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Accountancy & Finance: Professional Practice

Hotspots of skills in demand: Jan - June 2019

Professional practice

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Professional Practice

Job flow will remain high in the January to June 2019 half across professional practice, with job opportunities available to those who are open to a new challenge.

Professional practice continues to face a major skills shortage, with employers always looking for perfectly presented, qualified, bright and driven candidates. Strong customer service and written and verbal communication skills are essential. Those with local tax and audit experience are also in continuous demand.

Senior Auditors and Insolvency professionals will be in particularly high demand. These candidates do not typically remain in their field long-term. The long hours and tight deadlines associated with these roles cause many to move into commerce and recycle their analytical and people skills in another finance role.

Pure Business Services roles are available, with candidates with people skills in high demand. With compliance and bookkeeping increasingly offshored, advisory and customer service skills are the focus. Employers look for candidates with strong communication skills.

Finally, recent legislation has created demand for candidates with up-to-date SMSF knowledge and experience. Such candidates will quickly secure their next job.

Jobseeker advice

The Fourth Industrial Revolution is here and rapidly gaining ground. Robotic automation is being used today in a wide range of industries to perform a variety of tasks. It’s also transforming accountancy and finance jobs through the automation of routine operational tasks. These range from payroll administration and bookkeeping to transactional accounting and audit functions.

What’s common is that robotic automation is used to perform repetitive, time-consuming tasks. There’s no denying that when it comes to routine and repetitive tasks, robots certainly have the upper hand.

In contrast, non-routine jobs are becoming more productive and valuable with the use of new technology.

The use of robotics to automate transactional work means employers demand a new type of finance professional – one with business acumen, analysis skills and the ability to interpret data and provide insights.

After all, employers don’t need people to crunch the numbers any more. They need people who can step in after the automation of data processing to review and interpret data and use it to provide deeper insights for their business or clients than was previously possible.

Given that the future workforce will be one where robots and humans work side-by-side, and where demand for human workers will centre upon highly-skilled professionals, there are two steps finance professionals can take to remain a valued employee:

The first is to continuously upskill. To remain relevant and employable in the face of rapid technological advances, finance professionals need to ensure your skills become more strategic and analytical.

Take charge of your own development. Ask for stretch opportunities at work where you can step outside your transactional role and gain experience providing value-add to the business. Seek out opportunities to analyse data and then offer strategic insights.

Use social media to stay plugged in to industry leaders and thinkers, attend conferences, seminars and webinars, and consider joining an industry or professional association to keep your skills moving forward.

The second step you can take to remain valuable to employers is to develop your soft skills.

Soft skills are a lot more difficult to automate or outsource, unlike transactional tasks. It is soft skills that will become highly valued in the future workforce.

Finance professionals should work on building the following soft skills:

  • Adaptability: An ability to accept and adapt to change is important because, like it or not, change is part of the modern working world. The jobs we do and the way we do them is and will change again and again. So, employers want people who can move out of their comfort zone and see change as an opportunity for growth and innovation.
  • Communication: Finance professionals must not only analyse and interpret data but communicate strategic advice in a way non-finance stakeholders understand.
  • Rapport building: Another soft skill that will continue to be valued for the foreseeable future is the ability to build rapport. I’ve yet to hear of a robot that can motivate a workforce, bank goodwill, return a favour or build a relationship. These are qualities that enable a business to run smoothly and get things done. It’s these meaningful personal relationships and interactions that see employees go the extra mile for a client or each other. Human relationships simply cannot, and will not, be replicated by robots.

So while automation, AI and robotics will help us become more productive by taking over the monotonous, repetitive parts of our jobs and helping us make better and more informed decisions, it’s the ability to continuously upskill and the growth of your soft skills that’ll help your career prosper in the years ahead.

Explore other Accountancy & Finance hotspots in:

Commerce & Industry
Public Sector