Number Crunching Alone Insufficient for Today's Financial Professionals, Suggests Survey

MENLO PARK, CA, Dec. 18, 2007 -- Accounting is a technical field, but job candidates who also possess strong soft skills now have an edge over those who stick strictly to the numbers, a recent survey suggests. More than half (53 percent) of chief financial officers (CFOs) said they would hire someone with fewer technical skills if the candidate had particularly strong soft skills, such as communication and interpersonal abilities.

The survey was developed by Robert Half Management Resources, the world’s premier provider of senior-level accounting and finance professionals on a project and interim basis. It was conducted by an independent research firm and includes responses from 1,400 CFOs from a stratified random sample of U.S. companies with 20 or more employees.

CFOs were asked, “Would you be willing to hire someone with fewer technical skills if the candidate had stronger soft skills, such as communication and interpersonal abilities?” Their responses:

Yes   53%
No   39%
Don’t know/refused        8%

“Technical expertise is a prerequisite for finance and accounting candidates, but it is only one part of the equation when hiring managers assess prospective employees,” said Paul McDonald, executive director of Robert Half Management Resources. “During the interview, for example, applicants also are evaluated as to how well they articulate their accomplishments and the contributions they hope to make in the role.”

McDonald added that as the strategic importance of the accounting function has grown, so has the visibility of the financial professional. “Practitioners must be able to produce financial reports and perform complex calculations, as well as explain the meaning behind the numbers. This requires a broader skill set, which includes strong written, verbal and interpersonal capabilities,” McDonald said.

Robert Half Management Resources has more than 140 offices throughout North America, South America, Europe and the Asia-Pacific region, and offers online job search services at  

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