Level up: Continuous learning for finance professionals.
Airbase’s tremendously popular Path to Becoming a CFO series is a terrific forum for hearing first hand what CFOs and board members believe are important qualities and skills to advance in strategic finance careers. One recurring theme... keep learning. Kate Bueker, CFO at Hubspot, summed it up well: “Are you intellectually curious? Are you always trying to learn something new? My experience is that those people tend to succeed more than others.” Further education can lead to salary increases, but the imperative goes beyond that.
The rapid pace of change in the business world puts constant pressure on most everyone participating in it to keep up with new developments. A significant contributor to that pace is new technology and, indeed, early adoption of technological innovation leads to increased revenues. Finance departments are no exception and must continuously broaden their skill sets to join in.
A survey of finance professionals conducted by Deloitte and the Association of Finance Professionals in Business asked, “Which skill sets does finance need additional training in over the next two years?” The answers show a heavy emphasis on technology:
- Budgeting, forecasting and reporting tools: 52.3%
- Cloud-based accounting: 45.8%
- Data analytics and visualization: 44.3%
- RPA (robotic process automation): 23.9%
- Data science / machine learning: 22.8%
- Blockchain technology: 11%
However, another survey, by AICPA and NASBA, found that many college accounting programs aren’t doing an adequate job of preparing students for the skills they will need in the future. Finance professionals who want to upgrade their skills, or fill in any gaps in their education, should seize any opportunities now, while more companies recognize the importance of continuous learning. LinkedIn’s Leading with Learning report shows that interest in employee learning activities rose dramatically with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, including an impressive 301% increase in employees joining educational groups between January/February 2020 and March/April 2020. Overall, a clear majority (70%) of the respondents felt their CEO strongly supports education activities.
Below are some popular resources for staying on top of trends in finance. For further suggestions, ask others for their recommendations, either at virtual networking events or through online groups, like Airbase’s Off the Ledger Slack group — an active community for finance and accounting professionals only.
10 sources for obtaining CPE credits:
myCPE (can filter to show free courses)
Corporate Finance Institute (also offers free introductory classes on various financial topics)
15 top finance publications:
10 resources for upgrading tech skills:
5 finance podcasts:
Above all, the key to successful education is a curious mindset and a willingness to ask questions, whether you’re taking a class or listening to a webinar. Jim Cook, CFO at Orbital Insight, gives this advice: “You have to learn from the best and not be afraid to ask questions. You have to be comfortable giving your input, even when you haven’t totally figured everything out.” With so many options out there to figure things out, there really is no reason to sit on the sidelines.
Airbase offers a one platform solution to manage all non-payroll spend. It provides oversight and control over spending with real-time reporting and automatic syncing directly to your general ledger. Control all payments – physical cards, virtual cards, ACH, and checks – from one place. Close faster. Empower employees. Control spend.