Date posted: 13/05/2019 3 min read

Face the future with confidence

The must-have skills in the golden age of big data.

In Brief

  • High-performing finance teams will need the skills to quickly identify and draw out meaningful insights to support business decisions
  • Communication, adaptability and agility, and the ability to solve problems are seen as the most important skills
  • A commitment to lifelong learning is essential for finance professionals because of the pace of technological change

Written by: Charlotte Evett, CA ANZ Commercial Lead, Education & Learning

New technologies, the shift to digital, and the ensuing data explosion have provided a catalyst for finance teams to shed their 'support staff only' image in favour of becoming genuine value-add business partners.

This has forced a change in the talent profile and the skillset of the future focused finance professional, as high-performing finance teams embrace technological innovations to improve effectiveness, increase efficiency and enhance insight.

Add data analysis to technical skills

While finance professionals have accounting and finance skills, they now also need competency in data analysis, data science and data visualisation to make the most of new and existing technologies. Members of the finance team must have the competencies necessary to make data-led decisions that support an organisation’s purpose and strategy.

As business partners, the finance team members will be instrumental in identifying which business decisions need to be made, and creating and sourcing the data needed for those decisions. However, now and in the future, the problem may be having access to too much data. This means finance professionals will need to be able to recognise what information is relevant; to whom it is relevant; and when to use it.

But human skills are essential

Nevertheless, technical competency is no longer enough on its own. Research by Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand (CA ANZ) found that businesses rate human skills, historically referred to as 'soft skills', as the most important skills for the future. The research, which formed the basis for the CA ANZ thought leadership paper The Future of Talent – Opportunities Unlimited, revealed that businesses rate 'human skills', such the ability to communicate, adaptability and agility, and the ability to solve problems as the most important skills to have in the future. The ability to build relationships quickly was also rated as very important. While finance teams must be able to sort through the growing volume of data to find and provide true insights, they must first build strong relationships within the business to be a true business partner.

Successful finance teams of the future will be technically competent and have strong human skills.
Source: Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand The Future Of Talent – Opportunities Unlimited 2018

A passion for lifelong learning

Members of high-performing future-ready finance teams will never stop learning. The rapidly changing business environment will necessitate that they constantly change and update their skills. This requires a commitment to constant improvement and a willingness to continuous learning. A growth mind-set is essential, and ironically the same technology that has forced the need for constant learning, also offers time-poor finance professionals with easily accessible learning options.

CA ANZ provides members with access to a wide range of learning resources, many of them free of charge. For example, members have free access to the entire suite of online LinkedIn learning products and CA Catalyst, our strategic programme which provides practical resources, tool and insights from technology and innovation experts. Courses range from data science and excel, through to leadership and management.

Data Analytics for Finance Conference

Join us with David Lacire from @robert walters and Myles Matheson from @microsoft at the Data Analytics for Finance Conference on June 12 to hear more about the future-ready finance team.

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