Volatile markets, a looming presidential election, and ever-changing regulations for the financial industry – these are major signals for financial industry leaders to remain conservative, as they enter the last quarter of 2012. According to CFO Signals: 2nd Quarter CFO Survey, changes in government regulations are slowing down strategic decision-making and forcing leaders to increase efforts on reporting, policy enforcement and managing expectations. While CFOs deal with…well issues on how to deal with THE issues… financial analysts and professionals can take this opportunity to add value through enhanced resource networking, process automation, and waste elimination (make your professors proud).
1) Remove waste: Scale back on unnecessary or low time-to-value activities.
Get rid of the unnecessary activities– less can actually be more! The Japanese ‘Kaizen’ method is famous for its entrenched focus towards continuous improvements. The idea is that if you open the backdoor and close the front, operations can focus on productivity by eliminating waste of mature or unnecessary process elements. So try to find and stay away from low quality outcomes that lead to rework or increased delays and downtime for decision-makers.
This might be a good time all finance professionals to discuss with your manager the necessity of some tasks and see if there might be ways to improve the tasks or get rid of it all together. Stay on top of the times, and think about how your reports can be changed/removed to align with the changing environment. This shows great initiative, and two important skills – time and project management.
2) Automate work tasks: Make processes more efficient.
There are tasks that have to be done. Period. No questions. Look to eliminate any work duplications, re-entering of data, and activities that add no value or clutter up processes with unnecessary complexities. Office productivity and technical tools allow for an ever-wider range of tasks to be automated within today’s work environment. As analysts, you will rely heavily on excel. It’s a good thing you paid attention to your excel training classes, right?
3) Find additional resources: Find value by working with others.
Those numerous hours of class presentations and cans of energy drinks to get you through those late night team meetings to discuss how to present the data to your “client” – well those are going to pay off – that is, if you take the right steps. While years of technical skills that you’ve garnered through your courses help open career opportunities, soft skills are the quickest way to move up that ladder. According to CFOs Turn Focus on Existing Markets as Optimism Tumbles, softer skills such as personal compatibility and developing internal relationships ranked well above technical expertise or industry background. If you can find how to make your bosses life easier, then act on it and manage up. Great insight can often be gained through looking outside the box to find new innovative ways to do business, so take this opportunity to go beyond your personal or team’s daily routines. Build connections that put the client in control can help increase both customization and satisfaction from all parties, and most importantly – your boss. So, if you’re still in college, start paying attention to that sociology class your school has required you to take.
Overall, great teams typically develop into more senior members and begin to move up, sideways or outwards over time. So wake up every morning with the mindset to learn how to do your job and do it well; but get a step ahead by focusing on getting results through cheaper, faster, and more effective methods! Your managers will appreciate this, as it will give them more time to focus on tackling bigger issues that impact their business and the company.
How do you see the external environment impacting your daily work life? Do you have any expectations or assumptions for the remainder of this or the following year?
By Andrew Pyzik, Wall Street Services Reporter
Andrew Pyzik is a Project Management Coordinator at Barclay’s Investment Bank and has worked with startup project ventures to top Fortune 500 leaders on an international stage. Currently teaching Finance and Managerial Accounting and an AARP Money Management Program Volunteer, Andrew is the newest Wall Street Service’s reporter on industry news and must have finance skills for today’s top professionals.