It takes more than an expert knowledge of numbers to excel in your career as a finance professional. All the mathematical knowledge in the world is worthless unless you also can demonstrate that you stand out when it comes to soft skills. The following qualities will set you apart:
You can easily crunch the numbers and understand their importance. But to truly succeed, you have to convey this information in a way that others can grasp. You need strong, well-developed skills in oral, verbal and written communications.
- Fine-tune your presentation abilities and master the art of persuasive communication. This means relating to your audience, regardless of how much – or little – they know about finance and accounting.
Success in finance, as noted by one industry expert, is “15 percent technical and 85 percent psychology.” Your customers will often have issues with money and will need an objective advisor to steer them in the right direction.
- Seek first to understand. This means relating to different personality types and situations, whether it’s dealing with business partners, subordinates, co-workers or bosses. Practice active listening and focus on asking the right questions as you educate others.
Marketing and Sales
Financial professionals must be able to market their abilities to prospects. In order to do so, you must have a solid grasp on both your personal and professional assets.
- When selling yourself to clients, you must convey not only how much you know, but also how much you care. They want to know you can help them manage their funds and provide for their long-term needs.
Effective project management is crucial to any career. It includes organizational skills and attention to detail. You must efficiently and effectively schedule your time, meet budget deadlines, and complete projects.
- Are your files organized? This applies to both hard copies and electronic records. It’s critical to have ready access to needed information and data, in real time if possible.
Inevitably, you will encounter problems – situations where even your best laid plans go awry. Be prepared to meet them head on and put plans in place to solve them, rather than buckle under the pressure.
- Look beyond your own responsibilities. Help your co-workers solve their problems. If you are true team player, people will be naturally drawn to you and your career will flourish.
Hardware and Software
Computer proficiency and the ability to quickly master new programs will set you apart from the competition in today’s job marketplace.
- Excel at Excel. The more shortcuts, keys, programs and functions you know in Excel and related platforms, the better. In addition, familiarize yourself with current marketing and communications tools.
Never compromise your integrity. In addition to enabling you to look in the mirror each night and honestly say that you did your best, strong ethical standards are highly attractive to financial employers.
- Think not only in terms of financial competence, but also honesty, fairness, objectivity, diligence and professionalism. These are the qualities that win out in the end.
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