Survey Reveals that CFOs Place High Value on Soft Skills

MENLO PARK, CA -- Finance executives are trading their balance sheets for business strategy sessions, a new survey suggests. When chief financial officers (CFOs) were asked what qualities, aside from accounting knowledge, contributed most to their attaining their current positions, the top response was overall business acumen (27 percent), followed by strong interpersonal skills (21 percent).

The survey was developed by RHI Management Resources, North America's largest consulting firm providing senior-level accounting and finance professionals on a project basis. It was conducted by an independent research firm and includes responses from 1,400 CFOs from a stratified random sample of companies with more than 20 employees.

CFOs were asked, "Other than accounting and finance knowledge, which one of the following qualities do you believe contributed most to your attaining the role of CFO?" Their responses:

Overall business acumen 27%
Interpersonal skills 21%
Leadership abilities 15%
Decision-making abilities 14%
Employee management skills 12%
Other 7%
Don't know/no response 4%

Cecil Gregg, executive director of RHI Management Resources, recommends that financial professionals develop soft skills early in their careers to help them advance more quickly. "To assume the role of CFO, an individual's 'people' skills and business acumen are as important as financial expertise, especially since he or she often will be responsible for hiring, retaining, motivating and mentoring employees."

Gregg noted that CFOs rely on soft skills every day in their communication with staff, senior management, clients and the investor community. "There are a number of courses future finance executives can take to enhance listening, negotiation and public speaking abilities. Those who possess strong business savvy and interpersonal skills are not only more marketable but are also better positioned to assume leadership roles."

RHI Management Resources has locations in major cities throughout the United States, Canada, Europe and Australia, and offers online job search services at

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