Boost your net worth: Executives cite ‘competitive nature’ as key to success

UK chief financial officers expect salaries for permanent accounting and finance staff to rise in the first half of 2012, according to a new survey from Robert Half Financial Services.  

  • Financial services executives plan to increase remuneration for finance and accounting staff
  • Tips from Robert Half on how to build your case for a better salary

London, 3 April 2012  –  With a focus on remuneration within the financial services industry, more than two-thirds (68%) of UK chief financial officers expect salaries for permanent accounting and finance staff to rise in the first half of 2012, according to a new survey from Robert Half Financial Services.  

The global research found that the UK’s financial services sector is optimistic on increased salaries for accounting and finance staff, falling behind Switzerland (84%), on par with China (68%) and ahead of Japan (57%) and Singapore (57%). The average UK salary increase within the finance and accounting department is expected to be 5.7%.

In order to secure their share of salary rises on offer, financial services professionals need to understand as much as possible about what their bosses are looking for.  Robert Half’s research reveals that over a third (36%) of financial services executives say a competitive nature is what it takes to succeed.  This is followed by a quarter (25%) who cite leadership skills.

Financial services CFOs were asked, ‘What attribute contributes most to a financial professional's success within the financial services industry?’ Their responses:

Competitive nature 36%
Leadership 25%
Strong technical / analytical skills 13%
Risk taking 13%
Effective communication skills 6%
Futuristic outlook 4%
Strong interpersonal skills 3%

Interestingly, the UK shares its views about the importance of competitive nature with Japan (41%), Switzerland (30%) and Australia (28%). Financial services leaders in China (33%), Germany (33%) and Belgium (28%) cited ‘strong technical/analytical skills’ as the most important attribute whereas ‘leadership’ comes up on top for executives in Luxembourg (30%) and Singapore (24%). Hong Kong was the only country that cited ‘risk taking’ as the main attribute that leads to a financial professional’s success.

Andy Dallas, Associate Director, Robert Half Financial Services said: “Looking at successful finance professionals within the financial services industry and their profile in terms of key attributes, there have been some interesting changes over the years. While strong technical skills remain valuable, they are no longer enough – companies are looking for finance and accounting professionals who demonstrate drive and determinism through a high level of competitiveness and leadership. Future leaders who are able to drive the business forward by making tangible, commercial contributions rather than just balancing the books will see the greatest success throughout their careers.”

So if competitiveness is the key quality for UK financial services companies looking to reward their staff, how should individuals demonstrate their abilities and increase their remuneration potential?  

The following five tips will help professionals prove their net worth:

1. Document achievements. Keep a ‘success folder’ of feedback from internal and external clients. This will allow you to provide your manager quick reference to achievements you’ve had throughout the year which may otherwise be forgotten.

2. Regularly review goals. Keep a copy of your performance appraisal and review on a monthly or bi-monthly basis. Tracking your objectives will not only give you a sense of accomplishment, it will prove to your manager that you are serious about advancement within the company.

3. Volunteer for new projects. Instead of waiting for work to come to you, why not raise your hand for a new project or initiative? Demonstrating your enthusiasm and resourcefulness will not only prove you are a team player; you will be more likely considered for promotions or bonuses as they arise.

4. Openly discuss remuneration. Don’t just wait for your annual performance review. Using tools like the Robert Half Salary Guides can help you benchmark your remuneration against comparable roles, allowing you to have educated conversations with your manager.

5. Keep your skills sharp. The most successful professionals are always looking to improve themselves and will seek out professional development opportunities to increase their net worth. While technical courses will help you stay abreast of changes within the profession, also consider softer skills, such as public speaking, which can raise your visibility in the firm.

Dallas continues, “Finance and accounting professionals need to prove their net worth by demonstrating that they are hungry for new opportunities and willing to compete for success.  That doesn’t mean trampling over your colleagues, but it does mean showing that you have the energy and willingness to win.”