What makes the perfect finance professional?

The seven key qualities for the future finance professional

Key Takeaway

The combination of the changes that have been felt across the accounting profession and the increasingly critical role finance professionals play in the global economy today requires a particular skill-set to thrive. We know the seven key skills needed.

As Malaysia works towards steady economic growth and improving lives across the region, it is the finance professionals who are at the forefront of driving this future. But as the world changes, there’s an anticipated shift in the expectations of these finance professionals as key drivers of our economy.

The most sought-after skills

The right finance talent is needed to facilitate long term efficiency and productivity in Malaysia’s future. According to a major new global study by ACCA (the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) there are seven key qualities for the future finance professional.


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The seven sought-after skills employers are seeking today and in the decade ahead are :

  • intellect;
  • creativity;
  • emotional intelligence;
  • vision;
  • experience;
  • mastery of the digital world;
  • technical skills; and
  • a strong ethical compass.

Collectively, these seven distinctive attributes come together to create the optimum blend of technical knowledge, skills and abilities.

All the skills specified recognise an important factor – the world is changing.

For current and future finance professionals, these ‘magnificent seven’ offer a unique insight into meeting the various needs of business and society.  Likewise, it also details what individuals can do to stay ahead and be effective and efficient in their roles.

Professional quotients for success finance professionals

Professional quotients for success as identified by ACCA’s global research into the future of professional accountancy

All the skills specified recognise an important factor – the world is changing.

Malaysia is at the centre of the ASEAN region where reducing the effects of climate change and disaster risk, rapid urbanisation, improving governance and institutions, and encouraging private-sector led growth to create jobs are critical to reduce poverty and build shared prosperity across the area.

They also need to prepare for volatility and shocks by expanding safety nets to protect the poor and vulnerable.

Accounting and finance professionals are now at a crossroads – they can watch as robots and advances in technology commoditise their skills and downgrade their role, or they can adapt to the new environment.

The accountancy profession must be prepared for this uncertain future. Tomorrow’s professionals need to have the highest level of professional standards and be guided using a global mindset to see beyond the numbers.

Stand and watch – or move ahead?

Over the past decade, finance professionals have revolutionised the way in which they work. They are becoming leaders, trusted expert counsels and key strategic advisers to growing organisations across the public and private sectors.

Accounting and finance professionals are now at a crossroads – they can watch as robots and advances in technology commoditise their skills and downgrade their role or they can adapt to the new environment and increase their influence and the value they add to organisations.

The seven qualities that have been identified in the report are the key drivers shaping the profession over the next decade and beyond:

  • Technical and ethical competencies (TEQ): The skills and abilities to perform activities consistently to a defined standard while maintaining the highest standards of integrity, independence and scepticism.
  • Intelligence (IQ): The ability to acquire and use knowledge: thinking, reasoning and solving problems.
  • Creativity (CQ): The ability to use existing knowledge in a new situation, to make connections, explore potential outcomes, and generate new ideas.
  • Digital quotient (DQ): The awareness and application of existing and emerging digital technologies, capabilities, practices, strategies and culture.
  • Emotional intelligence (EQ): The ability to identify your own emotions and those of others, harness and apply them to tasks, and regulate and manage them.
  • Vision (VQ): The ability to anticipate future trends accurately by extrapolating existing trends and facts, and filling the gaps by thinking innovatively.
  • Experience (XQ): The ability and skills to understand customer expectations meet desired outcomes and create value.

Individually, they are not new to the profession, but together, these skills represent how finance professional can proactively manage the future and enhance their preparedness for the unknown.

The skills are based on the information and insight from over 2,000 business and finance professionals worldwide across two years, including 300 leaders in every sector across 19 countries. This global research has captured what professional accountants need to have in order to continue adding value to businesses, other organisations and economies in years to come.

Growing importance of digital skills

The report identified technical and ethical competencies as the key skills that remain at the core of the profession. They underpin success, representing both expertise and integrity, which are essential components to ensuring the credibility of accountancy.

Similarly, digital skills are also highly recognised as being essential. As upcoming technologies continue to become an inextricable part the environment and our everyday lives, a digital focus by professionals is a necessity. Notably, 55% of respondents to this research thought that the development of automated accounting systems would have the most impact on the industry over the next 10 years.

Since the most recent financial crash and big corporate disasters including Toshiba and Olympus, the accounting profession has changed tremendously. Society is greatly influenced by the actions of finance professionals. Future professionals must be mindful of their actions and understand the expectations as they respond appropriately.

Malaysia’s finance professionals play a huge role in the global economy. East Asia and Asia Pacific remain one of the main growth drivers of the world economy, accounting for nearly two-fifths of global economic growth according to the World Bank.

ACCA’s research understands what economies and businesses need from their professional accountants, and has translated that need into key attributes that make the ‘perfect professional’ vital to success in modern business. Find out how you can future-proof your employability at thefuture.accaglobal.com.

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