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5 Finance Technical Skills for Career Success 

March 11, 2024

Ninety-two percent of jobs today require digital skills. Yet research widely suggests that most of the workforce does not possess the skills necessary to thrive in these positions. This is especially true for finance technical skills – Gartner reports that only 18% of finance staff demonstrate digital competency.  

Finance professionals have an opportunity to stand out from the crowd by committing to learn new finance technical skills. Increasing your knowledge of technical skills for finance is vital for accelerating your career and adding value to your team.   

But how can you decide what finance technical skills to focus on? We’ve got you covered. Five important technical skills for finance are: 

Query Engineering

In the past, finance teams needed someone well-versed in a programming language like structured query language (SQL) for processing information in large databases. But with the proliferation of AI in finance departments, teams can now do this via natural language processing (NLP).  

Query engineering, the art of creating efficient and effective database queries via NLP, is a technical skill for finance that industry pros need to nurture to efficiently extract meaningful insights from their data. This skill enables financial professionals to streamline the data retrieval processes, saving time and resources. It allows them to filter and organize information with precision, uncovering patterns and anomalies that might otherwise go unnoticed. 

Moreover, in a time when data security is paramount, query engineering plays a pivotal role in ensuring the confidentiality and integrity of financial data. Staff trained in query engineering are better equipped to navigate complex databases securely, minimizing the risk of data breaches. 

Advanced Excel Functions

Excel may not be a “cutting-edge” technology, but it’s a staple in finance departments and one that doesn’t seem to be going anywhere. Becoming more familiar with formulas and shortcuts in Excel can help you provide insights and analysis more easily.  

Excel empowers financial pros to dissect and interpret complex financial information swiftly, fostering informed decision-making. The automation capabilities of advanced Excel functions not only streamline repetitive tasks but also enhance accuracy, reducing the margin for errors. As financial roles evolve, those equipped with finance technical skills in Excel gain a competitive edge, ensuring efficiency and precision. 

Some of the most used Excel skills in finance include: 

VLOOKUP: Search for a specific value in a table 

INDEX and MATCH: Offer more flexibility in searching and retrieving data in a table  

IF: Allows the use of conditional logic 

VBA and macros: VBA (Visual Basic for Application) is a programming language used to create macros, automated sets of actions 

Pivot tables: Essentially “summary” tables that pull from other more extensive tables 

Data formatting: Make tables more accessible and digestible  

Charts: Present financial information in a visual format 

Financial modeling: Forecast future financial performance  

Data validation: Ensure data accuracy by restricting the type and range of values for certain cells 

Data Analysis

Data analysis is an imperative finance technical skill, as it empowers finance pros to extract actionable insights from vast datasets. By scrutinizing financial data, professionals can identify trends, detect anomalies and make informed decisions. Data analysis enhances forecasting accuracy, risk management and strategic planning.  

In an environment dominated by information, proficiency in data analysis ensures financial experts remain agile, adapting to market dynamics. Moreover, it strengthens financial reporting and aids in compliance.  

As finance becomes increasingly reliant on data-driven strategies, the ability to analyze and interpret data is a foundational finance technical skill, ensuring professionals remain effective in their roles. 

Data Visualization 

The use of engaging visuals makes it easy for anyone within an organization to understand the story conveyed within data. That’s why data visualization, including proficiency in tools like Tableau, is one of the most important technical skills for finance today.  

Data visualization makes presentations more persuasive and accessible. Charts and graphs facilitate efficient communication, enabling stakeholders to grasp trends and patterns quickly. Overall, proficiency in data visualization ensures finance professionals can communicate insights effectively, fostering transparency, understanding and strategic decision-making within the organization. 

As organizations focus on new ways to utilize data to improve operations, data visualization may help non-finance employees improve their data literacy.  

Process Automation

Process automation in finance refers to the use of technology to streamline and automate routine tasks, workflows and processes. This includes automating data entry, reconciliation, invoice processing and other repetitive work. Automation reduces manual errors, enhances accuracy and increases efficiency within finance departments. 

Finance departments face growing complexity and data volumes. Process automation enables finance teams to focus on strategic tasks, analysis and decision support rather than spending time on manual and time-consuming activities. Automating processes helps teams stay agile, reduce costs and improve overall operational effectiveness in today’s data-driven landscape. 

Finance professionals with process automation skills are valued for the benefits they can bring to their teams and the organization as a whole.  

Other Technical Skills for Finance

Of course, there are other technical skills for finance that are important throughout your career journey. Some other finance technical skills to consider nurturing are: 

Financial forecasting 
General Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) 
Risk analysis 
Investment management 
Regulatory compliance 

Finance Technical Skills: Why It’s Important to Stay Ahead

Continuous learning is essential for financial professionals to stay relevant and effective. Economic, technology and regulatory changes constantly reshape the industry. Adapting to new tools, methodologies and market trends supports problem-solving capabilities, informed decisions and compliance with evolving regulations.  

Learning new finance technical skills also fosters innovation, critical thinking and adaptability, enabling financial professionals to navigate uncertainties, grasp opportunities and contribute meaningfully to their organization’s success. Ultimately, ongoing skill development is crucial for career growth, professional advancement and maintaining a competitive edge in the job market.  

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