Business Analytics in Accounting: Boost Your Skills – and Your Career

Business Analytics in Accounting

Business analytics skills used to be a "nice to have" for many accounting and finance jobs. Today, they're a requisite for many roles in the profession.

A Robert Half Management Resources survey found that 61 percent of chief financial officers stated knowledge of business analytics was mandatory for at least some of their organization’s accounting and finance jobs. This includes 15 percent of CFOs who said business analytics skills were required for all financial positions.

"The ability to identify and interpret key data trends has gone from useful to mandatory in accounting and finance," said Paul McDonald, senior executive director for Robert Half. "Firms increasingly rely on their financial teams to deliver strategic guidance and data-driven recommendations. This demand will only accelerate as companies are able to tap into greater volumes of information."

How companies are developing business analytics skills

Because this expertise is frequently mandatory today, companies are helping their employees build their skills. Topping the list of professional development programs offered, as cited by CFOs, are in-house trainings and mentorships.

Other offerings include:

  • Paying for outside industry courses and events
  • Working with a consultant
  • Reimbursing for tuition expenses

If in-house trainings or mentorships aren’t available at your organization, look for workshops, seminars or other programs that focus on developing business analytics skills. Take a list to your CFO or manager to discuss the possibility of reimbursement.

Areas of focus for accounting and finance pros

To hone your business analytics skills, concentrate on these four areas:

  1. You must be able to filter through complex data and come up with meaningful conclusions.
  2. Once you’ve interpreted the data, you need strong communication skills to explain it to clients, colleagues and board members in a clear, jargon-free manner everyone can understand.
  3. Problem-solving skills are also vital, as data can change rapidly and without warning, which can in turn drastically impact your strategic guidance.
  4. Finally, stay abreast of relevant technology trends. Continuing education courses and online tutorials can help you stay proficient in the latest IT applications and software used to gather and interpret the data you use.

Business analytics skills are no longer just for business analysts – they’re an essential part of all accounting and finance jobs.


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