​​​​​​3 way to progress in your finance and accounting career path:

  1. set career goals
  2. build on key skills
  3. working alongside accounting professionals

The finance industry contributes a huge amount to the UK economy, last year this figure totalled £119 billion. The industry also employs 1.1 million people, which is around 3.2% of all UK jobs. In such a lucrative industry it’s no surprise that competition is fierce, particularly in relation to progression into more senior roles. So, how can you stand out from the pack and get yourself noticed?

As seasoned finance or accounting professional, you will be a whizz with numbers and great at understanding complex financial models.

But this technical knowledge can only take you so far and if you want to move up the career ladder then you will need to develop those soft skills that can help you to progress in your accounting career.

As your career progresses there is every chance you will be handed a management role, asked to manage a team or head up a project, which can take you right out of your comfort zone if it’s not something you’ve done before.

Yet, you will be expected to jump straight in and demonstrate the necessary leadership skills which you can put into practice to do the job without any hitches.

Finance and accounting are particularly competitive industries and you need to be able to show your boss you are ready for that next challenge.

But as a busy finance and accounting professional, how do you develop your leadership skills on top of everything else you have to juggle? 

set career goals.

In the financial world, you really do need to take the proverbial bull by the horns to get ahead and actively seek out opportunities to manage a team or test out your project management skills.

What you shouldn’t do is sit back and wait for an opportunity to come to you because there will always be someone else willing to jump in, show more initiative and take your spot. Accountants whose work is of a high standard can quickly progress to positions of responsibility.

If you want that promotion within your company, or have your eye on a more senior position elsewhere, you will need to demonstrate you’re ready to manage others successfully.

You should be seeking out opportunities to do just that whenever and wherever you can. In addition to developing your leadership skills it’s also important to look at accounting qualifications. Many of the most popular certifications such as ACA, ACCA and CIMA are globally-recognised and will take between 3 to 5 years to complete - after which you’ll become a chartered accountant. 

Take a look at your current job description and your skill set to see if an additional qualification would be beneficial, it’s also important to set career goals you want to achieve. Try to find something that sits outside of that role and pushes you to develop.

It could be anything from working on the launch of a new financial product to suggesting and implementing changes to your company’s invoicing processes to make it more efficient.

It might not always feel like it, but the extra work will be helping you to develop and teach you valuable soft skills such as communication, assertiveness and conscientiousness which can all help move you into a leadership position in your workplace.

Want to find out more about how you can sharpen your leadership skills and take on a management role? Watch our 5-minute video guide here

build on key skills.

The world of finance and accounting is a fast-paced one with positions changing daily. Markets go up and down, currencies climb and fall and companies’ financial positions fluctuate. It can be unpredictable and you need to be able to react to change quickly and effectively.

You need to stay calm under pressure, deal with problems rapidly, and find suitable solutions. In doing so, you will start to demonstrate your leadership skills and your ability to manage calmly and confidently in a crisis when others around you are panicking. 

Being highly organised and having excellent time management is a benefit in any role, but being able to demonstrate these abilities will help show your company that you’re proficient and capable of handling the added pressure of a managerial role.

Reacting quickly will also help you to develop your critical thinking which is vital if you want to move into a leadership position. A good leader will be able to foresee problems before they arise and deal with them accordingly. You will also be able to see opportunities which you can use to benefit your company.

working alongside accounting professionals. 

You can have many leadership skills but if your communication is a bit lacking you will probably hit a ceiling in terms of progression. Being able to listen and understand are vital skills for being a good leader.

Not only do you need to listen to understand a problem but you need to listen to what co-workers or your team say and figure out what inspires and motivates them.
Most people understate the importance of listening. You’ll need to be able to process complex and important information while also being able to lend an ear to your team members issues and concerns. If you’re unable to listen effectively it can lead to costly mistakes and misunderstandings.

Once you do discover what drives other professionals in your industry it is much easier to explain your own ideas, visions, goals, and intentions and get your team to carry out your plan.

Make extra effort to communicate with colleagues so nothing is misunderstood, and set up regular meetings with them as well as your line manager to discuss projects you are working on. Ensure the lines of communication are always open.

You should also look at beefing up the areas of communication that you are least confident in. For example, you might be great at writing reports but really shy when it comes to speaking up in groups or in front of an audience.

Concentrate on honing the areas of communication you feel you struggle with to improve your skill-set and make you a more valuable employee.

If you’d like more information on the finance industry or any other sector, take a look at our career advice. From interview tips to detailed job specs, we’ve got it covered!