Improved Soft Skills Help Accountants Advance

Accounting and finance professionals looking to advance their careers will need to improve their soft skills, according to Accounting Management Solutions, inc. (AMS), a New England provider of outsourced accounting, financial management, and recruiting services.

"Technical and technological skills are essential, but they're not enough. Soft skills -- including the ability to write and present persuasively -- are what enables leaders to educate and lead," said AMS Director of Recruiting Services Jim Cote.

Cote said that organizations looking to hire finance and accounting professionals to replace growing numbers of retiring baby boomers will be seeking people who possess superior technical and soft skills.

"Finance and accounting professionals no longer work in isolation, and they're as responsible for generating revenue and profit as everyone else. To succeed, they'll need a broader skill set than traditionally has been the case," Cote said. "Greater use of information technology helps get the job done, but that means the people you bring on board must have broad and deep technical skills. They also must be able to work with a wide range of people, which is where soft skills become critical."

Technical skills refer to general accounting and financial reporting knowledge, and SEC reporting expertise for public companies. They also include internal audit and financial analysis skills, and knowledge of software systems. Soft skills include written, verbal, presentation, and interpersonal capabilities.

Cote said finance and accounting professionals are expected to help lead the organization on the technical front. Whether they're CFOs, controllers, compliance officers, internal auditors, or financial analysts, these people will need to show how information technology helps the organization excel.

"Finance professionals, especially those at mid- and senior-levels, need to apply their technical knowledge and pass along that knowledge to other staff," said Cote. "Soft skills will let them do it."

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