According to a recent survey by Robert Half Management Resources, more than 8 out of 10 CFOs believe strategic-thinking skills for accounting and finance professionals are important. In a poll of more than 2,200 CFOs, 30% feel those skills are mandatory while 56% somewhat are in favor of them.
The unfortunate bit is barely half offer professional development opportunities to CPAs to help build these skills. A written statement by Tim Hird, executive director of Robert Half Management Resources noted that financial executives prefer CPAs who can formulate and execute strategies but most firms are doing little to do anything about it.
He added that even if the employers don’t ensure proper training to allow accountants and finance professionals to grow their strategic-thinking skills, those with a senior rank must take it upon themselves to polish their problem-solving approaches.
To help CPAs get started in that direction and enhance their strategic-thinking skills, Hird offers 8 tips listed below:
1. Ask for training Hird believes that if the employer hasn’t offered the training yet, then CPAs should ask for it. He urges CPAs to explore additional professional development options such as working with a mentor.
2. Collaborate across departments Hird is of the opinion that working with colleagues belonging to different functions will help CPAs in broadening their organizational view and learning new approaches for resolving problems.
3. Participate in external events CPAs must make it a point to attend relevant industry conferences and training programs to refresh and update their accounting knowledge – even if the employer doesn’t choose to reimburse the costs.
4. Lead a project team – if possible CPAs should take an initiative to improve their management skills and enhance their business acumen. Multitasking and people management are critical to both professional and personal growth.
5. Switch job roles This will expose CPAs to a multitude of business units, processes and challenges and also help them learn new problem-solving techniques.
6. Be a big data expert Big data is the buzzword of 2016. CPAs should learn how to work with business intelligence and then identify strategic recommendations for the business. Since playing with numbers is cakewalk for CPAs, managing big data will offer a jump ahead in the career.
7. Consult Pursuing consulting roles will assist the CPAs in working with different practicing firms and share knowledge – and also learn from them in the process.
8. Improve communication skills Coming up with fresh ideas is not enough. CPAs must be able to communicate them across platforms and ranks properly.
All CPA should inculcate strategic-thinking skills in their profession. Now is the time to get started!