Finance professionals around the world are reassessing their skills in response to the pandemic. With a renewed emphasis on upskilling, now is the time to enroll.

3 mins read

In 2021, it’s clear that one of the most important trends in finance will be upskilling.

This is nothing new, as shown in a survey conducted by the Institute of Management Accountants (IMA) where 78% of finance professionals already had a significant interest in upskilling prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. But that interest has skyrocketed.

The pandemic and its effects have made the acquisition of new skills imperative. Globally, 68% of survey respondents said that upskilling appealed more to them even more in light of the current situation, and 75% have been actively working to improve their professional skills during the pandemic. These statistics amount to one fact: competition in finance is only getting tougher, and the most effective way of getting ahead of the game is enrolling in a finance master’s.

Out with the old, in with the new

In a post-COVID-19 environment, many have become seriously concerned about the relevancy and applicability of their skills in the future finance job market. According to the IMA survey, 12% of respondents genuinely believed that their skills would no longer be relevant, while another 10% were unsure.

This belief becomes more prevalent among young people, who are reliant on their “hard” technical skills and haven’t yet been able to develop the soft skills necessary for success. There is a consensus that upskilling is the answer to these concerns, as 80% of respondents across all regions agree that it’s helpful for career advancement.

The IMA survey also highlighted an array of financial skills that over 80% of respondents were planning to improve or were working on already, including cost management, working capital management and cash forecasting, among others. These skills form key components of many finance masters’ degree programs, which can streamline the process of upskilling through the in-depth coverage of multiple different skills, as well as a comprehensive overview of financial knowledge.

Reputable finance masters’ programs also follow the latest trends in developments in finance, and therefore fulfill some of financial professionals’ most current and pressing needs. Forbes predicts that in the post-COVID economy, the primary role of financial services will pivot more heavily from value stewardship towards value creation. This is already a key concept in investment banking, and its success relies on communication, leadership and decision making. To develop strategic capital structures and strong financial relationships, upskilling is a crucial step that offers a route straight to the top of corporate finance.

Going digital

Almost universally, financial experts and commentators agree that the impact of the pandemic has sped up digital transformation in all sectors of the field. With increased remote working everywhere, financial institutions are striving to maximize process automation, which, as people are usually the biggest cost of a company, has an unavoidable effect on how useful skills are. The economic consequences of the pandemic will be felt for years to come, and this has placed efficiency at the forefront of companies’ planning and operations. In the IMA survey, 58% of respondents believed that the pandemic would be just as disruptive as digital transformation when it comes to job skills, and the joint impact of both trends make upskilling essential to staying competitive in 2021 and beyond.

Upskilling in finance

Professional institutions like the IMA emphasize the need for continued learning, especially in terms of new trends in private equity, corporate finance and the workings of modern markets. While AI-related technologies such as data analytics and blockchain are quickly growing in importance, learning and practical training in these areas is best undertaken as part of a wider financial framework that understands their context and impact. This universal and adaptable knowledge is what sets leading financial professionals apart in any field, from investment banking to global markets.

By dedicating just one year to their upskilling journey, students can obtain the necessary skills to make a real improvement to their professional lives and careers. Beyond gaining knowledge and opening doors to top financial institutions across the globe, adopting a continuous learning mindset is the best way to adapt to global financial developments.

In today’s fast-paced context, a finance master’s is the best way to remain on top. To find out more, have a look at our Master in Finance and Global Master in Finance programs—and update your sector skill set for maximum impact.