Employers Demanding Extensive Strategic Skills from Finance Professionals

by Paul Carboni | Oct 03, 2016

A new era of business is dawning as organizations look for finance staff—from the C-suite to entry-level—with a broader mix of competencies. Employers are demanding finance professionals with management accounting skills, business skills, and the ability to be strategic business partners. But just as importantly, they are seeking individuals with strong people and presentation skills who can effectively communicate to influence change within the organization.

“It’s all about people,” said Nick Araco, CEO of the CFO Alliance, in CGMA Magazine. “Most of the dialogue we’re having is going back to talent, regardless of whether we’re talking about strategy, or capital structures, or regulatory environments, the people side pops into every conversation.” The fact is, there is a shortage of finance professionals with the people, business, and leadership skills necessary for success in today’s volatile business climate.

Investing in the Future

While employers search for the right fit for their open positions, they may do well to look at their existing employees and consider implementing training in these newly demanded skills. Thirty-one percent of the staff-level CPAs surveyed by the AICPA and Robert Half said that they love their current jobs and want to continue to build skills and take on challenging projects. And while they responded that they would like to grow in some fundamental accounting areas like tax, Excel, and budgeting, an equal amount of respondents said they want the opportunity to learn soft skills like public speaking, management, and communications.

Upskilling your current employees is a one-two punch: Your current staff tends to have a good understanding of your business. By providing them with training in soft skills and business partnering, you are helping to strengthen your finance team. Furthermore, investing in your staff and presenting them with opportunities for learning and growth increases employee engagement—which is always good for the bottom line.

A Framework for Development

The American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) recognized the imperative for supporting finance and accounting professionals who seek to further enhance their competencies in strategic thinking and business partnering skills. In 2012, the AICPA and the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA), the world’s largest professional body of management accountants, launched the Chartered Global Management Accountant® (CGMA®) designation to help these professionals develop the competencies necessary to drive sustainable business success.

More than 150,000 accounting and finance professionals today have the CGMA, making it the most widely held management accounting designation in the world. The CGMA distinguishes professionals who have advanced proficiency in finance, operations, strategy and management. They have the acumen to view businesses holistically and understand myriad complexities from a broad perspective to drive better decision making within their organizations.

Getting the Designation

Finance and accounting professionals attain the CGMA designation by meeting rigorous education, exam and practical experience requirements. CPAs, because of their extensive education and deep expertise, have an expedited pathway. They must sit for the final CGMA strategic case study exam, which simulates a real-world business scenario and assesses proficiency across multiple disciplines. In advance, they can enroll in the self-paced CGMA Program that offers learning and exam preparation and carries more than 50 CPE credit hours. Through the CGMA Program, candidates fine-tune their skills in areas such as strategy development; leading and influencing; and presenting and communicating information.

The CGMA designation is underpinned by extensive global research to maintain the highest relevance with employers and develop competencies most in demand. CGMAs must commit to lifelong education and adhere to a stringent code of ethical conduct. Through the CGMA, the AICPA and CIMA have introduced the CGMA Competency Framework, the Global Management Accounting Principles and the AICPA | CIMA Competency and Learning platform to provide a structured approach to talent development and help management accountants and their employers identify competency gaps.

To learn more about the CGMA Program and designation, please visit

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