on conversations I had with CFOs worldwide, I shared insights [listen here via podcast]. They told me the skills and competencies finance teams must develop to adequately support the business in today’s world. Still as relevant now as they were a few months ago, these skills include:

1. Knowledge of transformative technology
We’ve all had a crash course in working side by side with technologies over the past year. As our organization’s data has moved to the cloud and month-end closes have become automated, finance has had to get familiar with technologies such as robotic process automation, blockchain and data analytics applications.

Organizations have fast-tracked digital transformations to protect and serve customers in many ways and adapt to new business models.

Building skills to support this rapid transformation and being able to use technologies will put you in a great position. Our free Digital Mindset Pack offers members a chance to take a deeper dive into technologies such as robotic process automation and data analytics.

2. Comfort with analyzing and presenting data
If working side by side with technology is important, the ability to use the tools and data at your disposal to affect decisions is even more critical.

“We need to be able to tell the story in a more convincing and succinct way,” the finance leader of a Fortune 500 manufacturing services company told me recently. After he grappled with how to make strides in digital finance transformation, he spent time with his business and finance team to effectively change management reporting from thousands of pages of information to a set of dashboards.

The change was challenging because it forced a new way of working as well as a new way of thinking ­— not only in terms of the generation of data but also in the ability to present data in a meaningful way.

The Association (AICPA® and CIMA®) offers several resources to help finance and accounting professionals grow their data analytics skills. Some of these include our data analytics certificate programs, articles and podcasts and an interactive data analytics quiz to test your skills.

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