What key disciplines do you need to become a fantastic finance professional?

Written by on January 19, 2019

A fellow finance professional asked me a couple weeks ago what are the key skills required to become a fantastic accountant, and rather focus on skills per se I suggested he focus on mastering 3 disciplines? So what are these three disciplines and how do they help you become a fantastic accountant and finance professional?

Before jumping into answering these, how about we ask why bother becoming one in the first place and for whom does this matter?

Accountants and finance professionals play an important role in society and have been doing so for many thousands of years all the way back to Babylonian times. Whether it’s been on clay tablets, ledgers, spreadsheets or ERP systems we’ve been recording and consolidating transactions both financial and non-financial to give a more accurate and complete picture as possible of the performance of our economies and the enterprises within them for various stakeholders, such as shareholders, governments, communities, colleagues, etc….

However until fairly recently in our profession, i.e. the last 150 years or so, the expectations of such stakeholders had been relatively unchanged (see timeline)

But with the advances in technology and management practices such expectations of those stakeholders we serve have now heightened and become more demanding. What was considered a fantastic accountant 150 years to 4000 years ago is considerably different to today. Nowadays stakeholders (rightly so) want from us in some shape or form to create more value for them by providing:

  • Leading-edge insights that help them create more value;
  • The ability to intimately know their needs to appropriately guide and influence their decisions; as well as
  • Help put them into practice (operationalise their decisions) in an excellent way to betterimpact the numbers.

By looking to what our stakeholders want, we can then figure out as finance professionals what fantastic looks like, in effect, by mastering these three (leading-edge insights; customer intimacy & influence; and impact with operational excellence) we then earn the right to be known as an influential and fantastic finance professional.

So if this is your goal for the year ahead then answer these three questions:

  1. Are you delivering leading edge insights to your stakeholders creating more value for them (i.e. are they giving your manager or organisation testimonials about the insights you’ve developed)?
  2. Do you know intimately all your stakeholders’ haves & wants? Have you captured these on a Stakeholder Analysis Template?
  3. Have you been involved with developing controls to report on the value you’ve created for your stakeholders (would you be considered a trusted sparring partner by stakeholders and would they validate your Value Log)?

You may notice in these questions I’ve mentioned nothing about developing any key skills, just perhaps having a value creation mindset that leverages a few tools to deliver on the value disciplines stakeholders are seeking. That’s why I also developed the Value Potential Pulse, a diagnostic web app that can be completed within 5 minutes on your phone, to take your pulse on how effectively you are delivering these 3 value disciplines.

Alternatively you can tune into the guest mentors we bring onto our Strength in the Numbers Show, who deconstruct and share with you their stories and hard won lessons that they have practically figured out how they became fantastic finance professionals so you can too. Which will ultimately help you learn how to leverage your strengths in the numbers faster so you can have a more fun, rewarding and successful career as a finance professional.

So what do you think, does having the right mindset matter more than the right skills to become a fantastic finance professional?

The author Andrew Codd is the producer of the Strength in the Numbers Podcast which interviews real finance practitioners to break down their hard won lessons and deconstruct their practical methods that work on the job and which you won’t typically find in textbooks or exams so that we create more influential finance professionals worldwide who solve meaningful problems for their organisations and in return have fun, rewarding and successful careers in finance.


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