The 3 Disciplines You Need To Become A Fantastic Finance Professional

A fellow finance professional asked me what are the key skills required to become a fantastic accountant. Rather focus on skills per se, I suggested he focus on mastering 3 disciplines. So, what are these disciplines and how do they help you become a fantastic accountant? and finance professional?

Before discussing the three disciplines let’s set the stage by exploring these two questions, “Why bother becoming and accounting or financial professional in the first place and for whom does this matter?”

Accountants and finance professionals play an important role in society and have been doing so for many thousands of years, all the way back to Babylonian times. Whether it’s been on clay tablets, ledgers, spreadsheets or ERP systems we’ve been recording and consolidating transactions both financial and non-financial to give an accurate and complete picture of the performance of our economies and the enterprises within them for various stakeholders, including; shareholders, governments, communities, colleagues, etc….

However until fairly recently, i.e. the last 150 years or so, the expectations of such stakeholders had been relatively unchanged (see timeline)

But with advances in technology and management practices the expectations of our stakeholders has been heightened and become more demanding. What was considered a fantastic accountant 150 years to 4000 years ago is considerably different today. Stakeholders (rightly so) now demand we create more value for them by providing:

  • Leading-edge insights that help them create more value;
  • The ability to intimately know their needs to appropriately guide and influence their decisions; as well as
  • Help put them into practice (operationalise their decisions) in an excellent way to better impact the numbers.

By looking to what our stakeholders need, we can figure out as finance professionals what ‘fantastic’ looks like, in effect, by mastering these three disciplines…

  1. Leading-edge insights;
  2. Customer intimacy & influence; and
  3. Impact with operational excellence

… we then earn the right to be known as an influential and fantastic finance professional.

To make this a goal in your near future, start by answering these three questions:

  1. Are you delivering leading edge insights to your stakeholders creating more value for them (i.e. are they giving your manager or organisation testimonials about the insights you’ve developed)? For ideas on building an analytics team to create these insights watch this CFO Talk: Leading a Data Analytics Team
  2. Do you know intimately all your stakeholders’ needs & wants? Have you captured these on a Stakeholder Analysis Template. Click here to learn about the Stakeholder Analysis Template?
  3. Have you been involved with developing reports on the value you’ve created for your stakeholders (would you be considered a trusted sparring partner by stakeholders and would they validate your Value Log. Learn about the Value Log here)?

You may notice in these questions I’ve mentioned nothing about developing any key skills, just having a value creation mindset that leverages a few tools to deliver on the value disciplines stakeholders are seeking. That’s why I also developed the Value Potential Pulse, a diagnostic web app that can be completed within 5 minutes on your phone, to take your pulse on how effectively you are delivering these 3 value disciplines.

Alternatively you can tune into the guest mentors we bring onto our Strength in the Numbers Show. We deconstruct and share their stories and hard won lessons so you can use their experience to grow professionally while learning how to leverage your strengths in the numbers faster for a more rewarding, successful and fun career as a finance professional.

So what do you think, does having the right mindset matter more than the right skills to become a fantastic finance professional?


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