How to Get Ahead in Accounting and Finance

Whether youre an internal auditor, tax specialist or financial analyst,
getting ahead – and increasing your marketability – requires staying up to date
with professional trends. In the quickly evolving fields of accounting and
finance, this can seem like a tall order.

Many of the changes for financial professionals stem from
corporate governance regulations implemented in the early part of the decade.
These have expanded the roles and stature of the profession in a business
environment increasingly focused on ethics. Today, the renewed interest in
bringing accuracy and transparency back to financial reporting has fueled demand
for these practitioners and spurred interest in accounting as a career.

But to succeed, accounting and finance professionals must
effectively address complexity in their fields and the need to stay current with
emerging trends. In addition to complying with changing regulations, this new
environment requires financial professionals to develop their expertise in the
following areas:

Build communication skills. As
companies increase their use of cross-functional teams to manage special
projects, they expect accounting staff to collaborate with individuals from
other departments such as information technology, purchasing and marketing. As
professionals forge these new relationships, strong communication and
interpersonal skills are essential, including the ability to convey complex
financial information to non-financial audiences.

Technology expertise is key.  Its critical to stay up to date on the latest
technological innovations in accounting and finance. In addition to learning
about new software applications, its valuable
to develop expertise in such areas as financial systems conversions, and the
design and implementation of custom accounting software. You also should make an
effort to learn all you can about your companys
financial systems: Being able to maximize the use of new technology not only
makes your job easier but also increases your value to your employer.

If you need to learn how to make best use of a new
application, consider taking a computer or software class through a university
extension program, or participate in a local software users group for the product you would like to learn more
about. You also may want to investigate programs offered through professional
associations, including seminars and publications focused on technology

Consider obtaining a technology-related certification such as
the certified information systems auditor (CISA), certified information systems
security professional (CISSP) and the certified information technology
professional (CITP).

Go global (in perspective).
Theres a strong demand for accountants with
international business skills. Indeed, organizations are seeking professionals
who are not only familiar with global trends, but possess an understanding of
accounting principles in other countries. As companies around the world adopt
International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS), there is expected to be
increased pressure on U.S. firms to do the same. Individuals who are fluent in
multiple languages have an advantage when pursuing positions at organizations
with international operations or overseas clients.

Never stop learning. Continuing
to build your professional skills and knowledge is a key way to increase your
marketability. How? Businesses actively recruit accountants whove taken the initiative to further their education,
from obtaining a masters degree in business
administration (MBA) to pursing a certification program such as certified public
accountant (CPA) or certified management accountant (CMA). And heres another bonus to additional education: Our
companys research shows that a graduate degree
or professional certification can increase your starting salary in a new job by
up to 10 percent.

A final piece of advice: Youll have a hard time achieving your full potential
unless others are aware of your expertise and accomplishments. Pursuing new
challenges, such as volunteering to participate on special project teams, will
help you steadily build awareness and better position you for future advancement

By taking proactive steps to develop a broad skill set,
financial professionals will be well positioned for a successful future. Working
hard will always be critical to your success, but accountants with strong
communication abilities, technology expertise, a global perspective and a
lifelong commitment to learning place themselves on the fast track to career

Source: 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. Search for jobs now or learn more at

2 Replies to “How to Get Ahead in Accounting and Finance”

  1. For all of us that have run a business know the importance of collecting the Accounts Receivables quickly. However, businesses tend to focus on getting business in the front door. For example, they pay for advertisements, public relations, and go to events but when it comes to following through on getting paid it gets put off. By enlarge people just do not like calling for money, even if it is owed to them.
    Although collecting receivables is disliked, the importance of timely payments cannot be over emphasized. Research has shown that not only do slow payments drain cash but also the likelihood of being paid at all is significantly reduced as time goes on.
    Days Outstanding Not Collectable
    90 days 27%
    180 days 43%
    360 days 75%
    The solution, which large corporations have been able to afford for a while, is a communication system. A/R Connection is now offering the same infrastructure to small and medium size businesses.
    A/R Connection is a hosted system that calls, e-mails, faxes, or writes the client’s customers when they are late in paying.
    One can find out more form their site http://www.arconnection.

  2. Your list really should include volunteering on the Board of Directors of a charity. It is an excellent way to get experience at the Board level. Charity Board members are patient, helpful and welcoming. They also tend to be excellent business contacts and/or potential mentors. And best of all, they’re free! All you need to do is spend some time.
    For more information, go to

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