We’re not talking about “soft skills” like communication or problem solving. Today’s finance departments are being expected to have proficiencies in areas that go way beyond crunching the numbers.
So finds a new study from the number-crunching advocates at the AICPA. An overwhelming 85% of finance execs now say their teams’ roles have been expanding in recent years. And with no end in sight.
Take a look at the five areas where finance is expanding into now and how to keep your own department evolving with the changing demands.
How many of these do your staffers have now?
Your fellow CFOs identified five specific areas where their staffers are now being expected to get involved, some of which may surprise you:
- strategic business planning (58%)
- IT development and cybersecurity (55%)
- management and corporate governance (46%)
- legal and compliance (44%), and
- human resources (40%).
Now here’s how to make sure your own finance staffers are prepared for whatever’s expected of them next.
4 strategies expand their skill sets and Finance’s value
Expecting your Payroll clerk to suddenly be a legal eagle may be a tall order.
But there are ways you can expand your department’s collective skill set in ways that don’t break the bank or your staffers’ capacities. Consider these strategies:
- Play to their strengths. Just because finance departments are being expected to expand their competencies doesn’t mean every member of your team has to master all those skills. You know your team and you’ve probably seen that certain members have certain proclivities. So that A/P staffer everyone goes to for help with the online vendor portal could be a great candidate to beef up his IT skills.
- Look for complimentary fits. Certain finance functions lend themselves more naturally to those non-financial skills than others. So for example, because of all the contract law involved, your A/R staffers could be a natural choice to develop legal skills. We even know some credit and collections staffers who’ve taken paralegal classes on the side because of an interest piqued by their day-to-day responsibilities in Finance.
- Revisit your new-hire strategy. If you’re planning to expand your headcount in Finance, it’s a great opportunity to round out your team. No better place to do that than with your entry-level positions. You might think about hiring someone with an IT background for an entry-level slot in your finance department. You can teach that individual the financial skills needed and will get the expanded knowledgebase that can help not only your department but your company as a whole.
- Focus on the top skill. If you can only develop one of the new skills on the list, try to cultivate the top one: strategic business planning. That’s the competency the majority of your peers believe will be needed in the next one to three years. And it’s something you can work on with everyone every day in subtle ways. Be sure to explain the big picture motivations behind not only changes but finance policies as well. When staffers come to you with a problem, help them to solve it with the larger strategic framework in mind. Little by little they’ll start to think that way themselves.