• Finance professionals cite strong leadership skills as the top attribute that contributes to the success of finance and accounting professionals (60%)
  • Strong technical skills (47%) and effective communication (33%) follow behind
  • Managing stress arising from crisis situations was cited as the greatest challenge (42%) when working with other departmental colleagues.

London, 16 September 2015 – Success can be measured in many different ways but in terms of how a professional can reach the top, strong leadership skills have been identified as the most important attribute. According to new research by leading specialist recruitment consultancy, Robert Half UK, 60% of CFOs and FDs surveyed said leadership was the top attribute that contributes to the success of finance and accounting professionals.

The study also highlighted the importance of being technically astute. Successful finance leaders must be appropriately skilled and knowledgeable, which explains why almost half (47%) of finance executives surveyed stated strong technical skills as being the second most important skill for success. A third (33%) cited effective communication as the third key skill for a successful career while a competitive nature (32%), futuristic outlook (30%), strong interpersonal skills (17%) and risk taking (16%) follow behind.

The study also highlighted the synergies between the skills needed to be successful and the roles that finance and accounting professionals find challenging when working with other departmental colleagues.

The most common cross-departmental challenge identified was managing stress arising from crisis situations (42%), a situation where leadership and effective communication skills come into their own. Prioritising conflicting deadlines throughout the company (26%), learning to interact with a variety of personalities (15%) and conveying financial information in non-financial terms (14%) were the other main challenges listed, solutions to all of which lend themselves well to the key skills for success outlined by the FDs and CFOs surveyed.

Phil Sheridan, Managing Director of Robert Half UK, commented: “Accounting and finance no longer operates as a silo and has affirmed its position as a strategic partner to the business, encompassing more than the ability to crunch numbers. The importance for accounting and finance professionals to have exceptional soft skills as well as technical ability is a reflection of that. These professionals need the leadership skills and effective communication backed by technical ability to deliver actionable insight for the business.

“As we enter what is most commonly the busiest period for accounting and finance professionals with businesses preparing budgets for next year and preparations underway for year-end reporting, businesses looking to hire additional headcount should seek out candidates who display key leadership qualities and exceptional communication skills alongside strong technical ability to deliver added value.”

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Notes to editors

1The annual study was developed by Robert Half UK and is conducted by an independent research firm. The study is based on more than 200 interviews with finance executives from companies across the UK, with the results segmented by size, sector and geographic location for companies across the UK and worldwide.

About Robert Half

Robert Half is the world’s first and largest specialised recruitment consultancy and member of the S&P 500. We have once again been named to FORTUNE’s “World’s Most Admired Companies®” list and remains the top-ranked staffing firm (2022). Founded in 1948, the company has over 300 offices worldwide providing temporary, interim and permanent recruitment solutions for accounting and finance, financial services, technology, legal and administrative professionals. Robert Half offers workplace and jobseeker resources at roberthalf.co.uk and twitter.com/roberthalfuk.