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Research reveals Indian businesses need to address skills gaps in their finance function to compete globally


23 Mar 2016


Euro & Finance

Accountants and finance professionals with complete skills essential to bridging skills gap and meet global business demands

Cost controls, technology developments, strategic planning, regulatory compliance and currency fluctuations are the five main pressures on Indian businesses, finds new research today from ACCA (the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants), and consultancy Meridian West.

Conducted to better understand how the skills required by businesses in India are changing and where the most significant skills gaps exist, the research report, “Complete finance professionals: How Indian businesses are addressing skills gaps in their finance function,” consulted with 20 of the largest national and multinational corporations and accountancy firms in India.

The expert respondents explained that the skills required of Indian finance professionals are not only changing but, significant skills gaps exist and need to be addressed in order to compete effectively in a global marketplace. This was seen as especially relevant given Prime Minister Modi’s Make in India campaign.

Finance leaders said that their teams are expected more than ever to think strategically and take a more global view. They agreed that operating within an international context presents many challenges for the finance function, including compliance with international accounting and reporting standards, liaising with global investors, accessing financing abroad and dealing with complex and evolving regulatory environments.

Sajid Khan, ACCA Head of International Development, said: “In order to compete effectively both domestically and internationally, finance leaders need to ensure their teams are able to drive commercial success and they can do this by attracting, developing and retaining a high-calibre of talent. So getting these five pressure factors under control will give a higher chance of success for the finance department.”

The paper explains the five pressures in more detail:

IFRS Compliance

Increased levels of compliance, new regulatory changes and reporting requirements – particularly the introduction of International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) – are putting pressure on the finance team’s workload.

Currency Fluctuations
Increased volatility of the Indian rupee against the US dollar and other global currencies adds uncertainty for Indian businesses pursuing an export-led growth strategy.

The finance function is now expected to act as a sounding board for other parts of the business, and to offer a view on issues influencing business planning and future strategy.

Cost Control
CFOs are becoming increasingly aware of the need to control rising costs and to work with colleagues in other areas of the business to improve efficiency.

Technology and specialist accounting software are playing a more central role in the day-to-day operation of the finance function as CFOs seek to automate finance processes and cut costs.

Indian CFOs and finance chiefs mentioned the following skills gaps which need to be addressed within their finance teams at various career levels:

Junior Level Skills Gaps
The ability to apply technical knowledge to a commercial context: employers report finance graduates adopting a ‘textbook mind-set’ in their approach to problem-solving, rather than evaluating the broader commercial context of the issues at hand.

Mid-Level Skills Gaps
At mid-level there is a consensus that finance professionals need to focus on developing a broader skill set including communication, teamwork, strategic thinking and proactive problem-solving.

Senior Level Skills Gaps
Business partnering and strategic thinking skills which translates to a deeper understanding of external markets, sector-specific issues and changing customer needs and how these impact the priorities of the finance function now and in the future are the main skills gaps identified at the senior level One respondent to the research said: “When I recruit people to the finance team I look for polished professionals who are able to evaluate the impact of finance regulation and risk, and who can communicate this to a wider group of stakeholders within the business.”

Mr Khan concluded: “ACCA is very aware of the evolving nature of finance professionals as they progress through their careers. With this in mind, ACCA ensures its qualifications comprehensively cover the abilities and behaviours needed to succeed, so that our exams, practical experience requirement and our ethics module are always relevant to what employers need. The ACCA Qualification not only ensures students finish their studies fully equipped to enter the world of work, but professional membership also requires that members continuously update their professional knowledge, personal skills and competencies to remain relevant and in-demand. 

“ACCA qualified members have a strong reputation of bringing a wider range of skills. The knowledge acquired through our qualifications including critical thinking, analytical reasoning, problem-solving and collaborative working is valued by businesses across the globe.”

The full report can be downloaded at:

Lali Sindi, ACCA Newsroom

T: + 44 (0) 207 059 5643
M: +44 (0) 792 169 8085

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Notes to Editors

About ACCA

ACCA (the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) is the global body for professional accountants. It offers business-relevant, first-choice qualifications to people of application, ability and ambition around the world who seek a rewarding career in accountancy, finance and management.

ACCA supports its 178,000 members and 455,000 students in 181 countries, helping them to develop successful careers in accounting and business, with the skills required by employers. ACCA works through a network of 95 offices and centres and more than 7,110 Approved Employers worldwide, who provide high standards of employee learning and development. Through its public interest remit, ACCA promotes appropriate regulation of accounting and conducts relevant research to ensure accountancy continues to grow in reputation and influence.

Founded in 1904, ACCA has consistently held unique core values: opportunity, diversity, innovation, integrity and accountability. It believes that accountants bring value to economies in all stages of development and seek to develop capacity in the profession and encourage the adoption of global standards. ACCA’s core values are aligned to the needs of employers in all sectors and it ensures that through its range of qualifications, it prepares accountants for business. ACCA seeks to open up the profession to people of all backgrounds and remove artificial barriers, innovating its qualifications and delivery to meet the diverse needs of trainee professionals and their employers. More information is here: