Why spreadsheet skills alone won't make the finance chiefs of the future

 
Hayley Kirton
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Want to be an accounting superstar? Focus on being a likeable person as well as a numbers whizz (Source: Getty)

For those looking to climb to the top of the finance career ladder, a good command of pivot tables on its own is no longer going to cut it, research out today shows.

A survey of more than 500 finance directors, chief finance officers and senior partners by the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW) showed those hoping for a blossoming career in finance needed to focus on improving their interpersonal skills.

The full report, shared exclusively with City A.M., found the top personal qualities likely to be in demand in the future were; being a likeable person, being trustworthy, showing resilience, being enthusiastic and positive, and not being afraid of change.

The report also showed companies were increasingly expecting a good command of technology from their bean counting crew.

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Sharon Spice, ICAEW director of global student recruitment, told City A.M. the issues with youngsters she saw weren't so much that they didn't recognise softer skills as being important for their job prospects but, rather, they placed too much emphasis on their academic achievements.

"I think people understand skills are important," Spice said. "I don't think they necessarily understand the weighting of that importance and how employers these days are really putting a greater focus on skills in their recruitment processes."

Spice added some students still seemed mystified by interpersonal skills, and actually ticked many of the boxes employers wanted without realising it.

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"[Students] probably do have some of these skills. What they don't necessarily know how to do very well is articulate that, particularly when it comes to the point of interview," Spice said.

However, anybody hoping they can ditch the textbooks is out of luck. The research also found that boss still consider technical financial knowledge to be a key requirement for their hires.

The ICAEW research was released on the eve of A-Level results day.

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