The term ‘business competency’ denotes a range of broadly business or commercial-oriented skills. ‘Technical competency’ encompasses accounting and IT skills. There is not a total divide between business competency and technical competency. Change management and risk management skills for example both represent an ‘intermediate’ competency.
Despite the complexity and specialism of technical competency, what is interesting is that finance professionals attach greater importance to general business competencies above traditional technical skills in accounting and IT. This is true whether or not the individual finance professional is acting in a business partnering role. Thus overall it is communication, problem-solving, business and interpersonal skills that are all regarded as being very important (though not critical) by a finance professional, while technical accounting and IT skills are viewed as being no more than important.
On the contrary, management outside finance attach a much greater importance to the technical accounting skills that finance professionals possess. There is, however, consensus between finance professionals and non-finance personnel regarding the relatively high importance of communication, problem-solving and interpersonal skills.
In summary, different recommendations for different stakeholder groups have been drawn from the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA)’s research:
- For someone looking to start a career in finance, with ambitions to reach the senior tier, there is a need for a qualification that provides the technical core competence in finance but that also develops the management and commercial skill set.
- For the finance professional who is looking to ‘fast track’ and progress into senior roles, the focus should be on communication, interpersonal and strategic skills. In addition they should pursue the roles and activities that aid their development towards senior positions, namely those categorised as management accounting or strategic and advisory roles.
Check out the whitepaper “From ledgers to leadership: A journey through the finance function” for more tips and advice from the insiders.