86 percent of UK business and finance leaders agree that a finance team with commerciality is critical to a business’s performance.
LONDON, September 21, 2010 – Commercial skills are vital for many finance professionals to be successful in their careers, findings from specialist recruitment firm Robert Half (www.roberthalf.co.uk) have revealed today, with three quarters of UK finance and business leaders (75 percent) agreeing that finance professionals need to have these skills to succeed.
Coming together for Robert Half’s executive round-table series, finance and business professionals from across the UK unanimously agreed that commercial skills were important to the long-term success of their finance teams and business as a whole. However, nearly two thirds of finance and business leaders (60 percent) from across the UK do not feel their finance team currently have the commercial skills needed in the workplace, with 87 percent of respondents stating that the distinct lack of commercial acumen within finance teams could be very or quite damaging to the development of their team and business as a whole.
Phil Sheridan, Managing Director of Robert Half UK commented: “These findings demonstrate the widespread demand for commercial skills in the finance world. However, while the very top jobs in finance require an understanding of commercial demands, technical specialists can still forge a successful career in finance, albeit by a different route. The challenge now is to develop the right mix of technical ability and commercial acumen within the finance team.”
“Commerciality is a hot skill at the moment”, commented Shell UK Oil Products Ltd’s Paolo Garrone, while Amelia Price at First Group plc said, “Finance is at the forefront right now, and it’s through greater commerciality that we’ll stay there”.
Of those questioned, a resounding 83 percent believed that an understanding of how the wider business works was one of the most important commercial skills that finance teams could possess, with nearly three quarters (73 percent) saying that an understanding of business strategy and vision was important.
Tim Lees at QX Ltd said: “Many of the clients I work with are focusing on growth, and they’re looking to the finance function to support that growth to help them win more business and be more competitive. To do this they need a different, more rounded and commercial animal in their finance teams”.
Finance chiefs based in Birmingham felt commerciality was lacking the most, with almost three quarters (73 percent) believing there to be a lack of skills of this type, with Milton Keynes following close behind (72 percent). Nearly two thirds (60 percent) of respondents from London also felt there was a skills gap in this area.
To meet this mounting demand in commerciality, nearly all respondents (92 percent) chose mentoring as the first way they will increase their team’s commercial skills, as well as internal training (67 percent) and hiring people who already have these skills (65 percent).
Claire Bruno from Marks & Spencer Business Services, notes: “Our induction training gives an understanding of all the departments in the centre of the organisation and how people’s jobs impact those other teams. It’s getting people on the journey towards being more outward-looking.”
The report was compiled following a series of executive round-table discussions on the topic of ‘Commercialising the Finance Team’. Over 80 senior-level finance managers from large international organisations and small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) attended the roundtables which were hosted by Robert Half and held in Birmingham, Bristol, Manchester, Milton Keynes and London.
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