Posted by Lynsey Sutherland on 20 May 2014
People who have invested in an education and background in numbers could be at an advantage when it comes to moving into senior management positions, according to data from the Robert Half Salary Guide.
The benefits of a background in finance
The survey asked businesses across Australia and New Zealand whether, in general, they felt a background in finance and accounting improved your chances of being appointed to the executive board.
Almost two-thirds of respondents in Australia, 61 per cent, said they believed it significantly improved your chances. Another 35 per cent of Australian respondents said your chances would be somewhat improved, and only 5 per cent said they didn't think there would be any change to your chances.
For New Zealand, the numbers are also strongly slanted towards a finance background improving your chances, with 39 per cent believing your chances are significantly better and 47 per cent responding that your chances are somewhat better. A slightly-higher-than-Australia 14 per cent believed there would be no improvement to your chances.
Interestingly, small businesses in Australia were most likely to answer that a finance background would significantly improve your prospects, with 90 per cent of respondents choosing this option. In New Zealand, the numbers were more evenly split among small, medium and large companies, with responses of 42, 36 and 38 per cent, respectively.
Can an accounting background make you CEO material?
The survey also asked the same businesses whether they believed a finance background could be instrumental in improving your chances for a CEO role, and again, the answers were largely positive. Sixty-four per cent of businesses in Australia said your chances would be significantly improved, 32 per cent expected some degree of improvement and only 4 per cent said there would be no improvement at all. The New Zealand responses indicated that 74 per cent believed your chances were either significantly or at least somewhat improved, and 26 per cent thought there’d be no improvement to your chances.
For both questions, large businesses in Australia were most likely to hedge their bets, with 50 per cent of respondents suggesting that a background in finance could positively affect your chances. In New Zealand, this number was slightly lower, with 38 per cent of large companies indicating that your finance background would significantly improve your professional chances.
A strong foundation in finance is practically a prerequisite for success as a CEO, as it offers the necessary acumen to develop strategies and comprehend the financial ramifications of business decisions.
However, it’s perfectly possible to gain success as a CEO without a background in finance and accounting, and although this is a desirable trait, there are others, such as good leadership skills and strong decision-making abilities, that may ultimately prove just as crucial to the board.
Making the most of finance skills
The Salary Guide clearly indicates that a background in finance and accounting can be very useful for advancing to the board level or to a CEO position. Find out more about the ways your background and the current hiring trends can affect your chances by digging deeper into the insights available in the Robert Half Salary Guide.