Lifelong Learning Is What It Will Take

To Be A 21st Century Accounting And Finance Professional



A new school year has just begun amid the confusion and uncertainty of COVID-19. While health and safety are top of mind, this crisis has reminded us of the importance of learning as an integral part of our lives, underscoring the value of lifelong learning. Whether you are an accounting and finance undergraduate student or a mid-career professional, you are likely pondering what skills you should be learning, and what competitive edge you need to build to unlock added value.

The current environment highlights the importance of finding new avenues to learn and grow. As CEO of IMA (the Institute of Management Accountants), I’m attuned to the latest trends in the accounting and finance profession and the evolution of the professional’s role in the 21st century. Research by both IMA and other organizations indicate that employers are, more than ever before, looking for professionals who continuously learn and upskill, staying ahead of the curve in a fast-changing profession. But with so many different learning programs available, current and aspiring professionals need to be strategic in what courses they take and which skills they acquire.

A recent joint report by IMA and Deloitte highlights these trends and the underlying need for continuous learning to stay competitive in the job market. Entitled “From Mirage to Reality: Bringing Finance Into Focus in the Digital World,” the report is oriented toward the organizational point of view, but also holds key lessons for individual professionals within the context of choosing to continue their education and deciding what skills to learn.

For example, when asked what skillsets were most in need over the next two years, most cited technical skills involving application of technology to finance and accounting processes. Knowledge of cloud-based accounting solutions and data analytics and visualization were cited by more than 40% of respondents as key skillsets. Close behind these skills, more than 20% of respondents indicated robotic process automation (RPA) and data science and machine learning as areas where professionals should concentrate their training. The emphasis on upskilling in technology is no surprise given that more than 50% of survey respondents indicated automation will significantly impact how their company performs work in the next one to two years.

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Source: Forbes

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