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CFOs Went From Ranking Excel Skills Most Important to Least Important in 2 Years

Chris Gaetano
Published Date:
Mar 1, 2018
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While just two years ago CFOs thought aptitude with Microsoft Excel was the most important skill for their finance teams, today it ranks as the least, according to Accounting Today. A survey two years ago conducted by management consulting firm Adaptive Insights found that 78 percent of CFOs said that being able to use the popular spreadsheet program was the most important skill for their staff, and the most desirable trait in new hires. A new survey done by the same firm, however, has found that only 7 percent of CFOs think that today. What took the top spot? Being adaptable to new technologies, at 36 percent, followed by competence in KPIs at 23 percent, followed by collaboration or communication skills at 22 percent, followed by competence in modeling at 12 percent.

The results indicate that companies are increasingly looking towards a future where routine finance functions, the type that one might do on an Excel spreadsheet, are mostly automated, leaving the finance staff to do more high-level analysis. At the same time, deploying these technologies is limited by time and resources, and so CFOs are demanding tech-savvy people who can use technologies to access, analyze, and amplify data for insights to better manage the business. Another factor is that Excel proficiency is now more of a standard expectation than a special skill that helps one stand out from the pack. It's more unusual to not have such a proficiency today. 

The survey tracks with previous reporting that finance chiefs are increasingly turning away from Microsoft Excel. Though the program still enjoys wide use, CFOs increasingly say that it's not meeting the needs of today's business, versus cloud-based services that have risen as an alternative. 

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