Nearly a third of the finance executives surveyed recently by Robert Half Management Resources expected their company’s training and professional development budget to be higher this year.
In addition, more accounting and finance professionals receive training on regulatory compliance than in any other area, according to the survey.
When asked how their firms’ professional development budget for 2017 compared to 2016, 31 percent of accounting and finance leaders said it had increased somewhat or significantly this year, while only 11 percent said it decreased. Another 57 percent cited no change.
“Professional development goes beyond a simple training curriculum or individual performance improvement,” Tim Hird, executive director of Robert Half Management Resources, said in a prepared statement. “The chance to learn and grow with a company is a key competitive differentiator for recruiting and retaining staff who want to continually improve their skills. Businesses that fail to provide training and ongoing development programs risk losing out on top performers.”
Finance executives also were asked in which areas do their firms offer training for accounting and finance professionals. Regulatory compliance took the top spot (63 percent), followed by technology/software (57 percent), technical skills (56 percent), and soft skills (54 percent).
Hird noted that the evolving compliance environment requires more than just educating accounting professionals about current mandates.
“Staff must be given the expertise and tools to apply their knowledge to future regulatory changes,” he added. “Similarly, technology is advancing too rapidly for professional development programs to focus only on the here and now.”
So, how can your accounting firm make the move beyond traditional training? Robert Half Management Resources highlights the following six professional development options:
1.Guest speakers. Bring them in. Have them share insights on issues that affect your team.
2. Job rotations. Programs that specialize in role rotations help bolster different skills and develop new problem-solving techniques.
3.Mentoring. Having seasoned professionals counsel less-experienced colleagues is a tried-and-true strategy. But don’t stop there. Look for opportunities for newer employees to share expertise that can benefit more senior staff members.
4.Cross-departmental teams. Assign employees to project task forces that introduce them to colleagues from other departments. It’ll expand their skills. Also, when appropriate, consider giving them leadership positions and more authority.
5. Hire consultants. They can serve as mentors and help with training. In addition, when their engagements end, coordinate sessions where consultants can pass their key learnings to your full-time staff.
6. Volunteering. Support your team’s volunteer efforts. They can include assisting not-for-profit or philanthropic organizations with technical needs, such as compliance and budgeting.
Robert Half Management Resources’ research was based on phone interviews with more than 2,200 CFOs from a random sample of companies in more than 20 of the largest US metro areas.
Terry Sheridan is an award-winning journalist who has covered real estate, mortgage finance, health care, insurance, personal finance, and accounting and taxation issues for newspapers, magazines, and websites. A Chicago native and former South Florida resident, she now lives in New England.