Calls to have accounting removed from the skilled list of occupations for immigrants by the Australian Workforce and Productivity Agency are indicative of a changing marketplace. Australia is certainly not short of Accountants but that doesn’t mean individuals with specific skills are not in high demand.
So what can you do to ensure your finance career trajectory doesn’t take a swan dive?
Securing financial qualifications such as MBA, CPA and CA are an absolute must and without these you can’t even line up at the ladder, as you simply will not be allowed to climb. These qualifications allow you to participate in the Finance and Accounting sector. It’s the key that will open the door to a finance future.
Last week Jeff Haden, LinkedIn Influencer, published an article How The Rich Say They Got Rich referencing a study from the SpectrumGroup analysing the 132,000 people in the U.S. with a net worth of over $25 million detailing how the wealthy say they made their money. The second most important attribute to their success was higher education (78%). It’s no surprise that hard work was the most important at 87%.
Embracing digital disruption – disrupt before you are disrupted
Technology such as ERP and Business Intelligence tools are making Accounting less transactional and more analytical; the future is not around debits and credits but about using data to bring intelligence to your key stakeholders.
And then there is the challenge of digital disruption. Forward thinking Financial Accountants are asking questions like; how can we use mobile apps to generate more return? How can we use digital disruption to engage and hold our customer? Finance professionals are being forced to think operationally and strategically about business growth and therefore encouraging digital disruption as a strategic growth avenue is critical.
Target the growth industry
Grow your career in the markets that are growing. The Australian Government’s 2015 Employment Projections Report released in March this year shows Australia’s top 3 growth industries for the next 5 years are Health Care and Social Assistance (+18.7% growth pa), Education and Training (+15.6%) and Professional, Scientific and Technical Services (+14.4%).
While it is ideal to be well positioned within a high growth industry the report expects that almost 50% of Australian industries will grow by double digits. At the other end of the spectrum, the report predicts a significant shrinking of the Australian mining industry over the coming 5 years with an expected growth rate of -17.8%.
Understand the skills in demand
There are 2 key skills in demand right now for Financial Accountants:
- Influencing internal stakeholders with financial data
- Financial stewardship
Reporting numbers is yesterday’s news. A finance person needs to have critical soft sales skills such as negotiation and rapport building skills; skills that don’t get taught in degrees. You can’t be a good finance person unless you can use financial data to influence your business to move forward. However, there’s no point in influencing the business if your technical finance skills aren’t up to the task. You need to be a damn good technical Accountant and damn good financial steward!
Get a mentor
When I say mentor, I don’t mean a CPA or CA mentor, I mean a CFO or Financial Controller that can mentor you when you have critical decisions to make. One thing that CFOs and CEOs have at their fingertips is CEO and CFO forums where they participate in peer to peer learning with like-minded executives. This gives them the opportunity to receive feedback and guidance on critical decisions they’re making.
These forums don’t exist for Financial Managers or Financial Accountants, so you need to turn to a regular person to have regular mentoring steering sessions with on a monthly basis. These people should operate like a business coach where you bounce ideas on and seek advice from.
The Financial Executive Women (or FEW) is a forum that invites female CFOs to be mentors to other females coming up through the ranks. FEW is for the development of the CFO and the development of the mentee. Necessity dictates that women forums do this very well.
Stay tuned for the coming blog post – How to Choose a Mentor.
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