Are Spreadsheets Holding Your Career Back?

Are spreadsheets keeping you from improving your financial analyst skills?

Your first spreadsheet is probably a memory to be treasured. But many FP&A professionals can’t think beyond the spreadsheet. Instead of developing other financial analyst skills, they spend time honing their ability to work wonders with Excel. Pivot tables, named ranges, array formulas, and every keyboard shortcut known to humanity—all the secrets of Excel become theirs to command.

It’s no surprise, then, that the Adaptive Insights CFO Indicator Report Q1 2016 found that 65% of CFOs cite technical and analytical skills as the attribute most important for their performance. And, as we showcased in a recent webinar, ditching manual consolidation and driving better engagement through improved workflow allow finance teams to truly, well, excel, with more time to focus on business analysis.

Think outside the spreadsheet cell
While spreadsheet skills may have gotten you where you are, they aren’t going to get you to where you want to go. Today’s finance leaders are being asked to take broader, more strategic roles in their organization. It’s no longer enough to organize numbers—you have to be able to tell the CEO what the numbers mean and what she should do about them.

In fact, there’s a major disconnect between the FP&A skills the CFO values and skills the CEO values. KPMG conducted a survey asking CEOs about the most important business attributes a CFO could possess. While the CFO prizes technical skills above all else, CEOs ranked those skills dead last, with only 8% saying they were important.

Here are some of the financial analyst skills CEOs are looking for:

  • Global experience (48%)
  • Experience with transformation and innovation (34%)
  • Industry experience (32%)
  • Experience with new technologies (21%)
  • Experience in a commercial (non-finance) role (15%)

This disconnect means everyone on the finance team from the CFO down is going to struggle to move up the corporate ladder if they don’t diversify their skill sets.

The future? Depends on who you ask
Looking towards the future, CFOs and CEOs also experience a disconnect regarding what will impact finance leaders in the coming years. According to the CFO Indicator Report, CFOs think big data and analytics will have the greatest impact on their future role (43%), followed by the breaking down of silos and embedding of the finance function across business units (39%). However, in KPMG’s survey CEOs cite regulatory environment (40%) and risk management (37%) as the two major issues.

Advice from your CEO
How can finance staff—from junior analysts to the CFO—get more of the experience CEOs value most? Moving to an active planning system gives the finance team experience with transformation and innovation, which CEOs said they were looking for. Automated finance software also allows your team to more easily run what-if scenarios to help manage risk and adapt to changes in the regulatory environment. Finance staff who are using these tools will be able to become more strategic in their roles while improving visibility among leadership—and increasing their opportunities for promotion.

Tactical, static spreadsheets don’t provide the strategic basis you need to grow the company or your role. But no worries. Learn how to grow the business and grow your financial analyst skills—visit our Professional Development page today.

Watch the webcast, “5 Reasons to Think Beyond Spreadsheets”

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