Written by Claudia Cabrera Segovia, MS Finance ‘23 –
Over the past few years, we have seen how technological advances are driving unparalleled change. While talking with some peers from different schools within UB, I realized that there is the misconception that both accounting and finance jobs mainly involve “number crunching.” Although some finance jobs are centered on a transactional approach, “Here is what the numbers say,” the finance industry has been moving towards a more analytical and influential approach, “What do the numbers convey for the business and the future industry?”
According to McKinsey research, more than 34% of a financial manager’s time can be automated by adapting current technologies which will allow finance professionals to concentrate on more strategic activities. This change will mean leaders and teams will require a unique set of soft skills to be efficient in the finance world. With this in mind, I present my top four soft skills every finance professional should possess.
“Who do you think is the person who gets the job promotion, the one that comes up with the financial strategy or the one that can explain it?” That was one of the questions my derivatives professor asked during class this semester, and it made me think. Today, communication plays a main role in the finance industry. It is crucial to be able to communicate technical information in a way that engages, informs, and influences the audience. You can build accurate forecasts and projections, but it is necessary for you to be able to describe the outcome; in other words, be capable of telling the story of your reasoning in a way that influences your receptor.
Finance professionals must develop meticulous critical thinking when they are evaluating different scenarios. For example, if you want to evaluate the performance of a stock, you need to know the implication of the economic factors, as well as, the ratios utilized, etc. Financial decisions are crucial for any company since a poorly calculated decision could lead to potential losses. Critical thinking involves being able to use your analytical skills to dissect financial statistics, pull apart raw data, and convey meaningful information.
Presenting your findings
Previously, I mentioned the importance of communicating your ideas to influence your audience. However, it is not only a matter of being able to “tell the story,”But also backing up your findings with clear data visualization tools. As a finance professional, it is important to know how to display information in a clear, sharable, straightforward manner that allows people at different levels within the company to make informed decisions. At UB, I had the chance to enhance my data skills by taking different data courses such as Data Visualization or Predictive Analytics which help me present my data in an easy-to-understand manner.
In any type of job working in teams is inevitable. Throughout my journey at UB I have learned the value of leadership skills, but most importantly getting to know my leadership style. As a servant leader, I like to get to know the abilities of my teammates and encourage them to use their strengths while achieving a common goal. My leadership style not only allows me to build trust and an overall good relationship with my teammates but also gain the respect of my peers, traits that are essential for any finance job position.
Bio – Claudia was born in Arequipa, Peru. In Peru, she attended a German school where she learned not only the language but also the culture. During her junior year of high school, she went to Germany to study for 6 months. After graduation and with the assistance of the Fulbright organization, Claudia was able to come to the US to study. Claudia graduated with honors from the University at Buffalo with a double bachelor’s degree in Economics and Business Administration with concentrations in Finance and Data Analytics. During her undergrad, Claudia learned that soft skills were key to her professional success, therefore she was involved with different organizations within University at Buffalo. Since her freshman year, she worked part-time as an International Admission Office Ambassador. She was also an Academic Assistant for Campus Living. She has assisted different UB management professors as a teaching assistant for classes such as Managerial Economics, Managerial Statistics, and Consulting for Social Impact. Based on her academic background and her passion for finance, she decided to pursue a master of science in Quantitative Finance/ Fintech Track at UB. In her free time, Claudia enjoys traveling to different places to get to know the Buffalo area. She loves visiting new cities inside and outside of the US. She also likes to spend some time swimming.