A Guide to Finance Skills: Definition and Examples
One of the most critical skills in today's business world is effective financial management. Prepping for a career in finance requires you to have some specific industry skills and technical abilities. These skills and abilities involve understanding, evaluating, and managing financial opportunities for maximum success. In this article, we thoroughly explain finance skills, discuss the necessary tools required to advance your finance career, and describe how to improve those technical skills.
What are finance skills?
Finance skills are a set of hard and soft skills required by individuals who work in the financial industry. It is the ability to use relevant skills and knowledge to understand and manage unpredictable financial situations and transform them into successful ventures. Finance professionals can learn these skills either through a finance education or through years of financial experience. Professionals who utilize these skills include accountants, underwriters, financial analysts, finance managers, and chief financial officers (CFOs).
Each finance profession possesses its own set of skill requirements. There are also several skills that are required of any financial professional, irrespective of their role or years of experience.
Why are finance skills important?
Financial management is necessary for any thriving business, so using financial skills relates to organizational success. Here are some reasons you should gain and improve your financial skills:
Assists organizations with financial planning
As a financial professional, you are primarily responsible for providing your organization with a finance framework. Effective resource management is vital to every organization. Finance skills in fund allocation and utilization also influence how well the organization performs.
Help make critical financial decisions
Financial skills provide certain necessary technical abilities. These can range from analyzing unfavourable financial situations and proffering meaningful and practical solutions. Every finance professional needs to be confident in these abilities.
Profit is important to every business. Possessing well-rounded financial skills in resource management will help you increase the firm's overall value and profit margin. These skills can even assist your personal budgeting and financial planning.
Provides economic stability
An aspect of financial management includes asset and debt management. Proper finance skills would help you manage the fluctuation caused by the economy. Being able to mitigate the effects of economic fluctuation would ensure your company's earnings remain fairly constant.
How to improve your finance skills
There are several ways to enhance your finance skills. The following options are some ways you could use to your advantage:
1. Get a finance education
One of the most common ways of beginning or improving your financial career is getting a formal education on the required skills and tools needed to thrive in the trade. Either as a primary or secondary degree, taking the time out to go through a structured learning program will be a great start to your finance journey.
2. Determine your area of weakness
As financial skills and management continue to evolve, there will be several new additions to the tools needed to make financial management easier. A great step for novices, and even seasoned professionals, is identifying areas of weakness in your financial abilities and then seeking ways to improve them through practice. It could be a software program you are having issues mastering. Once you feel confident in using that application, look for other areas you find challenging and improve them.
3. Make utilizing finance skills a habit
Applying finance skills from the business world to your personal life is a great way to sharpen your financial abilities. By keeping a record of your expenses via spreadsheets or analyzing the trends and triggers of your current spending, you can increase your confidence when applying those same skills to your organization's processes.
4. Consider industry certifications
When pursuing an entry-level role or furthering a career in the finance industry, consider earning a financial certification. Besides having a financial degree to provide a basis for your career journey, attaining a finance certificate offers you a proper and in-depth understanding of various finance-related specialties, including accounting, analysis, financial planning, and underwriting. They are a great way to improve your resume.
You can acquire certifications through several organizations, including the Financial Management Association.
Using finance skills in the workplace
Financial skills contribute to workplace success in the following ways:
Improving structure of company budget
It is essential to maximize the organization's resources. Depending on your current role, you may be required to manage and monitor the finance department's operations. Responsibilities in this role generally include planning, budgeting, and analyzing financial decisions.
Collaborating and coordinating financial decisions
Among the numerous duties of a financial professional is analyzing and coordinating financial decisions with other stakeholders within the firm. You will need to be critical and persuasive to ensure that the right decisions are made. You also need to guide any conversation or objection towards an appropriate solution.
Identifying and addressing potential financial risks
Your company's finances could encounter a potentially financially risky situation. You can use your analytical skills and expertise in risk management to identify and effect appropriate solutions. You can consult with other members of your company's executive team to determine a feasible and agreed line of action.
Examples of finance skills
The following are some examples of finance skills:
Financial planning provides professionals with the tools to provide long-term and short-term financial plans for a company. It is an industry-specific skill that indicates your knowledge of financial management. This skill also shows your employers that you can develop a comprehensive plan to maintain or achieve financial stability.
Analytical thinking is a financial skill that highlights your ability to review data and identify patterns, discrepancies, or additional financial information within a company's finances. This skill demonstrates to employers that you have the analytical ability to review and process complex data and financial information into actionable plans. Critical and analytical thinking is a vital tool for every finance professional.
Every business venture has its pros and cons. As finance personnel, you need to be able to convince members of your financial or executive team about the possible pros or cons of a business venture. This situation will typically require you to present some analytical and data-driven persuasive strategies to back up your claim.
An essential aspect of financial management is providing solutions to financial problems. Finance professionals are primarily tasked with responding to financial challenges within the organization, providing fitting solutions that solve the immediate problem, and acting as buffers against future challenges. You also have to find a way to settle liabilities using the company's available assets and resources.
Good communication is vital in this industry. As a finance professional, you need to communicate your decision on financial data and potential risks clearly and concisely. Your team or senior management staff should be able to understand your message without being misinformed.
In managerial finance roles, you need to make difficult decisions regarding potential problems or ventures. Making a wrong decision could be harmful to the company. As a finance professional, you need to be able to make educated financial decisions based on proven and quantifiable data.
Budgeting is a vital aspect of financial management. It is a financial skill that highlights your ability to manage and apportion large sums of money to the right areas. Often, these resources are limited. As such, you would need to identify and then distribute funds to those areas requiring urgent financial attention. Budgeting is a highly detail-oriented task that every financial manager should possess.
Related: Q&A: What Is Budgeting in Business?
Spreadsheet software is a vital tool for finance professionals. Gaining mastery of this tool showcases your ability to handle and organize extensive financial data and convert them into meaningful information to your employer. Knowing how to use this software properly is an essential skill to have for your financial career.
Cash flow management
This skill showcases your ability to monitor and manage the amount of cash your company has at any particular time. By highlighting cash flow management skills in your resume, you are showcasing your ability to maintain the financial accuracy of a business. This skill is highly beneficial to professionals in accounting and credit analysis.
Risks are a constant factor in business. Risk analysis involves your ability to analyze business situations and identify potential risks to a company's finances. This finance skill is important to help avoid or mitigate company losses.
Showcasing your finance skills
A great way to showcase your finance skills is by including them in your executive summary section, professional experience, and skill section. Here is an example of how to incorporate finance skills into your resume when searching for finance jobs:
Detailed oriented financial analyst with a proven background managing account portfolio and hands-on experience in quantitative analysis, budgeting, and forecasting.
Reviewed financial statements and analyzed company sales revenues, expenses, and tax rates to identify trends and create forecasts.
Create and deliver presentations, providing recommendations on short- and long-range ROI.
Identified key risk factors and formulated response plans to minimize or mitigate the loss of investment viability.
Developed a new forecasting management system to improve the accuracy of financial data by 23%.
Skills and Competencies
Proficient with Microsoft Excel
Corporate finance management
Cash flow management
Reporting and problem solving