Finance Skills Required for Your Finance Career Success

Our capacity to adapt and pick up new finance skills is crucial for career development and enhancing corporate outcomes, as the pandemic has taught us. For you and your team to succeed in the shifting market dynamics, it is essential to update and develop skills. How can you improve your career as a Finance professional?

Here are the skills you need to develop to accelerate your career in Finance.

Analytical Finance Skills

Learn how to use the right analysis methods, such as:

  • Price Volume Mix
  • Sensitivity analysis
  • Variance analysis
  • Horizontal analysis
  • Vertical analysis

Almost every day, finance professionals must deal with difficult business scenarios. In other words, from obtaining resources for financial research to keeping an eye on finances, finance managers and executives need to be able to understand and evaluate a situation. In short, they should be able to think critically and make decisions under pressure using the methods.

Basic Accounting Skills

First, to understand the impact of business events on financials, you need a basic understanding of accounting and learn how the three statements (P&L, Balance Sheet and Cash Flow) work together. Second, you need it because employers search for people who have a fundamental knowledge of accounting, including how to create and manage cash flow statements, prepare balance sheets, and do other accounting-related tasks. Therefore, in order to have a competitive advantage over rivals, you should be well-versed in core accounting concepts, procedures, and tools.

Soft Skills

Develop the following soft skills to deliver value to your organization:

  • Communication (written and verbal)
  • Interpersonal
  • Influencing
  • Put yourself in other people’s shoes

Explaining complicated financial ideas in simple terms orally and in writing becomes crucial since the finance team now must work collaboratively with several other teams. Additionally, you should be able to converse with industry experts and answer inquiries from a wide range of people regarding the performance and objectives of the organization.

The Bottom Line – Importance of Finance Skills

The skills you posses in finance will play huge role in shaping your career. Therefore, if you are willing to develop your analysis skills, I am here to help you.

Finally, I have a program to help finance professionals upskill themselves and accelerate their career. To get access to that program you can take my course.

Businesses utilize standard costing and variances as a method to monitor their expenses. In other words, it entails establishing a “standard” cost for each good or service and measuring actual costs to these benchmarks. Additionally, you can track direct and indirect expenses using standard costing.

On the other hand, variance analysis is a method for contrasting actual costs with standard costs. This comparison can assist managers in finding areas where costs are greater than anticipated and, if necessary, take corrective measures.

To have a career in Finance, you need to know how to calculate standard costing and variances.

Below is an extract of the lesson on standard costing included in my course.

Defining Standard Costing and Variances

With the standard cost method, you value your product using expected costs rather than actual costs. This simplifies the accounting of producing units.
The Standard cost of a finished product is composed of the following:

  • Direct material
  • Direct labor
  • Manufacturing overhead

Direct material = Material standard price x standard material quantity for one product
Direct labor = Labor standard price (hourly rate) x standard number of hours used for one product
Manufacturing overhead = Overhead (indirect costs of manufacturing) allocated to one material using an allocation key.


For each of the three components listed above, there are 2 sources of variance: the usage and the price.
For example:

  • Direct material will have a usage variance: how many quantities were used vs the standard quantity
  • Direct Material will also have a material price variance: actual price vs standard price multiplied by actual quantity

Also, here is an example, and you can find this template in the course.

A table of standard costing and variance calculations.

Other Types of Cost Accounting

The Bottom Line – Standard Costing and Variances

In every manufacturing or production process, standard cost variances are a necessary component. Therefore, to find out what is causing these variations and how to fix them, variance analysis is utilized.

Furthermore, an instrument for managing these variances is standard costing. As a result, they are very important to learn if you are pursuing a career as a finance professional.

In my online course I have 77 other chapters where you can learn from me the concepts to accelerate your career in finance.

Adapting to the evolving goals of your finance sector might be the difference between creating a decent career and a truly outstanding one. Therefore, how can you speed up your career in finance?

My Personal Experience

Usually, the questions finance people ask me are:

  • How can I accelerate my career in Finance?
  • What should I do to be promoted?
  • Which skills should I learn to get a job in Finance?

Therefore, in this guide, I am answering these questions.

Above all, my 14+ years of experience helped me identify what you need to learn to be more valuable and have a better career in finance.  You need certain skills, and for each of them, I explain why you should learn them but, most importantly, what to learn.

Important Skills to Accelerate Your Finance Career

Here are the main ten skills you need to learn to accelerate your career in Finance:

Technical Skills

  • Financial Analysis
  • Budgeting & Forecasting
  • Cost Accounting
  • Accounting Principles

Soft Skills


  • Power BI
  • Power Query
  • QuickBooks

How Can You Learn Them?

I am giving you my 10-step plan I use to learn a new skill.
First, pick up one of the skills listed. Then, for the next two weeks, follow these steps:

  1. Each day, pick one topic from the “What to learn” page.
  2. After that, Google it.
  3. Then, look for articles and blog posts on this topic
  4. Furthermore, look for experts on the topic and follow them on LinkedIn.
  5. In addition, find a YouTube video or podcast on this topic (the best is to find one with an expert you identified.
  6. Above all, document everything you learn and the links to the articles, podcasts, and YouTube videos you found in a document.
  7. Afterward, explain what you have learned to a colleague or a friend. Teaching somebody else is the best way to learn.
  8. Additionally, share your document with your best links with somebody else or even here on LinkedIn!
  9. Most importantly, apply what you learned in your work environment.
  10. Finally, by trying to apply what you learned, you will identify some holes in your knowledge.

Moreover, repeat the steps from 2 to 9 to solve these weaknesses. Additionally, do that every month, and in three months, you will have more impact at work. And if you have more impact, it will help your career goals!

The Bottom Line – Advancing in Your Finance Career is Possible

The possibilities available to finance professionals who desire to advance in their careers are many. You have the option of working as an independent financial consultant or as a top executive in various roles. But establishing a career demands a clear head and a well-thought-out strategy.

In order to learn more strategies and skills in finance, you can take my course to accelerate your career in finance faster.

How can you become a top performer in finance, and do you want to be noticed among the crowd? Most importantly, you will need to possess certain qualities and characteristics that will help you advance in your career.

Traits of A Top Performer in Finance

Here are the qualities that set-top achievers in finance apart from the rest.

Top Performer in Finance Analyzes Sales, Margin, Overhead, and Headcount

Learn to analyze these indicators to become a top performer in finance. In addition you will be able to bring value to your company so the management can count on you to get insights.

Master The Budget Process

Mastering this process will place you at the center of the strategic planning decisions and bring you closer to management and the head of other functions.

Become A Great Finance Business Partner

It will allow you to navigate the organization easily and move forward quickly. Also, it will bring you a step closer to becoming a top financial performer.

Top Performer in Finance Needs to Optimize Reporting

It will make you more efficient at creating reports and allow you more time for added-value tasks.

Use Storytelling to be A Top Performer in Finance

Above all, you need to master your communication since the world rewards the people who are best at communicating ideas but not those with the best ideas. Moreover, you can not become a top performer in finance if you don’t possess the required communication skills.

Feedback from The Finance Course

Here are what students commented about the course.

Sahil Kamani:

“Yes, I would recommend the course. Nicolas’s course is tailor-made for professionals wanting to take the next step in their careers. His 1-on-1 consultation was also a great addition to the course. Nicolas was a good listener and gave very specific ideas about some of the roadblocks I faced.”

Burak Dagkus:

“Yes, I would recommend the course because the content was clear and detailed designed.”

Emilia Cucu:

“The course is well structured, and it covers most of the relevant topics. For deeper questions, there are lots of useful links provided.”

Enid Silva:

“I am very happy with the course. I’m very much into the PVM, so I have dug a lot into that and ran some tests with my company information, and those are coming very, very well. I have gone into the others, and they are great as well.”

Judit Kovi:

“Yes, I would recommend the course. It is a very practical and comprehensive material to get insight into FP&A processes. ”

James Fields:

“I am really dedicated to doing what I can to advance my career now so that later on, I can enjoy more overall success. I feel like this course can potentially help me gain stronger skills in some of my currently weaker areas within FP&A.”

The Bottom Line – Become A Top Performer in Finance

It took me 14 years to learn these skills. But, if you want a shortcut and take advantage of my experience, I can help you.

I have created an online video course where I teach these five concepts and help you become a high performer.

You can click here to get instant access to the course.

Are you looking for the best way to present some data? How can we decide which data visualization method to use when there are so many options?

To choose which data relationship is most crucial to your story, there are certain categories. Then, take a look at the many types of charts inside each category to get a sense of what could work best.

This list is a helpful place to start when creating informative and relevant data visualization, but it is neither exhaustive nor a magic bullet.

In this guide, the visualizations are arranged by type of data relationship, and then you have a short explanation to guide you in choosing the most appropriate chart.

Categories for Data Visualization

Here are the categories for data visualization.

#1: Deviation

Emphasize deviations (plus/minus) from a constant reference point. The reference point is usually zero, although it can also represent a goal or an average over a long period of time. Also, it is useful for expressing emotion (positive, neutral, or negative).

Example: Trade surplus/deficit, climate change

#2: Correlation Data Visualization

Demonstrates the connection between two or more variables. Be aware that unless you tell them differently, most readers will assume that the connections you present are causative, meaning that one causes the other.

Example: Unemployment and inflation, income and life expectancy

#3: Ranking

Use whenever the order of an item in a list outweighs its relative or absolute value. Therefore, don’t be scared to draw attention to the important details.

Example: Richness, league tables, and outcomes of elections

#4: Distribution

Displays the values in a dataset together with their frequency. In other words, a distribution’s shape (or “skew”) might serve as a memorable approach to drawing attention to the data’s lack of equality or homogeneity.

Example: Population (age/sex) and income distribution

#5: Change Over Time

Puts a focus on evolving trends. These can range from brief (daily) motions to lengthy sequences that span decades or centuries: In order to provide the reader with appropriate background, it is crucial to choose the appropriate time period.

Example: Changes in share prices and economic time series

#6: Part-To Whole Data Visualization

Demonstrates the division of a single entity into its constituent parts. Therefore, consider a magnitude-type chart for data visualization if the reader is just interested in the components’ sizes.

Example: Fiscal budgets, corporate structures, and election results

#7: Magnitude

Display size disparities. These may be related (merely having a vision larger/bigger) or imperative (must see fine differences). Typically, these display a “counted” number (for instance,
barrels, money or individuals) as opposed to a computed percentage or rate.

Example: Market capitalization and commodity production

#8: Spatial Data Visualization

Used for data visualization only when exact geographic locations or data patterns exist that are more significant than everything else in the reader’s eyes.

Example: Locator maps, population density, locations of natural resources, the chance and effect of natural disasters, catchment regions

#9: Flow

Demonstrates to the reader the amounts or rates of change between two or more states or circumstances. These might be physical sites or logical sequences.

Example: Financial flow, commerce, migrant flow, legal disputes, information flow, and connection graphs

Here is an illustration of the data visualization categories.

Conclusion – Data Visualization Is a Must for Finance

Using visual information, data visualization offers a rapid and efficient method for disseminating information across cultures. Additionally, the practice can assist businesses in determining the variables that influence client behavior and identify areas that require improvement or additional attention. Furthermore, it makes data more memorable for stakeholders, figures out the best times and locations to sell particular products, and forecasts sales volumes.

If you want to receive more finance tips like this, feel free to sign up for my newsletter. If you subscribe, every two weeks, you will receive an email from where I share best practices, career advice, templates, and insights for Finance Professionals.

What do you think of your public speaking skill?

Imagine working 6 months with your team on a project. After 6 months, today is the big day! It’s the day of your presentation to the Board. You have your deck of slides ready, and you worked until 11 PM the day before (you wanted to make sure that your slides have the best design and that you have excellent wording).

Therefore, now it’s your time to shine, and you have twenty minutes to convince the board to invest in your project. Furthermore, you go through the slides (of which you are really proud ), but after a couple of minutes, you feel the interest and the attention of the room going down.

Additionally, you find yourself repeating several times the same information because your audience looks puzzled.

What is maybe due to your poor public speaking skill?

What Was Wrong?

Now you start thinking, what is wrong? Why are they not excited by your project? Why don’t they see how hard you and your team worked over the last six months? Ultimately, the board’s decision comes: “We are sorry, but this is not a priority, so we can not approve your project.” Actually, you are not even surprised based on the way your audience acted over the last twenty minutes.

This has to be frustrating, right?

And why? This is not because of your work ethic or the quality of your work.

So why? The reason is simple but overlooked by many of us. your speech and yourself were not convincing enough. You underestimated the importance of public speaking skills to win the positive opinion of your board.

Why I Wanted to Improve My Public Speaking Skills

I have experienced this on different occasions. In many situations, a finance professional may not articulate well the story behind the figures, no matter how fancy a spreadsheet looks.

This is why I made it one of my priorities to change that. And the change started last week with the help of Ursula Witthöft. She coached me for one day to improve my public speaking skills. It was the best training I have had in more than five years.

This is the reason why I strongly advise you to take a course on public speaking. I wish I had done it before. But don’t take my advice from me; just see what Warren Buffet has to say:

“If you can’t communicate and talk to other people and get across your ideas, you’re giving up your potential.”

Warren Buffett

Warren Buffett told business students that public speaking is the most valuable skill they can learn.

Also, it’s one of the most underrated skills for professionals. Moreover, it’s rarely taught, neither in the professional world nor at school. But it brings you so much value!

Conclusion – 10 Things I Learned About Public Speaking During My Training

To close this topic, I wanted to share with you ten things I learned about public speaking during my training:

  1. Public speaking can be learned by everyone.
  2. The way you look, stand, act, and speak is responsible for more than 90% of how your audience perceives your message. Your content counts for less than 10%!
  3. Work on your handshake: put all the chances on your side to make that first good impression.
  4. Work on your posture, your eye contact, and the way you walk to win the room (check online for exercise to improve posture)
  5. Activate your body to have a clear mind and all your body aligned (Ursula has a really good exercise called “The Nut” (Die Nuss in German) to activate the core body before a presentation)
  6. Work on your articulation and your tone (your speaking muscles need a bit of stretching and practice, but you see really quickly an improvement
  7. To speak louder, visualize yourself as if you were talking to somebody at the end of the room.
  8. Think about where you place your hands and how you stand (hands should be visible and open, and you should be on your two feet).
  9. Imagine the audience being a group of friends and that you are going to tell them a story. You should speak in a natural way.
  10. Get excited about your topic: if you are not excited, who is going to create excitement in your audience?

To sum up, invest time to prepare your performance, not just your slides. As a result, don’t only rely only on your PowerPoint!

If you want to receive more finance tips like this, feel free to sign up for my newsletter. If you subscribe, every two weeks, you will receive an email from where I share best practices, career advice, templates, and insights for Finance Professionals.


AI will have an influence on every employee, in every sector of the economy, and in every nation. There are serious worries that AI may completely eliminate jobs.

The unpleasant realities of workforce automation have been widely reported on, especially as it relates to particular job categories and populations. For instance, the Brookings Institution concluded that 25% of all US employment is at risk from automation, with a focus on low-wage workers in roles where duties are routine in character.

According to a different survey, 58% of the positions with the highest risk of automation are held by women.

What Changes Will AI Cause in The Future?

However, here are the coin’s two sides. Humans will lose some professions to robots and AI, but they will also gain new ones as a result. Since 2000, 1.7 million manufacturing jobs have been gradually eliminated thanks to robots and automation technologies.

On the other hand, it is anticipated that by 2025, AI will generate 97 million new employment.

Two-thirds of workers say they trust orders from a robot more than ones from their manager, and half have previously asked counsel from a robot rather than their manager.

At American Express, AI now handles judgments such as determining which product offer is most pertinent to various consumer categories, obviating the need for management and staff to debate these responsibilities.

The role of a manager won’t be replaced by AI; rather, it will be supplemented. In the future workplace, people and robots will collaborate to do tasks more quickly and effectively than ever before.

Artificial intelligence is changing our jobs, and either you adapt, or you get lost!

Here is a table extracted from an article by the World Economic Forum.

The Bottom Line – Artificial Intelligence Will Bring Opportunities

Success in the future of AI will depend on a systematic approach to workflow automation, process optimization, and personnel reskilling. Also, companies will be in a strong position to expand, advance, scale, and flourish as a consequence. It’s a good idea to get in and learn everything you can about using AI if you’re tech-savvy.

If your expertise is in a different sector, it’s crucial to recognize that AI will have a significant influence on your career and that you should strive to master the foundations of how it operates in many industries.

If you want to learn more about finance and the skills you need, you can take my course.

You can read the full article on this topic here.

Working in finance requires a unique set of skills and qualities. These include strong analytical and problem-solving abilities, the ability to think strategically and make sound business decisions, and excellent communication and interpersonal skills. Additionally, a professional in finance need to be detail-oriented and highly organized.

Furthermore, they need to have the ability to work well under pressure and handle complex information. In order to succeed in this field, individuals must also be self-motivated and willing to continuously learn and adapt to new technologies and industry trends.

A few weeks ago, I participated in a Q&A session with students from my business school about jobs in Finance. One of the most asked questions was about the qualities you need to have to be a good finance professional. In this article, I will share my view on the crucial qualities you need to have as a finance professional.

Skills and Qualities of A Professional in Finance

Here are the skills and qualities you require to become a top-notch Finance professional.

Accounting Knowledge

You need to know how to read financial statements and how to translate the business activity into the general ledger of a company. In addition, it should be mandatory for every individual wanting to have a career in finance. Furthermore, this is even true for people that want to go in the direction of financial planning and controlling. For example, one needs to understand how the capitalization of assets like WIP or a change in a provision can have a direct impact on the P&L.

Business Acumen

Finance is present in many different departments and through different types of operations. Therefore, being able to understand these transactions and their financial treatment is what your business partners expect from you. For example, you need to be able to evaluate how delays in deliveries to a client can affect your revenues.

Analytical Skills for A Professional in Finance

The amount of data and information is constantly increasing. As a finance professional, this means that you need a better understanding of the bigger picture and identify what this information means for your organization. In other words, the better you can digest it and the faster you can communicate actionable knowledge to your peers and partners, the more valuable you are to your company.

Business Partnering

Finance has a support function in a company. What does it mean for you? You should see yourself as a service provider and your business partners from other departments as your (internal) clients. Therefore, ask for feedback and put yourself in your business partner’s shoes to optimize how you provide the best service you can.

IT and Data Literacy

Transformation is everywhere, and digitalization plays a significant role. Nowadays, mastering Excel and knowing how to use an ERP is the bare minimum. However, being able to program RPA (robotic process automation) software or create an automated report from a BI tool will give you much more opportunities and will help you to secure a position in innovative finance teams.

Conclusion – Build Your Knowledge to Become A Professional in Finance

In conclusion, finance professionals need to possess a combination of hard and soft skills. This is the key to success in this dynamic and ever-changing field.

Additionally, finance professionals must be detail-oriented, organized, and willing to continuously learn and adapt to new technologies and industry trends in order to stay ahead of the competition and drive business success.

If you want to learn more skills and finance insights, you can take my course.