If you hold a certified public accountant (CPA) designation,
you have proof of your solid understanding of broad accounting principles and
financial reporting. If you hold the certified internal auditor (CIA)
credential, you possess expertise in auditing records, identifying risks and
enhancing internal controls. Certifications such as these prove your skills to
prospective employers and assure your current company of your value and
qualifications for higher-level assignments.
But success in finance and accounting depends on more than
technical know-how. Employers today also value soft skills, such as
communication, collaboration and strategic thinking. Wouldn’t it be helpful if you could work toward certification in
these skills to demonstrate your mastery of them?
Unfortunately, that’s not possible
yet. But if it were, the following hypothetical credentials would be worth
Accredited in Clear Communication (ACC)
The ACC certification would demonstrate the ability to explain
financial techniques and principles in plain English so that managers and
colleagues outside the accounting or finance department can understand
them. Government regulations, financial reporting rules, treasury-management
techniques and tax laws are complex and difficult for those who don’t spend their days working with numbers. Nevertheless, these
concepts have an impact on all areas of the business, and finance professionals
are increasingly called upon to present them to wider audiences.
Those with the ACC certification would know how to translate
jargon, avoid acronyms and explain arcane concepts so they could speak and write
with their audience in mind. For example, ACC holders would not simply toss
around a term like EBITDA without first explaining that it means earnings before
interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization. The person also would elaborate
on the metric’s value.
Finally, ACC holders would have demonstrated receptivity, or
the ability to listen. Understanding what others are saying not only establishes
rapport but also assures them their concerns are being taken seriously.
Certified Team Player (CTP)
Collaboration is key in today’s
business world. As a result, accounting and finance organizations need
professionals who can work with colleagues from different business areas and
even other parts of the world. Those with the CTP designation would have
mastered the skills of teamwork, diplomacy and negotiation. They would have
studied ways to create harmony, resolve conflicts, exercise tact and keep their
own egos in check.
CTP holders would always go the extra mile to ensure the
success of the team by not blindly pursuing their own agendas but rather taking
others’ points of view into consideration before
settling on a course of action.
Chartered Big-Picture Synthesizer (CBPS)
Increasingly, finance professionals participate in decision
making that goes beyond the accounting department. A business faces strategic
financial decisions that require evaluating the company’s position in its industry and the marketplace as a whole. To
aid in these decisions, CBPS holders would have gained a broad understanding of
economic issues and market forces.
These professionals would be called upon to sift through,
weigh and piece together data to create a meaningful, holistic picture. These
valuable specialists would have studied problem solving and mastered data
analysis to find connections between disparate facts. Professionals with the
CBPS designation would help companies with strategic decisions such as
determining the financial benefits or liabilities of a new product line.
Lifelong Learning Specialist (LLS)
New regulations and accounting standards appear often,
challenging professionals to keep up with the evolving field and continue adding
value to their employers and clients. Professionals with the LLS certification
would have, in essence, learned how to continue to learn. They would have
intellectual curiosity and the ability to continue expanding their knowledge of
accounting and finance. They would invest time in broadening their skills to
prepare themselves for the future.
As a financial professional, you already possess the essential
technical skills and possibly one or more industry-recognized certifications
required for your position. Your ability to advance will be limited, though, if
the softer side of your skill set is lacking. To prevent this from occurring,
look for ways to “earn” the
professional designations described here by strengthening your abilities in each
area. Although these certifications may not actually exist, the skills they
describe have a real impact on your career success.
Founded in 1948, Robert Half
Finance & Accounting, a division of Robert Half, is the world’s first and
largest specialized financial recruiting service. The company has more than 350
offices throughout North America, Europe and the Asia-Pacific region.