New Skills Finance Pros Need in 2022
By Toni Buffa | Published September 16, 2022
In this rapidly changing world, finance professionals will need new skills to succeed. And since so much of this change is being driven by digital technology, it should be no surprise that many of these necessary skills will be tech-related. The coronavirus pandemic merely accelerated this digital shift and the corresponding demand for new skillsets in finance.
Here we provide an overview of some of the most critical skills for finance pros in 2022 and beyond.
1. Comfort with Analyzing and Presenting Data
Technology is providing new tools for analyzing and presenting data. Since so much of the world is growing more comfortable with technology, this means finance professionals must learn to use these tools effectively. Not only must they construct the narrative the data tells them, they must present that narrative in a convincing and succinct way.
Fortunately, the newest tech tools help with that narrative construction. Now comprehensive financial reports can be created in much less time. These reports can be designed to include visual representations of data that can help finance pros get their points across. In addition, much of the newest financial software includes dashboards that can present complex data in simple and straightforward ways.
2. Communication Outside the Finance Team
Long gone are the days when the CFO and finance team worked mainly behind the scenes. Now Finance often needs to collaborate with multiple departments within the organization. In addition, finance teams are more actively involved in communicating with people outside the normal “workgroup” of a company — investors, analysts, and other company stakeholders.
What does this mean for how the finance department communicates? For one thing, it means finance pros need the ability to explain financial concepts in simple terms that non-finance personnel can understand. Preferably, this explanatory ability should extend to both oral, written, and visual means.
The good news is that this need for outside-Finance communication dovetails nicely with the new technology that facilitates data presentation. In addition, finance technology can help finance pros answer questions about the company’s goals and performance, even if those questions come from various audiences.
3. Implementing Technology and Automation
Along with the ability to use technology, the modern finance pro also needs to know how to implement the latest tech with their finance teams. New digital technologies, such as artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML), can empower Finance to deliver more value to the company with less effort. With the assistance of technology, finance professionals can now analyze and process data in a fraction of the time with far more accuracy.
A central component of modern tech for finance is automation. This may come in the form of workflow automation, robotic process automation, or another variation. The key point is that automation can drastically reduce, if not eliminate, many of the manual tasks that are so time-consuming for finance teams. In addition to streamlining workflows and processes, automation allows for real-time visibility and faster reporting.
4. Digital Collaboration
Digital collaboration skills are more important than ever for finance professionals, just as they are for the wider professional world. The pandemic brought collaboration technology to the forefront with the sudden prominence of video conferencing. But the phenomenon extended even further to the widespread use of cloud-based file-sharing systems and non-email communication platforms, such as Slack.
While the pandemic recedes and hybrid or in-person workplaces become more common, the importance of digital collaboration remains. Cloud-based filing systems and communication platforms have proven to be excellent collaboration tools, with or without a need for social distancing. The finance pro who can use digital collaboration tools effectively is increasing the ROI of the entire finance team — and the ROI of the company as a whole.
5. Familiarity with Cybersecurity
Cybersecurity threats are some of the biggest risks for companies in the digital age. The finance team should be among the leaders in addressing these threats since a company’s finances are the primary target for cyberattacks. While finance professionals may not necessarily be expected to be cybersecurity experts, they should at least strive to be cybersecurity literate.
Finance pros can play a critical role in securing financial assets against cyberattacks. This is because they understand how the organization’s finances are organized and where the most critical data is located. In addition, finance professionals understand what systems are used to store and organize the company’s financial data.
Finance teams are also in an excellent position to quantify the risk associated with cyberattacks, including the economic and reputational damage that could occur. For example, what is the reputational risk of the company’s customer or vendor data being exposed? Or from service interruptions or litigation? This ability to quantify risk is critical when seeking to convince company leadership to make efforts toward greater cybersecurity — as well as knowing how to deal with cyberattacks when they occur.
Finally, finance professionals can provide informed decisions on the best allocation of cybersecurity spending. Instead of simply throwing cash at the cybersecurity problem, Finance can ensure the company makes well-considered budget decisions and takes simple steps, such as employee training on cybersecurity.
6. Smart Systems
Smart systems are yet another recent digital shift that finance professionals will need to understand. Smart sensors can now be installed in objects and equipment and collect data in real time. By utilizing the interconnectedness between these smart devices, known as the Internet of Things (IoT), we can now collect real-time data from equipment or the manufacturing floor, enabling immediate data analysis and feedback.
The finance professional who is familiar with IOT systems and applications will have an advantage in the future. When you can effectively collect data from IoT systems, this means you will have real-time data to perform essential finance functions, such as tracking ledgers and transactions. The IoT is the next frontier for Finance to look forward to in an increasingly digital society.
This list of new finance skills may seem daunting, but you should not be intimidated. All of these skills are relatively easy to learn, and developing them will allow finance professionals to take full advantage of technology and thrive in a digital world.
Toni is a member of the Integrify marketing team and writes for the Integrify blog. Toni lives in Colorado and loves animals of all stripes.