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What skills do you need?

Karen Young discusses the importance of developing the skills that employers are looking for

November 2015

Earlier this year, Hays Accountancy & Finance sought to find out more about how employees rated their skills and how this compared with their employer’s views of their teams’ skills. We found that there was a difference between how capable employees thought they were, and how employers deemed them to be. As the general outlook for finance professionals in the UK is positive and PQ accountants are very much in demand, it is important that you to develop the skills employers are looking for early on in your career and continue to prioritise your own professional development to keep up with the needs of the industry.
We found the skills that needed to be developed were the understanding of compliance and legislative frameworks and technical knowledge, both of which you will learn as you complete your study and your experience within the finance world grows. However, commercial awareness was highlighted as a key area for development, yet less than half of finance professionals who cited this as critical to their success were taking steps to actually develop this skill. There was also great importance on developing ‘soft skills’.

Review and improve your soft skills
The result of the Hays Accountancy & Finance Capability Gap has highlighted that in the key soft skills of communication, organisation and time management and problem solving, finance professionals rate their proficiency far higher than their employers deem them to be. To improve and develop these, seek out feedback from your manager on where your skills may be lacking and ask whether you can have access for further training or development. This will ensure you can thrive in your current job, and give you an advantage when going for a promotion.

Utilise your connections
Use your connections and contacts to develop your knowledge of the industry and area in which your employer operates in order to develop your commercial awareness. Both of our reports, the DNA of a Partner and the DNA of a Finance Director, found that finance leaders said their top tip for the next generation of finance professionals was to be more commercially aware. To develop your commercial awareness, meet staff from other departments, ask what they do and the challenges they face in order to equip yourself with a better understanding of how the organisation operates.

Attend networking events
You need to know what’s happening in the finance departments in other organisations and industries to help get new ideas that you can develop in your own work. Attend institute and other commercial events to build a network of connections in the financial world and beyond, as these connections could prove really useful to you and valuable in the future.
Our research found that some of you may feel day-to-day activities can get in the way of professional development, but that your employers are recognising the need to embrace training. If you and your employers both commit to develop the skills you need, through your own proactive, independent learning and through formal training and development, you can unlock your potential.
Make sure you put yourself in the best place to develop in your current role and give yourself the most competitive advantage when going for a promotion or, of course, when looking to move to a new job.
For more information and access to job opportunities visit www.hays.co.uk/accountancy.
• Karen Young, Director, Hays Accountancy and Finance

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