ICAEW’s Business and Management Faculty recently published new research into the many strategic roles of the CFO. The Faculty spoke to a wide range of interviewees and distilled the feedback into eight different strategic roles a CFO can take, explaining the relevance and importance of each. To understand the CFO’s relationship to strategy we talked to a wide range of interviewees who discussed the roles that the CFO plays in strategy. Clarifying these roles and how they can be combined to form a strategic leader is an important starting point for creating the role that best suits you and your organisation. This will depend on a range of drivers such as personal motivation, the skills of the management team and the type of strategy being pursued. Many CFOs commented that strategy is a team sport and some aspects of the role relate to the CFO’s collegiate responsibilities as a board member. The CFO cannot do everything and will need to focus on where they can add most value. Leader – with the CEO, take a lead role in strategic alignment Analyst – pull together the facts on financials, the competitive environment and strategic options Creator – contribute strategic ideas and create an environment where innovation flourishes Critical thinker – challenge strategic ideas and ensure rigorous evaluation Adjudicator – prioritise strategic initiatives and allocate resources Orchestrator – run the strategy process Implementor – turn the strategy into reality through financing, culture, budgets, KPIs and incentives Communicator – convince stakeholders to support the strategy; translate the strategy into financial terms Each of these roles is discussed in more detail below. What ideas do you have for helping members craft their strategic role? We would be delighted to update these resources based on your input. Let us know by emailing email@example.com. CFO as leader As a leader, the CFO will have a vision of what sort of organisation he or she wants to help create. So while we are focussed on strategy within these resources, the CFO’s leadership role includes working with the CEO on vision, mission and purpose, which in many cases are precursors to developing an effective strategy. Ensuring the strategy, risk profile and organisational structure are aligned with these precursors is fundamental, as is fashioning an effective culture. We have found that leadership aspects of the CFOs role are highlighted in CFO comments we have collected such as, “the CFO needs to lift up the business to think longer term”, “the CFO needs to be outward looking”, and “customer focus is essential”. CFOs also pointed out that leadership is not the same as command and control. Effective CFOs consider how they can empower staff, create flexibility and an environment where new ideas can flourish and be implemented, free from needless bureaucracy. COVID-19 has demonstrated the importance of agility when dealing with uncertainty and businesses will be keen to ensure such agility is maintained. The breadth of the CFO’s role can seem overwhelming, but this can be managed by building an effective team, working productively with other parts of the organisation, drawing on outside help when necessary, and carefully prioritising where to spend time and effort. The strategic roles we explore are designed to help CFOs and aspiring CFOs craft an appropriate role. It is not expected that CFOs will need to fulfil all of them, all of the time. As mentioned by many of the CFOs we spoke to, strategy is a “team sport” and different strategic roles will be more or less important at different times depending on circumstances. CFO as strategic analyst “Strategy is largely about understanding the market. Finance help with analysis, including competitive position, business cases, evaluating different ideas.” Perhaps the most accepted strategic role of the CFO is that of strategic analyst. Its importance should not be underestimated. Jim Collins, in the book Good to Great, emphasises the need to understand the brutal facts confronting an organisation if it is to be successful. The current and forecast financial circumstances of the organisation are among the most important facts. This was echoed by a CFO who stated, “the CFO is best placed to highlight the cold hard facts and ground things in reality”. But care is needed not to crowd out strategic thinking with too much time spent on detailed financial analysis and budgeting. Many of our interviewees were outward looking and involved in pulling together information covering all aspects of an organisation’s circumstances. Some found the PESTEL mnemonic useful to ensure their analysis covered the political, economic, social, technological, environmental and legal forces at play. Many also worked closely with marketing teams to decide upon which markets to be in and which to exit. One CFO stated, “The CFO is often better informed than others on competition and market trends”. Looking at the past and present has to be combined with analysis of what is on the horizon and assessment of the implications for an organisation’s strategy. In particular, strategic scenario planning, exploring the implications of key business drivers, trends and uncertainties, can reduce the risk of becoming too insular and too focused on one possible future. Notably, businesses have found short to medium term scenario planning an important tool in trying to weather the pandemic. Clearly, when broad strategic ideas become narrowed down, the CFO plays an important role in analysing specific initiatives and business cases. Where strategies are fast moving, emergent and opportunistic, ensuring new initiatives make strategic sense will be a constant requirement. CFO as creator “Finance should be there for ideas generation; they provide a diversity of views in the creative process and can do disruptive thinking.” There is no doubt that CFOs can contribute strategic ideas and shape strategy. One CFO we spoke to was integral to refocusing a construction business on its core competencies and disposing of a number of non-aligned subsidiaries. And many CFOs go on to become CEOs where strategy creation becomes a core task. The creator role is not just, or even mainly, about generating radical new ideas from scratch. It includes using the CFO’s overview of the business to see where successful initiatives can be used in other parts of the organisation. Equally important is playing a role in creating a culture and space where people can safely suggest and explore strategic ideas. One of our interviewees stated, “you need to ensure tentative ideas are captured and, even if they are not immediately useful, they may become important in the future”, and another in a similar vein, “you need to spot what’s interesting — let’s explore. Don’t let it get lost”. There are limits. One CFO in the manufacturing sector stated: “If you are relying on the CFO for creative product ideas that is not a good place to be…the CFO is not really cut out for knowing what the customer wants…you need someone with a passion and understanding of those things…imagination cannot come from finance you need wonderful engineers.” While it may be the case that the CFO is more likely to contribute creative product ideas in certain industries, such as financial services, it is also the case that CFOs are users of many products and may bring a useful customer perspective missed by those thinking about products day in, day out. And, strategic creativity goes beyond markets, products and services. It also includes how an organisation structures its business model and identifies acquisition targets. CFO as critical thinker “You need to prevent people going up blind alleys, challenge conclusions, ensure they are realistic and that you have truly got the skills and resources to implement.” Strategy is often about dealing with tensions, dilemmas and trade-offs, such as balancing long-term initiatives with short-term pressures. It is through critical thinking that CFOs help organisations manage these tensions. Critical thinking requires a CFO to be disciplined, clear, rational, open-minded and informed by evidence. As one CFO stated, “the CFO is the least emotional person in the room”, and, another, “the CFO is important to the quality of thinking”. Critical thinking is a part of many strategic roles. For example, as an analyst the CFO needs to choose from and synthesise an overwhelming volume of information to make it accessible, meaningful and useful for the board and executive teams. "The call I have to make is what assumptions and information I am taking responsibility for and what assumptions and information I need to highlight and discuss with the CEO”, stated one of our interviewees. The chief executives we spoke to mentioned the need to use critical thinking to tell truth to power and challenge strategic ideas. CFOs are well aware of this need, along with the need to earn the right to challenge and the high level of skill required to reduce the risk of conflict. One tip from a CFO was to use the question: “How can we build on that to achieve X?” The CFO influences others by leading by example when it comes to critical thinking, but one CFO felt she had to go beyond this and “push the executive team to be informed enough”. CFO as adjudicator “It's likely that only the CFO and the CEO understand all the strategic plans, so only they can prioritise and see where compromises are needed.” Making the most of limited resources is core to achieving competitive advantage. The CFO is often, like it or not, cast in the role of adjudicator. When there are conflicting views on which strategic projects to approve and where to put budget, the CFO will need to weigh up the options and come to a considered view. In particular, CFOs “need to stop time-wasting initiatives that do not align with the strategy”. Financial management is about creating value, not just about cash conservation and cost reduction, although the pandemic has brought these to the fore. Where possible, resources need to be made available for innovation and experimentation, to help ensure a business has a long-term future. As we discuss in our report on the nature of strategy, sometimes strategies are not developed through big, one-off decisions but emerge from a pattern of smaller, operational decisions. Whether or not the CFO and his or her team are directly involved in these decisions, the CFO will need to be conscious of the patterns emerging and ensure they are consistent with the long-term vision and mission of the organisation. For example, if the organisation is aiming to be a leading digital player, driving sales through the web and social media, the CFO may need to question the inconsistency of regularly hiring direct sales staff. How the adjudicator role plays out in practice will depend on the decision-making processes within the organisation. Are things largely driven by consensus? Does the CEO make the final call? How much delegated authority do managers have? Does the CFO have a right of veto? CFO as orchestrator “Here the CFO is leader of the strategic process.” Orchestrating the strategic process often falls to the CFO, particularly in the absence of a chief strategy officer. With a formal process this will cover the basics of setting out timelines, milestones, pulling together discussion papers and documenting decisions. In particular, “the CFO has to make sure the board has sufficient knowledge of strategy to make key decisions. A lot of preparation goes into getting the board agenda right.” One CFO argued that apart from financial knowledge, “CFOs know a little about a lot, others know a lot about their sphere. CFOs don’t know enough to make decisions, others are better placed. But the CFO should be skilled at getting the right people in the right place with the right information to make a decision.” With their overview of the business, CFOs are well placed to lead a cross disciplinary strategic team. While most people want greater involvement in strategy some CFOs pointed out that this is not always the case, with strategic discussions seen as pointless. One CFO told us that part of the orchestrator role was about “firing people up with it” and “scaring them [the executive committee] about the future and creating a sense of urgency”. Most of our interviewees were sceptical about using consultants for strategy formulation – “Strategy has to be owned by the company; we only use consultants for specific projects.” CFOs view strategy as an organisation’s core competence and were concerned that consultants would come up with generic strategies which cannot create competitive advantage. However, CFOs did realise that consultants could plug gaps in knowledge, such as around new markets and technologies, and also that they could be used to overcome political resistance to strategic change. As an orchestrator, the CFO will also need to consider whether the strategic process is right for the organisation. Is it too bureaucratic or too informal? Does it strike the right balance between planning and emergence? Overall, it is important for the CFO to develop a process which generates the right amount of time spent on strategy and makes the most of such time by preventing people from getting bogged down in unnecessary detail. CFO as implementor “The CFO can never walk away from strategy implementation.” The CFO’s role as strategy implementor relates to the adjudicator role in influencing priorities and where to direct resources. This is seen most prominently in the CFO’s role in leading the planning and budgeting process. Allocating budget and resource is usually a negotiation process but, “the CFO sets the boundaries of what can be achieved within financial constraints”. Moreover, the CFO and his or her team will play varying roles in the myriad of smaller decisions that will either support or detract from the organisations vision and strategy. Again, a CFO needs to know where they can add most value and where to get involved. This is particularly important when the strategy is more emergent in nature. There are a number of key processes which impact strategy implementation where the CFO plays a central role. Not least is the role the CFO plays in obtaining the financial flexibility to deliver the strategy using the most appropriate funding options. “Key for the CFO is creating the financial flexibility to weather financial storms and exploit opportunities – everything requires funding.” There is then the need to ensure that there is alignment between management information, objectives, key performance indicators and incentives with the strategy. Risk management systems also need to be aligned with the risk appetite implied by the strategy. Strategy implementation is not easy, therefore monitoring the progress of an organisation’s vision and strategy is essential to ensure corrective action can be taken if necessary. This is not just about whether the financials are on track and strategic milestones are being met. The CFO needs to have processes in place to monitor whether the environment is changing or competitors are making faster progress. If so, the CFO can initiate a strategic review before it is too late to respond. For more on the CFO as implementor see the Business and Management Faculty’s roundtable write-up “Key concerns for CFOs”. CFO as communicator “Whenever you talk to stakeholders it has a strategic angle...The CFO and CEO own the narrative and are in charge of the communication of it.” Convincing external and internal stakeholders to support an organisation’s strategy is essential; without their active support strategy implementation becomes impossible. This is perhaps most visible in the CFO’s role in investor relations. With an intimate knowledge of the strategy, the CFO can connect the strategy to the numbers and communicate it in a language that makes sense to investors. Some CFOs spoke of this in terms of being a “translator”. This is perhaps most important in communicating an organisation’s strategic approach to climate change. CFOs also emphasised communication with the board, including non-executive directors, and the internal communication of strategy. One stated: “Selling strategy to staff is underestimated…good CFOs are always doing this selling”. According to another, “the CFO needs to be part of selling strategy internally – again and again. We did mean it, we are going to do it. You have to get people truly in line.” However, there was a dissenting voice who said that, “cascading the strategy in an organisation is better done by the CEO and business heads”. Another translation aspect of communicating strategy is trying to ensure there is a mutual understanding of what strategy is. Our report on the nature of strategy discusses multiple definitions of strategy, none of which are right or wrong. But if people are not on the same page it can lead to confusion, wasted time and a failure to discuss key components of strategy. This is probably one of the key reasons for frequent stakeholder complaints about organisations not having a strategy. CFOs can take the lead in avoiding such issues. If you are ready to take the next step in your career journey take a look at our job listings and other career advice.
The term “hybrid working” is now firmly entrenched in the business lexicon, but as staff rush to tear up their season tickets to embrace the freedom of time split between working from home and the office, how can you be sure that even if you’re far from sight, you’re not far from mind when it comes to career opportunities? As lockdown restrictions continue to ease and we inch closer to working in the office, concern is rife that staff who are more visible to managers are more likely to be on the radar when it comes to promotion opportunities, career development and even earning potential. Analysis of data by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) found that between 2013 and 2020, people who worked from home were on average 38% less likely to have received a bonus compared to those who never worked from home. They were also far less likely to be promoted or to receive training. The question is, how can you ensure that you’re doing a good job of being noticed by your manager when you can’t be seen? Although they should already have oversight of your tasks and responsibilities, there are several things you can do to ensure you’re on their radar. Be transparent about your schedule If you’re working remotely, you should actively keep in touch – even if it may feel like you’re overcommunicating. Routine is not only good for your productivity, but it helps your manager keep track of what you’re up to at work. “Being clear about when you are and aren’t available goes a long way to building credibility and trust,” says Lee Owen, a Director at recruiter Hays Accountancy & Finance. Schedule regular communication Whether it’s a weekly phone call, a chat over Zoom or Teams, or an emailed KPI report every fortnight, commit to regular one-to-one communication with your boss to discuss your work, achievements, and career goals. “They’ll be just as time-stretched as everyone else so rather than email every time you complete a task, remind them to schedule in face-to-face one-to-ones regularly so you can talk through progress and report on your successes,” add Susy Roberts, an executive coach and founder of people development consultancy Hunter Roberts. Seek advice and feedback Whenever you and your manager are working together, ensure you ask for their feedback. “This provides them with the opportunity to acknowledge your efforts and helps you maximise opportunities for growth,” Owen says. Take ownership and demonstrate commitment When you have the capacity, express interest in owning projects or leading your team through a new piece of work. Even if you can’t immediately find opportunities to step up, showing that you’re up for a challenge will make your manager more likely to consider you first when they do arise, Owen says. Embrace stretch development If you have capacity, ask to take on something new that might take you out of your comfort zone, or if you have ideas for new ways of doing things, suggest them. “Businesses are increasingly looking to develop and recruit people who thrive on change, so don’t be afraid to suggest new ways of working. Demonstrating a growth mindset rather than a fixed mindset is critical,” Roberts says. Contribute positively in meetings It can be hard to be noticed on an online Zoom or Teams call. When you’re in meetings make sure you’re positively contributing so people can see your value. “If you find yourself repeatedly passed over or talked over, suggest a round-table format, where everyone gets the chance to talk in turn, or even offer to host the meeting yourself and set the agenda,” Roberts says. Alternate your communication channels All too often we default to the most efficient methods such as email, instant messaging systems like Slack, or even texting. “While these tools have their benefits, they limit your ability to pick up on non-verbal communication cues that come from one’s tone of voice, facial expressions, and body language — all of which can help you connect with your team,” warns Amanda Augustine, careers expert for TopCV. Consider picking up the phone or doing a quick video call to ask a question rather than shooting another email or Slack message. Make a wider contribution Consider volunteering to become a mentor to someone more junior so you’re making a wider contribution to the business. “Report back to your line manager with suggestions and insight – making sure to respect anything told to you in confidence - to show that you have emotional intelligence,” Roberts says. If you don’t have time to formally mentor someone, look out for people who are struggling and offer emotional support to them.” Share your success and thanks Feeling proud of a piece of work? Don’t be afraid to share it with your manager. It’s fine to send a casual instant message rather than an email, and perhaps frame your achievement by saying “thank you for your support with this” to acknowledge the role that they might have played in this success,” Owen says. People who do well have a habit of just getting on with things, particularly women, Roberts adds “so don’t be afraid to be vocal about your achievements. Other people will be, and they’ll be the people who are earmarked for progression.” For those working from home, whether out of choice or due to a whole host of reasons, which could include health or caring responsibilities, it’s important to know that there’s no need for you to overcompensate, says Jessica French, Development Manager at CABA, the wellbeing charity for chartered accountants. “Just because you aren’t physically in the office, that doesn’t mean you need to work twice as hard, or twice as long as your colleagues to show your commitment. Doing this you can run the risk of burnout, for fear of being forgotten or side stepped,” French warns. “Use the video platforms to assert your presence, and let your work speak for itself.”
There is plenty of advice for how to land a good job, but what about how to resign professionally? Whether you’re dissatisfied with your current position, have found something better or are simply ready for a change, resigning can be stressful. Yet, resigning professionally is paramount to keeping a good reputation in the accounting world. It might seem that resigning from your job would be as simple as giving proper notice, but it’s not that easy. Here are our tips for how to resign professionally. The resignation conversation is always awkward. But maintaining positive relationships with old colleagues can be really valuable down the road if you are looking for references or connections to other firms. Here are some tips on how to resign gracefully and on good terms. Follow the resignation rules of your company Before resigning, check your contract of employment or your employee manual for the expected notice period. This could be two weeks, a month or, in some cases, much more. It's a professional courtesy to honour these guidelines, while any applicable termination benefits may also depend on it. No matter how much your new employer is pushing you to start as soon as possible, you have both a contractual obligation and commitment to your current company to see out your contract. If you’re going to work for a competitor after resigning, check for any contractual boundaries that prohibit you from doing so. If you do decide to move forward despite this agreement, you may be asked to leave the premises of your current job immediately. Resign face-to-face While it might be awkward or even nerve-wracking, it's important that you resign with integrity and arrange for a face-to-face conversation with your employer. There is nothing worse than a resignation email without the chance for a frank and open conversation. As simple as it might be, this is the key on how to resign on good terms. There are, of course, jobs where resigning face-to-face is not so easy. For example, if working remotely or as a contractor, in which case we suggest arranging a video conference or telephone call. Be gracious During your resignation meeting, make sure to take the opportunity to thank your line manager and wider team for the experience and the opportunity you’ve had at your current job. Keep it positive Never gripe to co-workers about your dissatisfaction at work. Never bash your current job or bosses during an interview with a potential new employer. And never, ever, ever denigrate your current job on social media. Even after you’ve given your notice and moved on, refrain from public zealousness about how excited you are to get out of there. When asked why you are leaving, the ideal answer is “for a better opportunity.” If you don’t have another job lined up, you may have to be more honest, but always put a professional spin on it: “This isn’t the right environment for me” sounds a lot better than “I hate my co-workers!” Your resignation should be short and direct. Be confident about your decision to move on, yet appreciative of the opportunities you’ve had. And make sure word doesn’t get our beforehand. Maintain the status quo until your very last day While you’re thinking about handing in your notice, and even perhaps actively hunting for another job, maintain the status quo at work. Do your very best to ensure that your colleagues, replacement and clients are well equipped for when you leave. It’s easy to be swept up by the excitement of your new job and have a “last day of school” attitude but assisting in a smooth handover is the mark of a true professional. Start by highlighting any important pending tasks, transferring files and sharing knowledge with your co-workers while preparing to formally let clients know. Secure good recommendations Asking for a reference while you are still fresh in the mind of your employers will help you to secure more favourable responses. This is not only good practice for those still on the hunt but also if you have secured your next job. Prepare for an exit interview For some positions, an exit interview is a part of the resignation procedure. These are interviews often carried out by your line manager or member of the HR department. This should be treated as a normal interview, dressing nicely and preparing for questions in advance. Questions usually take the form of your time working for the company and how it could have been improved. It might be tempting to share everything that’s on your mind but remember to remain professional and to think about the positives of the role. Keep in touch Regardless of whether you are able to secure references, it’s good to stay in contact with all of your colleagues. As you move, don’t lose valuable contacts and continue to grow your network. You may decide to go full circle and work for the company that you once did, and having your previous manager in your favour is a great way to earn your place back. Additionally, your co-workers may be able to offer you opportunities as they grow within their careers. Knowing how to handle a job transition professionally is a valuable career skill. Unlike past decades, it’s common, and many believe prudent, to change jobs every five years or so in order to keep one’s experience fresh and one’s learning alive. ICAEW Academy offer high quality learning and leadership development solutions for all career stages, across a wide range of sectors. If you’re looking for a new role, ICAEW Jobs have the latest opportunities which you can apply for online. New roles are posted every day from businesses across the UK from a wide range of industries. Get started with your applications today by uploading your CV and get job alerts when new roles appear.
With major institutions like HSBC and Lloyds announcing large cuts to their office footprint, there has been renewed speculation across the financial world about the long-term future of the office. This is borne out by the latest research, which found 89 per cent of business leaders expect hybrid working between home and the office to remain a permanent feature, even after the pandemic is over. However, despite such a strong majority, the debate is far from settled, especially after the latest comments from David Solomon, chief executive at Goldman Sachs. Solomon called home working an ‘aberration’ that must be corrected ‘as soon as possible’, indicating that the working patterns across the financial world may be set to diverge sharply into two distinct camps. On the one hand, having people physically together can reinforce organisational culture and a spirit of collaboration but, on the other, allowing greater flexibility over location enables firms to broaden their talent pool and boost agility and productivity. When it comes to attracting and retaining the top talent, managing these issues can be tricky. A company’s approach to hybrid working – whether embracing or rejecting it – makes a big statement about corporate culture that can significantly affect the type of candidates’ managers can attract when trying to build a top performing team. But in a fiercely competitive market, what is the right balance to strike? Managing the move to remote working When discussing the need for financial professionals to return to the office as swiftly as possible, Solomon made no secret of his issues with remote working, speaking about his desire for Goldman to maintain its innovative and collaborative culture, as well as his concerns about the impact remote working has on training and development for junior staff. And Solomon isn’t alone – when asked about the problems of having a hybrid workforce, a survey of 1,500 executives were almost unanimous in citing these five key issues: Monitoring workloads Complicates hiring/onboarding new staff Maintaining culture Assessing employee wellbeing and mental health Hard to optimise engagement/collaboration Adapting to meet these challenges isn’t easy and businesses are having to make significant changes in how they operate, such as adjusting working hours and standard processes for remote employees or redesigning job descriptions and responsibilities to reflect workers capabilities. On top of this, nearly half (49 per cent) of remote-working employees are looking to switch to a four day working week to help cope with burnout which, if adopted broadly across the industry, would require major restructuring of teams and responsibilities for almost every firm. Yet despite the disruption that moving to a permanent hybrid model can cause, there are excellent reasons for banks to embrace the change. The first and most obvious is that it’s what employees are demanding, with an overwhelming 92 per cent saying they would like to either work from home full time or having the ability to choose on a daily or weekly basis – unsurprising when remote working has been shown to boost job satisfaction and productivity in the long run. This means that, for the vast majority of open roles, prospective candidates may be put off by a company which demands they be in the office five days a week. On top of this, adopting a hybrid approach enables firms to dramatically expand their potential talent pool for new hires as well as retaining key personnel who might otherwise leave. Best of both worlds It’s up to each financial institution to balance these trade-offs and find their own unique blend that enables them to retain their company culture while also attracting and retaining their best talent. However, there are several key steps that can help frame such discussions. The first is gaining visibility into how each role might be impacted by longer-term remote working – for example, our research has found that activities such as fund management, risk & compliance, or financial planning are among the easiest to be done remotely – and then analysing the impact of offering hybrid working solutions on the company as a whole. This means not only understanding how hybrid working might alter the organisational structure and culture, but what this means in comparison to competitors in the market. Then, once this is established, it’s about making sure that the right candidates are being targeted – not just in terms of professional skills but in terms of ethos and personality. There are good reasons why companies, such as Goldman Sachs, may choose not to allow remote working. However, this will inevitably limit the talent pool they are able to draw from compared to competitors. Therefore, they need to be partnering with experts who not only have access to find and access the best local talent, but who also understand the company culture and can find candidates who have the right personality to fit in from day one. Finally, it’s important to review these assumptions regularly as technology evolves, and job roles change. For instance, while financial advisors used to have to meet clients face to face for important security checks, today video conferencing has rendered a great deal of this face-to-face interaction optional. Financial institutions need to make sure they are keeping up with the latest trends and don’t fall into antiquated thinking about how certain jobs ‘should’ be done. The future of work - redefined With the fight against the pandemic far from over, it’s too soon to say what longer-term working patterns will look like in the aftermath of COVID-19, especially when it comes to the future of the office. Despite this uncertainty, financial executives need to decide where they stand on hybrid working (if they haven’t already). Making these decisions isn’t easy but, by ensuring they have a strong grasp of how each role will be impacted by remote working, and a good understanding of the ways in which the market is moving, it’s possible for the financial world to turn this disruption into a competitive advantage in the ongoing war for talent. If you’re looking for a new role, ICAEW Jobs have the flexible roles which you can apply for online. New roles are posted every day from businesses across the UK from a wide range of industries. Get started with your applications today by uploading your CV and get job alerts when new roles appear.
Tips on preparing for a leadership role and positioning yourself effectively to seize opportunities as they arise. If you’re good at your job and keen to develop, there’s a good chance that you’ll be offered the chance to move into a leadership role at some point. Or maybe you’re actively looking to become a leader, but not sure how to best position yourself for success. While the perks and opportunities are appealing, the idea of leadership can be daunting. But by preparing yourself ahead of time you can make a confident move up the career ladder when the time is right. When I was promoted from Financial Controller to General Manager, the shift felt huge. I went from being an experienced finance specialist where I knew my stuff, to being thrown into managing a team of people and expected to influence senior colleagues across the whole organisation. I felt like I had so many new skills to learn – it felt a bit like starting all over again. With that in mind, here are 5 things you can do to help prepare yourself for leadership. Be proactive Take a course (such as one of ICAEW’s leadership CPD courses), listen to podcasts, read an inspiring book or watch coaching videos to find what works for you. Try making learning about leadership a habit by spending even just half an hour each week developing your leadership skills and knowledge. Also, take a look around your organisation and see who inspires you as a leader – what is it about them that makes them so great at their job? How could you imitate those qualities? Then consider how you can take what you’ve learned and put it into practice in your day job. Without realising it you’ll begin to behave differently at work, positioning yourself to be noticed. And if you want to lead, don’t forget to let your others know you want to progress so they can help you get there. Develop your people skills Influencing and managing people is what leadership is all about. But it’s also the area that many new leaders have little experience in. Leading with empathy rather than forceful authority will gain you the respect of your team and peers, so it’s worth examining your interactions with others. Listening is one of the most important leadership skills to develop. Leaders rely on their team’s expertise to get the job done, but they will turn to you when they need a problem solving. Hear them out before offering your opinions. Or, even better, find ways to empower them to solve their own problems – this coaching technique will show you how. Reflect on your experiences Self-awareness is a key asset of a great leader. Spend some time getting to understand your strengths, what causes you stress and how you react under pressure. You’ll then know what you need to work on and you’ll be aware of what’s going on when you stumble upon your triggers. Another great development trick is to think back on times when you’ve failed. Why did you fail and what would you do differently if you were to do it again? Everyone fails, and when you’re starting out as a leader, because you’re doing new things, you’re going to fail a lot. And that’s OK. Think of each failure as an opportunity to learn and find ways to improve for next time. Look for opportunities The more you lead, the better you’ll get at it. Start small by taking any opportunities that arise to lead projects. As a project manager, you’ll learn essential leadership skills such as people and resource management, planning, communicating and directing. When your boss goes on holiday, offer to act up and take over their responsibilities while they’re away so you can put your leadership skills into practice. It’s also a great way to show you are ready and capable to take on more responsibility. Find a mentor or coach If there’s someone you particularly admire within your organisation, or even someone outside of work, why not see whether they would be willing to mentor you. Coaching is another option to consider and I’m a great believer in the power of quality coaching like the ICAEW Leadership Development Programmes. A good coach will open up your thinking, help you find new opportunities and build your confidence in areas you feel you need to strengthen. If you’re not sure what coaching is about or how it could help you, dip your toe in the water and pick up some leadership techniques for free at lightningsmart.co.uk. Good luck on your leadership journey!
As organisations try to promote greater diversity and inclusion within their ranks, many hiring managers are focused on sourcing candidates from a variety of backgrounds. In the ICAEW Diversity and Inclusion hub we bring together timely D&I resources on regulation and equality, along with our latest insights into diversity in the profession. To promote inclusivity in the workplace, companies must ensure that candidate interviews and assessments are not biased against minority professionals. Let us address the two types of bias that can significantly impact your organisation’s diversity recruitment initiatives: unconscious bias and conscious bias. What is unconscious bias? Unconscious bias (also known as implicit bias) is the preferences and prejudices that we don’t realize we have. These biases often come from our background and aren’t necessarily apparent in our day-to-day interactions with others. However, they can inform the decisions we make about the people with whom we surround ourselves. Everyone has unconscious biases; many hiring panels might unwittingly lean toward hiring — or not hiring — candidates based on those implicit prejudices. What are the most common unconscious biases to watch for? There are several common unconscious biases hiring teams should watch out for during the recruitment and selection processes. Three common types of unconscious bias include: 1. Affinity bias: This type refers to the tendency to prefer people who are similar to us in terms of ethnicity, religion, gender or gender identity, sexual orientation, age, physical appearance or disability. 2. Confirmation bias: This bias occurs when we pay greater attention to information that confirms pre-existing beliefs, thus essentially confirming stereotypes we hold. 3. Conformity bias: This refers to being influenced by the opinions and behaviours of others, such as other colleagues on a hiring panel, in order to conform to “proper” behaviour. What is conscious bias, and how does it differ from unconscious bias? Conscious, or explicit, bias refers to prejudices of which we are aware. Someone who falls into this category acts deliberately and knowingly on conscious biases, such as mistreating people from a specific group that they feel deserve it. Conscious bias can be just as detrimental to building an inclusive environment — perhaps even more so. 10 strategies to prevent and address these biases during the hiring process. You and your team can prevent and address these prejudices through consistent, strategic action, try these strategies: 1. Identify your unconscious biases. You can use tools like the Implicit Association Test from Harvard to help you. Then, make sure these biases are top of mind throughout the interview and assessment process. We must keep our prejudices front and centre to fight them when they arise. 2. Infuse inclusiveness into your communications, both internally and externally. For example, use a job description analysis tool that identifies gendered language to make job descriptions more inclusive. 3. Require diversity training and ongoing education for all employees, particularly managers, recruiters and senior leaders. 4. Make inclusion a regular part of your conversations regarding the brand and company culture. ICAEW are committed to diversity in the Chartered Accountancy profession and we believe the profession, and our own organisation, does best when it reflects the society we serve, take a look at the ICAEW Diversity and Inclusion policy. 5. Implement mentorship programs across teams and demographics. Exposing team members to people from different backgrounds can promote greater understanding and empathy across the company culture, which I have found can significantly affect recruitment and retention efforts. 6. Look at candidates’ skills and talents before you consider anything else. You might accomplish this by requesting that a sample assignment be completed before the one-on-one interview. 7. Always ask the same interview questions in the same order for every prospective candidate. Consider using a weighted scoring system on these questions, then compare candidates objectively based on their scores. 8. Put a diverse hiring team in place. Make sure a wide range of people are represented, including multiple ages, genders, sexual orientations, cultures, personalities, backgrounds and talents. 9. If you choose to work with a recruitment company, partner with one that specializes in diversity recruitment. 10. Commit to fighting explicit bias. This may take the form of new company procedures, training around addressing unacceptable behaviours such as sexual harassment, and a no-tolerance policy for hate speech or discriminatory language. Becoming familiar with our biases might be an uncomfortable process, but it is necessary to create a fairer and more inclusive recruitment process. And when we accomplish that, we start developing workplaces where professionals of all backgrounds can thrive. Join the ICAEW Diversity & Inclusion Community. ICAEW is committed to supporting the diversity agenda, ensuring that the chartered accountancy profession is a truly inclusive one. The community outlines its work in promoting diversity & inclusion, alongside resources and information, to support both individual members and firms wanting to promote diversity within their organisation.
To shine in today’s increasingly data-rich and technology-driven world, you must learn how to harness and make sense of data and what it means for the business. You need to fight the temptation to stick with familiar spreadsheet tools to manipulate data and boldly embrace front-line business intelligence tools and skills - like coding - that will enable you to perform insightful analysis quickly and accurately. Whereas spreadsheets are limited by lack of end-to- end workflow, cost and repeatability, programming languages like R and Python are free, and analysis is repeatable. Languages such as Python and R offer spreadsheet users a gateway to be able to analyse their data programmatically. You may ask why you would look to take the leap into programming as your spreadsheet is working just fine for you. There are loads of reasons as to why you should so I'll enlighten you with a few: How much data can your spreadsheet handle? You can store a lot in a spreadsheet, but you can easily process much bigger datasets if you use a computing language. Can you repeat what you have done? With a computing language you can easily and quickly repeat the calculations that you have already done so you could get your calculations checked by a fellow coder. Can you redo the work you’ve done quickly? Now saving time is a huge plus and that analysis and manipulation of data that took hours can be done again on a new dataset at the click of a button. Do you want to do complex modelling with your data? From linear regression to neural networks computer languages such as Python and R offer libraries to access a variety of complex modelling tools. Do you need some cool graphs? Both R and Python have excellent plotting ability that allow you to create highly customizable and professional looking graphs that move beyond what you can do in a spreadsheet. Whilst programming can seem daunting, even complete novices can pick up the skills needed to analyse data really quickly. A few ways ICAEW can support you to grow your skills in this area: CPD 5 & 6 May Virtual classroom Introduction to Python 8 June 2021 Webinar Python vs. R which one is for me? Qualification Developed in collaboration with Kaplan Financial, the ICAEW Data Analytics Certificate Programme will help you combine your commercial acumen and business knowledge with data analytics expertise. It will equip you to play a pivotal role between data and the business, and provide evidence-based, forward-looking insights and assurance that support decision making. Data Analytics Community Join the Data Analytics Community to access a curated programme of digital learning, use cases, subject matter experts and community resources covering all the essential aspects of data analytics. Membership is free.
The past year has been a time of change, adaptation and reflection, which may have led to a career re-evaluation or a pique in curiosity for other possibilities. There are a few steps we advise taking and questions you should ask yourself. And above all, start writing lists of all your answers and observations. Self-assessment What are you motivations for considering a career change? Be wary of a knee-jerk reaction, you might feel unhappy, but ask yourself, is it with your job or career, or with the situation, eg working from home and dealing with the pressures of the last year? What are you looking for? You might know you want change and feel confident in your reasons for doing so but answering the question ‘what do I want’ isn’t often easy. This needs some research and self-evaluation, as well as honesty and willingness to work towards a new plan. Are you mentally prepared for two life-altering events at the same time? Taking care of our mental health has become paramount amid the pandemic, so be sure you’re capable of making such a big career alteration at the same time. Ask yourself: Is now really the right time? What are your reasons for making a career change? Are you ready to tackle the challenges of a job hunt and starting a new job? Will a change be worth it, given the challenges? Evaluate the professional you Again, ask yourself more questions and build up a picture of your current professional persona, the one you want to become and the one you might need to become to get to where you want to go. What are your hard and soft (transferable) skills? Soft skills: communication, leadership, problem solving, empathy, among many others. Hard skills: the skills you’ve gained in your education and training. Will they be useful in your desired career path? Read our presenting transferable skills in your CV What skills do you want and need? What are employers looking for? Here are eight skills that improve employability: 1. Initiative 2. Commercial acumen 3. Professionalism 4. Innovation 5. Project management 6. Communication and presentation 7. Teamwork 8. Networking Look at where you want to go: What skills are in demand? Technological advancement is causing finance and accounting roles to evolve rapidly, leading to the demand for new skills. Do you have them? How can you get them? Read our digital skills gap and why analytics skills are in demand. Also, what would you like to learn? What skills and activities make you happy? What are your biggest career successes to date? These can be as simple as compliments from colleagues or skills you’ve gained off your own back, all the way to successfully lead projects, promotions or major positive changes you brought to previous organisations. This can help you understand what you’re good at and what you enjoyed doing. Do you have a dream job or sector? Make list of jobs you think you’d love and/or excel at. Also think about situations you’d like to work in or types of company or sector. What are your core values? These should reflect the core of who you are, what you stand for and what can’t be broken. These can include work-life balance, honesty, customer-led, being charitable, and so on. What things are off the table? What things don’t you want to negotiate? These could include flexible working, financial and job security, a clear career growth path and training. Career path research If you’re super clear on the job you want, then the battle is half won. Work out the skills needed, the network to grow, any additional education and plan a path to change. If you’re unsure of a specific role, take the above evaluation and begin researching the job marketplace to find paths that suit you or that pique your interest. Go to job boards, research roles and job titles, make comparisons of roles between industries. It could be that financial analysis would be a perfect fit you, but only in certain sectors that you’re interested in. Learn about the different responsibilities and tasks and honestly judge whether you have the skills needed or whether you could gain them sufficiently to be competitive. It really depends on how big a career change you’re making. If you want to make a change, for example, from audit to tax, or bookkeeping to governance, how can you do this? Are there any opportunities to learn in your current company? Can you shadow people? Are there further courses you need to study? Again, keep a list of job titles that interest you and the skills they require, so you can map them more easily to the skills you have and to see what you need. Make a shortlist Take all your lists, cross reference and start to make a shortlist of roles that 1) you like and 2) you have a skillset for. Is there a sweat spot of roles that tick both of these boxes? If not, which are closest in terms of fit? Can you see a way forward to bridging the gap? Such questions are very subjective as everyone’s situation will be different and will depend on personal responsibilities, resources, and available time. If you’re looking for a new role, ICAEW Jobs have new roles posted every day from businesses across the UK from a wide range of industries. Get started with your applications today by uploading your CV and get job alerts when new roles appear. Get searching and good luck!
In this article, David Clark, Operations Director at recruitment experts Headstar, shares how hiring managers approach a pile of CVs and urges you to make sure your CV is the one that stands out from the crowd. Throughout my career I have always felt for candidates trying to navigate their way through all the conflicting advice out there on how to write a CV. ‘Write a skills-based CV rather than a chronological one’ ‘Don’t bother listing your responsibilities – achievements are what people really want to see’ ‘Make your CV as broad as possible so it appeals to lots of different jobs’ These are just a few of the terrible tips I have heard over the years. Usually given out by inexperienced recruiters or mentors – both with well-meaning intentions. The only opinion that really matters however is the hiring managers for the job you are applying to. I could write a book on how to construct a CV but, in this article, I will start by shedding some light on the mindset the vast majority of those hiring staff have. Understanding the reality of their situation and what a successful hire means to them gives any job seeker a helpful steer on how to present themselves. Line managers are extremely busy and that is without being one person down in their team. They do not have the time to read CVs properly, they scan them at best and that is because they’ll have a pile of them to go through alongside their day job. It is worth remembering that to a hiring manager, finding the right person could mean anything from getting a promotion, not taking the laptop on a holiday or spending more time with the kids. When reviewing CVs, they are not thinking ‘COULD my job be within this candidate’s potential?’ because if they did, they would end up interviewing the whole pile – so no bedtime stories this month. Instead, they’re thinking ‘was this candidate BUILT for my job?’ That is the CV which makes them feel like their own lives might get a little easier over the next few months. Your audience has a very low attention span, multiple distractions and time pressure. Their primary motivations, quite rightly, are personal. So, one of the most important guiding principles I can offer is to make your relevance to the job impossible to miss and it all starts with your first sentence. Business owners will call me and say something along the lines of ‘Dave I need an FC with retail experience, ideally qualified, practice trained would be great. And someone who knows what it’s like to support a business owner – that’s essential.’ That is the kind of language they use. That is the person they’re looking out for. So why not mirror that language in your first sentence (the one they are most likely to read) to broadcast your relevance in the clearest way possible? ‘Practice trained ACA qualified Financial Controller with 10 years’ experience in owner managed SMEs in FMCG & Retail. One line and you’ve captured their attention as a relevant candidate – you are half-way to the yes pile already. It does not require any in depth analysis or thorough enquiry which would result in the reader quickly moving onto the next CV as the short, sharp text from their spouse pings on their phone asking if they are actually coming home this evening. It is a brutally efficient, clearly stated, fact-based summary of you in commoditised form and it works. A lot of you will be thinking ‘but I’ve worked in lots of different businesses doing different things and I don’t want to close off any opportunities in new industries.’ I regularly receive CVs which start with ‘Senior Finance Professional with a range of commercial skills in various industries.’ Speak to anyone in marketing and they will tell you that instead of speaking to everyone, the truth is that by not being specific, you won’t stand out to anyone. Think of any car advert you have ever seen – none are pitched generically as vehicles able to get anyone from a to b. They are pitched to specific groups of people wanting specific features. So, it’s time to decide whether you’re an all-terrain 4x4 or a nippy inner-city compact and gear everything you write to that audience. This will involve re-jigging your CV to every role you apply for but investing your time here will mean more interview requests and surely that is the aim of the game? Ask yourself; have I made my application immediately recognisable as a suitable candidate? Have I mirrored the language in the advert or brief? Have I been specific? Have I been concise? This approach, particularly at the start of your CV, will result in more hiring managers simply thinking ‘I want to meet this person’. If you’re looking for a new role, ICAEW Jobs have new roles are posted every day from businesses across the UK from a wide range of industries. Get started with your applications today by uploading your CV and get job alerts when new roles appear. *The views expressed are the author’s and not ICAEW’s.
Practice recruitment specialist Matthew Lawford of AJ Chambers gives us insight into key considerations for recruiting in the current market. New Workforce The UK workforce is now made up of over 50% of Millennials and Gen-Z’s and they are having a huge impact on ways of working . They are turning traditional expectations on their head and expect more flexibility in their approach. Companies are adapting to this new way of work and it’s a major attraction for many candidates. Whether it’s starting late and finishing early for childcare or working from home, people care more than ever about when and where they can work. While salary and position remain important considerations, employees are increasingly conscious of what company benefits supplement the offer. Job searches also increasingly encompass issues like diversity, sustainability and how tech savvy the hiring company is. Your company branding plays an integral role in communicating your culture and values not only to your clients, but also to prospective employees. Digital Shift There has been an obvious digital shift in recruitment which has the benefit of saving time and money as well as opening up more opportunity. If you effectively use the tools available, you are able to connect with an infinite pool of prospects at the touch of a button. Social media is an integral recruitment tool. Technology has, particularly over the last year, become an essential part of the selection and interview process and in completing the necessary onboarding steps after recruitment. Companies are also considering what systems can be put in place on a more permanent basis to facilitate a more agile approach to working. Staff Development Instead of annual performance reviews businesses are now encouraged to utilise more frequent feedback sessions including regular one to ones. Employees also have an expectation of structured learning and development opportunities and many companies are undertaking additional employee engagement activity to enhance the workplace experience. Further insights into successfully recruiting and retaining the right staff in the current market will be shared at our upcoming Grow your Practice Recruitment event. All member firms can now advertise their fully qualified roles on ICAEW Jobs free of charge. This member only jobs board is a great way to promote your roles exclusively to Chartered Accountants. Pricing and details for members In order to set you up as an employer, can you please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
A Management Accountant is a key role within a business, but what is the role and what are they expected to do in it? ICAEW delves deeper in this management accountant guide. What is a management accountant? A Management accountant is an important role in any organisation. Working in the accountancy or finance department, management accountants are responsible for the preparation of management accounts and several other reports whilst also overseeing general accounting procedures and practices within the business. A management accountant's role combines financial, analytical and management skills to aid senior management with decision making and promoting long term financial success for a business. What does a management accountant do? A Management accountant works within a business to prepare and present financial reports to senior management teams in order to give an insight into business performance. The reports are used to aid with business strategy and also in decision making within the business, to ensure growth and profitability. Key management accountant responsibilities The primary responsibilities of a management accountant vary, but mostly include: Preparing monthly management accounts and other financial reports such as budgets. Presenting reports to senior management to aid with business decision making. Compiling strategies that will reduce business costs. Obtaining finance for projects. Advising on the financial implications of business decisions. Developing and overseeing financial systems and procedures and identifying opportunities to improve these. Controlling income and expenditure within the business and ensuring that expenditure is inline with budgets. Overseeing accounting technicians and support with generic accountancy tasks. Communicating with all levels within the organisation and being able to present financial information to non - finance members of staff. Analysing and managing risk within the business. Importance of a management accountant Management accountants play a highly important role within an organisation. Key financial data and reports produced by management accountants are used by senior management to make informed business decisions. The analysis of business performance is a vital role in a management accountant's job, this analysis is produced by looking at current financial information and also non - financial data to determine the position of the business. This information is then used by senior management to make short term decisions and also to develop strategies for the long term growth and development of the business that ensure stability and profitability. Skills required for the job Management accountants are expected to have excellent analytical and numerical skills whilst maintaining a strong attention to detail. A solid foundation of basic accountancy skills is also required for this role including an understanding of the generally accepted accounting principles. An understanding of business is also important for management accountants along with the ability to communicate effectively at all levels to advise and liaise with senior members of staff. The duties of a management accountant should be carried out with a high degree of organisational and strategic thinking skills. Career opportunities for a management accountant Any business organisation with a financial department will require a management accountant, they are also frequently employed by financial institutions. With experience, a management accountant can expect solid career progression. Professionals with the required qualifications and experience can go on to become financial controllers, finance directors or chief financial officers. Competencies of a management accountant There are high-level competencies required for the management accountant role: Data, digital and technology Identifies strategic options to add value, using data and technology. Analyses and evaluates data using appropriate tools and technologies. Applies technologies to visualise data effectively and clearly. Applies ethical judgement and scepticism to the use of data and data technology. Financial management Monitors developments in global trade, markets, business practices and the current economic climate and suggests the improvements needed in the financial and risk management of a business. Advises on current business asset valuations, capital projects and investments through the right analytical qualitative and quantitative techniques. Can see, evaluate and advise on alternate sources of business finance and different ways of raising finance. Communicates and advises what impact financial decision making is having on developments in regulation, ethics and governance. Assesses and advises on the right strategies to manage business and organisational performance in relation to business and finance risk while communicating the impact effectively. Governance, risk and control Evaluates all internal structures and governance to protect the interests of stakeholders in the long term. Recommends the right strategies to ensure the organisation adheres to governance structures and applies best practice internal controls. Highlights and manages risk appropriately. Makes use of risk management strategies with the best interests of the company and its stakeholders in mind. Monitors and applies legislation, policies, and procedures relevant to the organisation. Management accounting Uses development and performance management across the wider business and technological environment, as part of the strategic planning and implementation. Directs performance in the company through selecting and measuring financial and non-financial performance indicators. Collaborates on all tactical and organisational areas involved with budgeting, control, capital investments, resource management and people. Consults on design and use of the latest technology and information systems to evolve decision making and organisational performance. Stakeholder relationship management Develops positive relationships with internal and external stakeholders. Communicates and gains commitment from internal and external stakeholders. Uses emerging technologies to collaborate and communicate effectively with stakeholders. Applies professional and ethical judgement when engaging with stakeholders. Aligns organisational strategic objectives with stakeholder needs and manages expectations. Strategy and innovation Use business and commercial acumen awareness to deliver business objectives. Can suggest appropriate strategic options where sustainable plans and objectives can be developed. Evaluates, justifies, and puts strategic options in place. Uses various innovative methods to implement strategy and manage change. What is the difference between a management accountant and a financial accountant? The difference between both financial accounting and managerial accounting concerns the intended users of information. Managerial accountants require business acumen and their aim is to act as business partners, helping business leaders to make better-informed decisions, while financial accountants aim to produce financial documents to supply to external parties. Why be a management accountant? Management accounting offers a highly respected career path with doors into every sector and industry. It’s what essentially keeps our economy going by providing the vital support business leaders need. It’s also a path that doesn’t discriminate and is accessible to all, with or without a degree. So if you know where you’re heading after leaving school or college, it's possible for you to jump straight into the world of accounting by completing one of our entry level qualifications to help build your knowledge of business, finance and IT. With clear steps to progression, you’ll also steadily be on your way to earning a high-flying salary. Our ACA courses offer a defined path to becoming a certified management accountant regardless of the route you decide to take, whether it be university, an apprenticeship or if you already hold qualifications such as an AAT, with our AAT-ACA Fast Track route. What skills does a management accountant need? Management accountants are expected to have excellent analytical and numerical skills whilst maintaining a strong attention to detail. A solid foundation of basic accounting skills is also required for this role, including an understanding of the generally accepted accounting principles. An understanding of business is also important for management accountants, along with the ability to communicate effectively at all levels to advise and liaise with senior members of staff. The duties of a management accountant should be carried out with a high degree of organisational and strategic thinking skills. How much does a certified management accountant make? The average salary for a chartered management accountant in the UK is £51,229, an increase from a £40,000 average earned by management accountants without a chartership. These are figures that have been reached through surveying individuals at all career levels from entry level to senior level positions. If you’re looking for a new role, ICAEW Jobs have the latest management accountant jobs which you can apply for online. New roles are posted every day from businesses across the UK from a wide range of industries. Get started with your applications today by uploading your CV and get job alerts when new roles appear. Related: How to become a chartered accountant
Transferable accounting skills are a set of skills that can be utilised in a variety of careers. Whether you are looking to progress your career into the accounting world, or looking to break into the industry as a newcomer. There are many instances where you may need to demonstrate particular skills that might not be apparent from your career history. This can be especially so early on in your career or if you are looking to transition from one career to another. If you see a job you like the look of, know that you can do this but have some concern that your experience may not naturally show the required skills, it may be time to consider how to present your transferable skills. How do you find what skills are required for a job? The skills or competencies that your CV will be assessed against will usually be contained within the person specification for the role you are applying for. Every job advertised should have an accompanying job description and person specification. It’s the second part of this, the person specification that we are interested in. This will detail the skills and expertise that an employer is looking for. Gather together two or three example person specifications. Highlight words and phrases that appear numerous times to give you an idea of common key words and phrases. Rather than looking for specific work experience, some organisations recruit predominantly using a key skills or key competencies approach. This is especially so for organisations that are open to work experience from a broad and varied background. You will be given a specific list of skills in this case to focus on so no further research may be required. Hard skills and soft skills Skills are usually divided in to hard and soft. Soft skills are common across all industries such as ‘communication’ or ‘organisational’ skills. Hard skills tend to be more focused and can be specific industry skills like ‘financial reporting’ within accountancy or technology focused such as ‘Sage’ or ‘SAP’. You can choose either hard, soft or a mix of both in your CV. Always be guided by the person specification as to which skills to choose. How to present your skills Choose around four skills as individual subheadings in your ‘key skills’ section. Write a sentence on how you utilise the skill and what it means to you. Importantly, give a couple of examples of how, where and when you have demonstrated the skill. Giving specific examples is important and focus on the outcomes. It is always the results that are more important than the action. Use facts and figures to highlight both the scale and scope and outcomes of your examples. You can use examples from any work, education or other experience to demonstrate transferable skills. They don’t necessarily have to come from similar work to that which you are applying for. Tailor your skills for each application Examples of transferable skills for accountants: Critical Thinking Often an accountant needs to gather, analyse and interpret financial data which requires you to evaluate information as well as understand its implications. The ability to look at data from more than one side of the coin is advantageous, not just for accountants but for a wide range of jobs and industries. It can be applied in many ways, with critical thinking is an in-demand skill. Work Ethic This one may seem obvious, but having a strong worth ethic is required in many roles and positions. Included in work ethic is time management, respect for company policy and showing initiative. Organisational Skills A skill that accountants, in particular, require when they juggle several projects at once making sure that their attention to detail is consistent across the board. Time management, in particular with the ability to adjust workflow priorities. Attention to Detail Having close attention to detail and a critical eye is imperative to the accountancy industry. Communication The main role of an accountant is to analyse large amounts of data and then provide that information into a format which is organised, uniform and easy to understand for non-accountants inside the business and out. Language skills are included in this skill set. Digital Skills Knowing the basic functions and more advanced tools that various digital products provide is a transferable skill that is valuable on your CV. Adaptability Being able to adapt in any situation means that you are likely to learn and grow in your career, facing each new challenge as an opportunity rather than a blocker. Along with adaptability, being proactive is yet another transferable skill that many employers find particularly interesting. Transparency Being honest and transparent in your work is a transferable skill especially for the accountancy industry. Leadership Being able to mentor, teach, and be an approachable and friendly face for people that you’re responsible for are all skills that are welcomed into any workplace environment. Leadership skills include the strategic thinking and planning that is required in accountancy in general. Being able to offer advice with confidence and certainty as well as providing well thought out solutions to any problems that arise. Writing Skills Having the skills to communicate findings and information clearly and concisely is an exceptional skill to have. The ICAEW Academy of Professonal Development can help you hone your skills. https://www.icaew.com/learning-and-development/academy/virtual-learningy/virtual-learning can help you New roles are posted every day from businesses across the UK from a wide range of industries on ICAEW Jobs. Get started with your applications today by uploading your CV and get job alerts when new roles appear.