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Finance Chiefs Require Broader Skillset for Their Teams

Amazing-personIn a recent Financial Times article, Sally Fisher of Deloitte noted that while they are not new skills, “you rarely find in one individual strong technical skills, strong commercial acumen and strong behavioral skills.”

She’s right. Fortunately, CGMA designation holders are a step ahead in satisfying the ever-changing needs of their organizations. In the years of experience and education that led to earning their designations, they have worked to complement their financial skills with the business acumen needed to contribute fact-based analysis and recommendations on a range of topics critical to corporate operations and strategy.

Management accountants have a unique opportunity to step in and act as key advisers to their companies by looking at strategic and operational areas outside of finance.

The CGMA report, New Skills, Existing Talents, shows us that the shift of finance professionals away from a sole focus on traditional tasks linked to the reporting cycle has been inconsistent across the business world. Additionally, we found that a large majority (75%) of global finance executives reported that when finance professionals work in a management support role, the organization better meets it objectives.

“The board needs individuals in finance to start operating very differently. It needs people who can lead change and transformation,” Fisher said. “Today I hardly ever hear a finance chief saying that technical skills are the issue. It’s all around behavioral skills.”

Finally, Fisher noted that profit has to come from innovative growth. “The problem is that individuals in finance have not been developed or rewarded for being overly innovative,” she said. In the CGMA report, Managing innovation: Harnessing the power of finance, we noted that management accountants play a vital role in turning creative ideas into commercially successful innovations. From helping support and foster an innovative mindset within the business, to implementing new ideas effectively and managing risk across a portfolio of projects, there are numerous ways in which finance professionals support the innovation process. There are few innovations, or innovation-led organizations, that are truly successful without the input and influence of management accountants and the finance team.

How have skills outside of the core finance function helped you in your career as a management accountant? Or, if you’re a hiring manager, what skills do you look for your new hires to have?

Arleen Thomas, CPA, CGMA, Senior Vice President - Management Accounting, American Institute of CPAs.

Person image via Shutterstck

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