THE TOP FINANCE SKILLS EVERY LEADER SHOULD HAVE Financial matters are at the core of successful businesses. Without financial acumen, both entrepreneurs and corporate leaders run the risk of poor decision making. Thus, it is essential for anyone in a financial leadership position to understand and develop these key financial skills:

  1. Budgeting and Forecasting
    Budgets and forecasts are at the center of every business strategy. It is the way leaders convert their ambitions and aspirations into tangible actions, resources and constraints that can be planned and managed. Budgeting allows companies to allocate the right amount of resources and costs to each activity or initiative — making sure that the desired results are achieved within the cost limits. Forecasting is a crucial tool for anticipating the resources, capital and personnel needed to deliver a successful result. Both of these skills are essential for finance professionals, if they intend to manage a successful business.

  2. Accounting
    Accounting is another fundamental skill for finance leaders. Accounting is the language of business, and as such, provides a clear understanding of a company’s financial health. By taking accurate records of expenses, revenues and other financial transactions, finance leaders are better equipped to gauge the performance of the organization. Moreover, understanding these financial figures provides organizations with greater financial agility and the ability to react quickly and appropriately to the changing business environment.

  3. Financial Analysis
    Financial analysis is the key to taking informed decisions. It involves gathering, analyzing and interpreting financial data in order to gain useful insights and inform decision making. It also helps leaders evaluate risks and opportunities and allows them to be proactive and make adjustments to the organization’s strategies and plans. Hence, financial analysis skills are an essential element of sound finance leadership.

  4. Financial Modeling
    Financial modeling is a key tool for building business cases, setting strategies, understanding complex financial interactions and forecasting financial results. It involves modeling various business scenarios, often in spreadsheets, in order to evaluate the potential of certain investments or plans. A skilled finance leaders will understand the key elements of financial modeling and how to use them in decision making.

  5. Strategic Thinking
    Strategic thinking is an important skill for finance leaders. It involves taking the long view and understanding the bigger picture — critically evaluating the current state of the business and how changes in internal and external conditions could affect it. It also involves both backward-looking analysis, exploring past successes and failures; and forward-looking analysis, formulating strategic plans that can provide a competitive edge into the future.

  6. Negotiation
    Negotiation skills are essential in most aspects organizational finance. Whether it is agreements with customers, vendors or even competitors, negotiation can help secure almost any situation with a favorable outcome. Finance leaders need to understand the different tactics and strategies of negotiation, and be able to identify the most advantageous way forward in any given situation.

7.Data Analysis
The gathering and analysis of data have become essential tools for any leader with finance responsibilities. With the right data, leaders can make informed decisions, develop predictive models and measure the performance of the organization. Knowing what data to look for and how to interpret it is a key skill for any finance leader — it identifies the trends, opportunities and weaknesses and allows them to build a better defensive posture.

8.Communication Skills
Effective communication is imperative for finance professionals to ensure the success of the business. Finance leaders must be able to clearly explain the financial situation and outlook to other professionals and stakeholders. This includes the ability to articulate strategies, objectives, financials and plans in easy to understand terms. Moreover, a finance leader must know how to build relationships with external stakeholders, such as bankers and investors, in order to secure additional resources and business development opportunities.

Having the right financial skills is essential for success in any organization. From budgeting and forecasting, to understanding accounting, financial analysis and strategic thinking — finance leaders must have strong knowledge in multiple skillsets. Moreover, the ability to communicate and negotiate effectively, analyze data and use financial modeling are all essential tools for finance leaders. With these skills, finance leaders are able to make informed decisions and develop effective strategies, setting the course for long-term business success.