- 86% of CFOs say business analytics skills are mandatory for "at least some" accounting and finance positions in their company, and yet those skills are the hardest to find, research from Robert Half Finance & Accounting indicates.
- The five most important attributes in finance job candidates the survey identified are technology experience or aptitude (32%), functional job skills (21%), leadership abilities (18%), interpersonal or communication skills (16%), and organizational culture fit (12%). The findings are based on responses from 1,100 CFOs of U.S. companies.
- Robert Half's findings reflect those of a 2018 Gartner study shared during a recent Gartner CFO conference that revealed the majority of finance jobs were in pursuit of the same handful of skills, chief among them data analysis, collaboration and digital tool mastery.
"Finance now is such a strategic partner with the business," Kathy Downs, recruiting manager for Robert Half Finance & Accounting, told CFO Dive. "Having people who can synthesize [financial] data in a meaningful way is absolutely key to being top of the class, no matter the industry."
In Downs' experience, finance and IT teams have always been "totally different verticals" within a business, but now, "that's all blending together," she said. "Finance people need to have the skills to run these reports and to marry systems that don't necessarily talk to each other."
The business analytics skills that finance teams are seeking in new hires are imperative for the digital tools finance teams use today, including cloud-based systems, mobile applications, artificial intelligence and machine learning.
To compensate for candidates lacking these skill attributes, managers are instituting training to help finance staff acquire tech, communication and other skills. More than 90% of companies offer internal "professional development opportunities to build business analytics skills," the survey found.
"The volume of information and available analytics tools are resulting in new insights and better processes for organizations," Steve Saah, executive director of Robert Half, wrote in a company press release regarding the survey. "With access to new data and technologies, teams are able to spend less time on manual tasks and focus on higher-value work."
The onus is on the company to bridge the skill gap with internal programming, Saah said, adding, "Neither the demand for technology skills nor the lack of them available is going away soon."
"By providing professional development on new and emerging tools, companies can upskill their existing teams and make themselves more attractive employers," Saah said.