Almost two thirds of financial executives (60%) believe strong leadership skills are the most important attribute for success in the profession, according to a new survey by Robert Half UK.
Strong technical skills (47%) and effective communication (33%) are also crucial to achieving success for accounting and finance professionals.
A “futuristic outlook”, strong interpersonal skills and risk taking were other attributes suggested.
The recruitment specialist also found the most common challenges when working with other departments are managing stress arising from crisis situations (42%) and prioritising conflicting deadlines (26%).
Learning to interact with different personalities and conveying financial information in non-financial terms were also challenges mentioned by the 200 financial executives surveyed.
Soft skills are believed to be worth £88bn to the UK economy, with this figure expected to rise to £109bn within the next five years.
Phil Sheridan, managing director of Robert Half, said the findings reflect the fact that accounting and finance no longer operates as a silo.
“[It] has affirmed its position as a strategic partner to the business, encompassing more than the ability to crunch numbers.”
Sheridan added, “As we enter what is most commonly the busiest period for accounting and finance professionals with businesses preparing budgets for next year and preparations underway for year-end reporting, businesses looking to hire additional headcount should seek out candidates who display key leadership qualities and exceptional communication skills alongside strong technical ability to deliver added value.”
A similar research from Randstad Financial & Professional published in March found 76% of accountancy jobs advertised today demand candidates who can demonstrate strong soft skills.