Whether you’re 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
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. It’s critical to stay up to date on the latest
technological innovations in accounting and finance. In addition to learning
about new software applications, it’s 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 company’s
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
Go global (in perspective).
There’s 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 who’ve taken the initiative to further their education,
from obtaining a master’s degree in business
administration (MBA) to pursing a certification program such as certified public
accountant (CPA) or certified management accountant (CMA). And here’s another bonus to additional education: Our
company’s 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: You’ll 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 www.roberthalf.com.