The 8 vital skills any good finance manager should possess
Being a financial manager nowadays involves much more than monitoring a company’s cash flow as the industry continues to evolve largely due to the emergence of new technology. Finance professionals are required to play a vital role in the financial development of an organization which requires skills beyond just having the right bachelor's or master's degree.
Below are 8 skills any finance manager worth their salt should seek to hone in order to advance their career:
1. Strategic and analytical skills
The emergence of accounting software and programs has opened the door for accountants and finance managers to spend more time and energy focusing on using data analysis and financial analysis to help their companies or clients grow through strategic decision-making, budgeting, and the right investments when it comes to their financial activity.
Finance professionals and, more specifically, chartered financial analysts (CFA) need to approach problem-solving in a creative way and find innovative solutions in an ever-changing environment. The job description of a financial manager is no longer just about crunching numbers and financial reports. Financial professionals need to possess the analytical ability and know-how to look at those numbers and really understand what the data is saying.
Financial reporting, studying market trends, and forecasting are just a few of the roles in which require cutting-edge analytical skills.
2. Be tech-savvy
Technology has changed the financial services industry, not just for finance managers but also for clients who now also have easy access to their income statements, financial statements, balance sheets, and other documents via new accounting software. Most work has migrated to cloud accounting applications making data available and accessible across multiple platforms. This means that accountants need to have a strong grasp of such software and when needed, they need to help clients navigate it too.
There are many programs out there like Oracle, Hyperion, and Xero and it is important to obtain proficiency in as many of these as possible while also staying up-to-date with any new or emerging technologies and trends.
It is easy to see why being adaptable is an important skill in financial management. The ever-changing nature of the industry, the advisory role many accountants need to take, and the constant advancements in technology mean that finance leads need to think and work on their feet. They must be ready to change and adapt to new situations when needed.
4. Honesty and strong values
There are very strict legal and compliance guidelines that finance managers need to work within to ensure their clients’ activities are above board and within the law. Beyond adhering to these guidelines, a finance manager who is honest and has strong ethics is highly valued in an industry that places a lot of emphasis on transparency and integrity.
5. Strong communication skills
Whether in a client-facing or corporate finance position, possessing strong communication skills is of the utmost importance for a finance manager. In a corporate setting, finance managers need to develop strong inter-departmental relationships. They are in constant communication with executives and board members helping them make the right decisions to reach the company's financial goals.
For finance managers working in public practice, harnessing trust and loyalty from clients is what keeps their operation financially viable.
Finance managers need to be ready to communicate with people across all mediums as different clients might prefer different channels like phone calls, emails, instant messaging apps, or the good old-fashioned face-to-face meeting.
A good finance manager is one who knows how to break down complex financial jargon into a language that clients can easily understand. Finally, it is important to remember that being a good communicator means being equally skilled at listening, understanding, and empathizing.
6. Leadership skills
At more senior levels, finance managers will likely find themselves in a position where they need to manage a team of accountants or finance officers. This means that, as finance officers’ careers progress, they need to start thinking about what sort of leader they’re going to be and hone their managerial skills.
As more companies move towards flatter organizational structures, individuals working at all seniority levels have the opportunity to lead and collaborate within a team.
The COVID-19 pandemic has added an extra challenge for leaders and executives who now find themselves having to manage teams virtually.
7. Industry-specific knowledge
Finance managers working for clients or companies in particular industries like healthcare, travel, business administration, or insurance companies can bring a lot more to the table if they gain knowledge and a clear understanding of the sectors they’re working in.
A strong grasp of finance and accounting is obviously needed but going the extra mile can really take you to the next level.
8. Keep learning
Obtaining your bachelor's degree and the relevant accreditation such as becoming a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) is a big step towards developing a strong reputation as a high-quality finance manager.
Like any position, being constantly open to learning and seeking out opportunities to do so will ensure that you are always at the top of your game.
One way to do this is by taking CPE (Continuing Professional Education) courses which keeps you up-to-date with industry and regulation changes. Naturally, one of the best ways to improve your skill set in the world of accountancy is through the work experience itself.
Entry-level finance officers often get the opportunity to work with mentors within their firms. This is an invaluable opportunity to learn the ins and outs of the industry and map out their career trajectory.