It may or may not be news to you, but finance is changing. It’s changing a lot, and at a rate never seen before. In fact, 60% of the jobs in finance today, aren’t going to exist in 10 years’ time. Even more surprisingly, only 1 in 10 of those impacted are actually aware of this!
You might be wondering, “How exactly is finance changing?”, and lucky for you, I have a blog on that exact topic. But to boil it down, finance in the future will be much more standardised and automated.
Most people outside of the industry think that finance is just ‘number-crunching’ (and for a long time, that’s mainly what it was!). But as many of these functions are digitised, the work that we do will move away from a transactional approach of “here’s what the numbers say” to a more analytical, strategic, and influential approach of “here’s what the numbers mean for the business, and for the future”.
This change will mean leaders and teams will require a specific set of soft skills in order to be really effective in finance.
Building Great Relationships
In the future world of finance, being able to effectively build trust, and good relationships will be critical. In a world where you need to influence decisions across the business, the first step is that people need to like you, respect you, and enjoy working with you. If people don’t like you, or at the very least, respect you, your opinions, forecasts, and recommendations will hold far less weight.
And this is true outside of the business too. In finance, you’ll be responsible for explaining the company’s financial situation to external shareholders and potential investors, often requiring a certain level of charisma and charm to secure funding and/or investment.
It might sound a little strange, but the ability to tell a good story is an essential skill for modern finance professionals. No longer is the finance team shoved in a dark, dusty cupboard, tapping away on their calculators and filling in spreadsheets all day. Nowadays, you’ll be out there sharing forecasts and projections with internal shareholders across the business.
According to a survey by McKinsey, on average, five business functions (other than finance) now report to the CFO on a regular basis. Which means that more than ever, you’ll have to communicate technical information in a way that engages, informs, and influences your audience.
Presenting and influencing
Speaking of influencing, a key part of being able to influence people’s decisions in the workplace, is being able to back up your message with clear, visual points. It’s all well and good if you can talk the finance talk, but you also need to be able to walk the business walk!
While a big part of presenting is your communication and storytelling skills, a huge part is your ability to dissect, display and explain your points to people clearly and succinctly (even if they don’t know the first thing about finance).
I’m not just talking about a great PowerPoint template, but being able to display information in clear, sharable, and easy to understand ways that allow people to make informed decisions.
Leadership and Management
In the next 5-10 years, teams will have to invest more time in leadership skills. This isn’t just people leadership… it’s process leadership, project leadership, and everything in between. There’s going to be a massive amount of technological change in the next 10-20 years across all industries, including finance, which means that people are going to be leaders at all levels.
More junior finance professionals are likely to understand the technology that’s developing, because they’re working with it all the time. They’ll therefore be able to lead (potentially more senior) colleagues on the adoption of this technology.
As I mentioned earlier, in future we’ll be spending much less time on transactions and repetitive, process-driven work. Instead, we’ll spend a lot more time doing creative work, thinking, analysing and presenting. And this type of work relies on a much greater level of self-discipline and planning, when compared to rigid process work.
In order to manage this, you need to maximise your personal effectiveness. It really comes down to 5 questions: How productive are you? How do you manage your time? How do you choose what to do in that time? And how effectively do you do the things within that time?
If you’re looking to increase your personal effectiveness, I recently wrote a blog on how to maximise your productivity at work, which should shed some light on the topic.
Interested in learning more?
If you would like to know more top finance skills, or how you can upskill and prepare for the future of finance, get in touch today. After a 30-minute discovery call, I can help you to build a bespoke training programme that works for you and your team.