Most in-demand skills

In these strange times, what are the core and non-accounting skills that are top of the 'important' list?

Despite the uncertainties of 2020, there are a range of core and non-core skills that trainees should bear in mind as confidence begins to return.

In this uncertain time, many businesses are looking to staff accounting and finance positions with temporary and part-time professionals who they can count on to get the job done – and, perhaps, work remotely. And the experience could put you on the path to finding more permanent employment sooner.

The scope of accounting and finance positions has been expanding over time, and especially so in recent years. In particular, trainees must collaborate and coordinate more often with colleagues in other departments.

As a result, it is important to know what other functions do and how the work of the accounting and finance organisation helps to support their initiatives.

The better you understand the overall workings of the business, and how you and your team fit into the ‘big picture’, the more productive your relationships outside your department will be.

‘As confidence returns, we would expect more commercial-facing roles to return to the market as organisations put their efforts into strong revenue growth’

Reporting

In the short term, organisations seem likely to continue to prioritise roles with more of a technical and statutory reporting bias, particularly in organisations or functions where observing regulatory requirements is a top priority, irrespective of what is happening in the wider market.

Lee Owen, director at Hays Accountancy & Finance, says: ‘In the UK, we’ve also seen demand for skills in credit control to help improve cash flow requirements and payroll professionals to help manage the roll out of the job retention scheme.

‘Furthermore, candidates with a mix of strong finance, IT and systems skills have been in high demand in order to make processes more streamlined and efficient.’

Owen adds: ‘As confidence returns, we would expect more commercial-facing roles to return to the market as organisations put their efforts into strong revenue growth.’

Communication

Recruiter Robert Half believes stay-at-home orders have put communication abilities front and centre among must-have skills as many workers have transitioned to remote jobs.

The good news is that accounting and finance professionals have had to hone one of these abilities for years: presenting information in an easy-to-digest manner, especially for audiences that are not as numbers-savvy.

The ability to relay information clearly and concisely by enhancing your verbal and writing skills is essential.

More good news is that working from home may have this skill already, as you have had to turn to email (writing skills) and video platforms (verbal skills) for each and every daily interaction, from business requests to simple morning greetings.

Adaptability and flexibility were also top among the skills accounting and finance professionals needed, even before the pandemic. Technological change, like the rise of artificial intelligence (AI) as a critical business tool, was a key driver for that trend, and you can expect that it will remain so.