The vast majority of Chief Financial Officers looking to appoint new staff for their businesses believe it is important for each potential employee to have both a breadth and depth of finance expertise and capabilities, a new report from the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) reveals.
"The Complete Finance Professional: Why Breadth and Depth of Finance Capability Matter in Today’s Finance Function" report surveyed nearly 500 CFOs in the UK, Malaysia, Russia, China and the UAE.
"Our research shows that recruiters are looking to appoint the complete finance professional, and seek out newly qualified accountants who have breadth and depth of skills," says Helen Brand OBE, chief executive of ACCA.
ACCA's view is that the environment in which finance professionals now work requires them to bring a broader range of finance skills to the table. Finance functions now have to be excellent in a wide range of capabilities, from supporting businesses to managing risk, developing effective strategies for growth, driving financial insight, continuing to maintain appropriate levels of control across the organisation as well as ensuring its statutory and regulatory responsibilities are met.
"More than 80 percent of respondents said a complete understanding of the finance value chain - from budgeting to external reporting - and how all this fits together, was critical," says Brand. "The finance team has to meet the challenges posed by a post-crisis global economy which is increasingly volatile, complex and competitive - and given the breadth of financial activities that finance leaders are now engaged in, it is hardly surprising that they are looking to recruit employees with a broad range of skills and understanding."
The report shows the importance of newly qualified finance professionals having a good working knowledge of different finance areas also resulted in high scores for each subject – for instance, 96 percent said newly qualified finance professionals should know about financial management; and 94 percent said it was important to have a good understanding of professionalism and ethics.
Management skills scored 73 percent while stakeholder relationship management came lower down the ranking at 68 percent, possibly because CFOs responsible for hiring would see this as a development for the future.
The most beneficial grounding to help a newly qualified finance professional on the path to being a future leader was a full appreciation of financial and management accounting, at 61 percent, with 17 percent saying a strong strategic focus was also an excellent grounding.
Eighty-nine percent said that understanding the links between all areas of finance enabled recruits to minimise future financial risks and 88 per cent said it also enabled them to deal with financial challenges. 80 percent said it would enable their new recruit to take their career in any direction they chose.
When it comes to sustainable business growth, 76 percent said it "really adds value to their business" for their finance professionals to have the complete finance knowledge and skills set, from both financial and strategic management accounting.
"The need for finance staff to have a broad range of skills and expertise throughout the finance value chain is of prime importance to CFOs - and is therefore of equal importance to individuals looking to plan their careers and maximise their employability," says Brand. "Traditional career routes within the finance function are changing – we are seeing new types of finance roles emerging for example in shared services or global business service operations."