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Business partnering to be top skill in demand for accountants

Unfortunately, 43% of those managers will be hampered by a lack of skilled candidates when trying to hire, with one of the top skills in demand being business partnering.

Business partnering has been a buzz word in the industry for the past 12 months, with accountants increasingly expected to partner closely with other business areas. However, the question must be asked, are businesses successfully adopting this?

Marks Sattin’s research of over 400 hiring managers showed only a quarter of those surveyed believe they have adopted business partnering “very well”, with almost half stating just & lsquo;ok.’ At the other end of the spectrum, 16% stated “not very well” and 11% have not adopted business partnering at all.

While skills shortages often lie at the core of this problem there are other difficulties when it comes to implementing business partnering. Cultural and organisational challenges can impede the progress of business partnering as employees are often resistant to this type of change.

Seventy percent of accounting managers do hire based on interactions with other departments. Of those that do hire with business partnering in mind 60% include members of other departments in the interview process and 20% do so sometimes.

Given that stakeholder buy-in in the recruitment process is often vital to the success of business partnering in practice, those organisations that not include other departments in the hiring process would do well to reconsider their stance.

“If your accounting team is going to be interacting with other departments then you need to have the other departments in the interview and selection process. Only a quarter of those surveyed believe they are succeeding at business partnering. This needs to improve if the accounting sector is to grow and become more successful. Personality and soft skills are increasingly important to the role of the accountant,” said Ieuan Williams, Director, Marks Sattin.

Management accountants in particular are well placed to see opportunities and potential issues within a business, with the objective point of view offered by a management accountant adding significant value to a business. For those looking to climb the career ladder, engaging with and understanding other business departments is integral to taking on senior leadership responsibilities.

“As the role of accountants and finance as a whole continues to evolve soft skills are becoming increasingly important. These skills are often as important as technical knowledge when it comes to securing a new role. Candidates seeking new roles would do well to come prepared with examples and be able to demonstrate an understanding of how their role fits in with and adds value to the rest of the business,” said Williams.

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