The 5 skills you need to land a finance systems role - SystemsAccountants

Estimated reading time: 6 minutes The 5 skills you need to land a finance systems role

It’s a great time to be searching for finance systems jobs.

Global shocks and technological advances that upend workforces are nothing new, but there have been few periods of volatility as now, which is playing directly into the hands of talented professionals looking for new roles.

Waves of resignations are expected to continue through 2023, and trends that show that the growing demand for finance expertise, accountants, auditors and finance system managers is not being met. The shortage of finance talent has even been dubbed an “existential crisis”.

Although this widening divide has put job hunters firmly in control, competition for spots is fierce and the evolution of technology means individuals with certain skills and proficiencies to operate finance systems are more highly prized above others.

What the finance system does

As the world rebuilds, unprecedented investment in infrastructure, healthcare, mobility, digital transformation and renewable energy projects is taking place. At the heart of all these enterprises, keeping operations running, is the finance system.

For small businesses this may be a simple Excel spreadsheet tracking cash flow, while multinational corporations often have a range of technologies processing huge amounts of data to make complex calculations and prepare tax liabilities, anti-corruption compliance and other financial obligations.

Running a finance system usually entails both the knowledge of money management software such as Sage, Xero or Intuit and having strategies for the business to increase profits while maintaining a healthy income. Obtaining professional qualifications often entails getting to know these technologies well and anticipating how they will evolve and change the finance function over time.

Why accounting and finance salaries are soaring

The trouble is, individuals with that knowledge and combination of hard and soft skills are increasingly thin on the ground.

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the outlook for job growth in the Accounting and Audit field will not meet demand through 2026 and beyond. It’s the same story in the UK, where job openings significantly outnumber job seekers in accounting and finance, and vacancies rose by 22% last year.

As technology further reduces need for manual assistance in accounting processes, there is a premium on individuals who have softer skills such as problem-solving and strategic thinking to go along with knowledge of how multiple finance systems operate.

In an effort to land the very best, employers are updating resourcing strategies to include flexible working patterns and other perks, along with big bumps in pay, making finance systems jobs some of the best paid in finance.

According to Glassdoor, annual salaries for Financial Systems Managers average about £55,000 but are topping £80,000, while in the US, the average salary for that role typically falls between $107,772 and $140,239. A decade of experience or a director position may earn $124,634 to $169,489.

What are finance systems jobs like?

The Chief Financial Officer (CFO) role is shifting thanks to automation and the proliferation of data analytics tools.

Today’s CFO is increasingly an advisor to the business, plotting paths through choppy waters and mapping out growth strategies. When hiring for finance system jobs, CFOs value analytical abilities, the ability to identify business needs and objectives, and being comfortable interpreting data across multiple financial systems technology platforms.

The roles can be dynamic, as managing a company’s financial systems is a high-stakes role that has a direct impact on the business’s ability to stay on track. In return for a rigorous daily schedule, finance systems jobs can be a rewarding career path in many ways, particularly when it comes to salary.

Accounting Professionals are needed in every industry, and this versatility makes it a stable career choice, with ample chances to grow and learn new skills as technologies advance.

The top digital skills in finance systems

Data analytics is amongst the most sought after skills, according to a survey of CFOs, while having an eye to how technology can generate efficiencies internally is also desired.

Familiarity with data management and process automation are two trends that will only become more important over time, triggering greater need for financial system analysts, while environmental factors have led to increased demand for risk management skills.

Individuals without a traditional finance background but who have IT qualifications are being hired by resourcing teams who believe they can develop that industry knowledge later.

The 5 skills you need to land a finance systems role

Post-pandemic challenges such as remote workforces, inflation, supply chain wrangles and a great displacement of talent are testing finance executives in new ways. This often means bringing in proficiencies that were not in the job description for a finance systems role a few years ago, as they seek to move their companies forward.

With that in mind, we have identified five in-demand skills for a successful career in finance systems.

  • Data literacy

Data is the lifeblood of business today, and the ability to analyse and present data is perhaps the most desirable skill in demand today.

  • Application management

A deep understanding of finance applications and workflows is a valuable skill. Individuals will often play a key role in developing or implementing technology that will support the business’ aims.

  • Data reporting and visualisation

Business leaders need data to make decisions. Boards don’t have time to sift through spreadsheets or query massive databases; critical information needs to be presented through data visualisations such as charts and graphs.

  • Problem-solving

For all the efficiencies automation and machine learning can bring, robots lack critical thinking skills. Strong communication credentials can go a long way to helping teams foster solutions to problems, and this soft skill is increasingly desirable for employers.

  • Accountancy credentials

Accountants are leaving jobs in record numbers, at both corporations and audit firms. The majority of individuals are retiring, whilst others are taking advantage of the labour market to leverage finance skills into other professions. On the other side, college and university enrolments are down. Holding the Certified Public Accountant (CPA) qualification gives any candidate a huge advantage amongst shrinking competition.