Excel skills no longer a ‘must have’ for accountants

CFOs no longer consider Excel as an essential skill and are more concerned about employees’ ability to adapt to new technologies, according to research by Adaptive Insights

The technology provider’s latest quarterly global CFO indicator report shows CFOs are using more automation across various areas of finance, driven in large part by a requirement to be more strategic and provide better analyses. Financial reporting and period-end variance reporting top the list of automated processes today, according to the survey.

Whereas two years ago, 78% of CFOs considered proficiency in Excel as the most important skill for their financial planning and analysis teams, only 5% feel the same today.

Looking ahead, only 7% list better Excel skills as important for new hires.

Jim Johnson, CFO at Adaptive Insights, said: ‘We’ve seen CFOs increasingly take on the role of chief data officers in their organisation. At the same time, CFOs recognise the limitations in the way they manage and analyse data today and know it will only get worse with the proliferation of more systems with siloed data.

‘That’s why Excel skills are not ranked as a top skill any longer. Proficiency in Excel is a given today. The new skills finance leaders need are those that can use technologies to access, analyse, and amplify data for insights to better manage the business.’

The survey indicates that data to insights is the biggest driver for automation, with 40% of CFOs reporting pressure to deliver faster, higher quality insights to executives and operational stakeholders.

Dashboarding/scorecards and planning/forecasting top the list for automation over the next 18 months, yet rank among the lowest areas automated today. The survey found 80% of the financial planning and analysis team’s time is spent on data gathering, consolidation, verification and formatting, representing a significant opportunity to automate.

Nearly all (89%) of respondents believe that AI software will have an impact on the finance function in the next five years, helping CFOs to manage growth, maximise profitability, and gauge risk.

Adaptive Insights CFO Indicator

Report by Pat Sweet


Pat Sweet |Reporter, Accountancy Daily [2010-2021]

Pat Sweet was the former online reporter at Accountancy Daily and contributor to the monthly Accountancy magazine, pub...

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