All change in the skills department

By Gareth El Mettouri 26th November 2018

Companies around the world are facing challenges to find skilled professionals, and the finance sector is no different. Globally, almost nine in ten firms (89%) said it is a challenge to find the right people to join their finance teams. Across the UAE, 96% of CFOs are finding themselves in a similar situation. This has become even more challenging in the face of digital transformation and automation, with both traditional finance and interpersonal skills also becoming must-haves in the workplace. 

Within the UAE, the areas in which it is most difficult to find finance and accounting staff are:

  • Accounting – 43%
  • Financial planning and analysis - 39%
  • Risk and compliance – 35%
  • Financial management – 32%
  • M&A and corporate finance – 32%

Whilst this situation is similar across many different countries there are some regional differences when it comes to the skills gap. This is typically influenced by the speed of the digital transformation journey that is taking place and cultural priorities.

In France, Hong Kong and Singapore, business and financial analysis top the scales as the most difficult skills to find. However, in the UK and Belgium financial planning and control tops the list. So, the question remains: will today’s finance skills meet the demands of tomorrow?

As we hurtle towards an increasingly automated finance function, finance leaders believe some technical and soft skills are expected to become more important than others. Soft skills such as leadership, communication and commercial acumen are important for the finance sector to develop in the next five years. But these must marry with the development of technical abilities such as financial software, accounting and financial reporting, regulation and risk management capabilities. Key skills demands in the future will focus on strategic vision, problem solving, IT skills and data analytics.

To fill the skills gap and adapt to changing skill set requirements, companies are having to look at a range of alternative options to address the war for talent. Standard options outlined in the Robert Half Salary Guide have included salary rises, bonus payments, and flexible benefits such as car allowance. Whatever the solution may be, the finance sector must act on the shortfalls in talent that are preventing businesses from moving forward. Businesses must continually adapt to changing requirements and skill sets to recruit, develop and nurture talent to move their organisations forward and advance their employees’ potential.

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