Ninety-eight per cent of accounting and financial services executives believe soft skills such as communication, interpersonal skills and leadership are as or more important than technical skills in professional practice.
The Hays Recruitment survey of 374 accounting and financial services executives in Australia and New Zealand, including CFOs, financial controllers and general managers, also shows 38 per cent of respondents find professionals with the right soft skills are harder to find than those with the right technical and industry-specific skills.
A further 54 per cent said strategic business partnering skills are a priority, followed by digital and technology skills at 21 per cent, technical accounting experience at 14 per cent and risk management skills at 5 per cent.
The executives believe there is a strong likelihood of part or full automation of core accounting roles in 2018. Ninety per cent of respondents believe accounts payable will be the first cab off the rank, 78 per cent believe payroll will be partly or wholly automated, followed by bookkeeping at 73 per cent.
A further 64 per cent believe data analysis and modelling will be partly or wholly automated, followed by credit control at 53 per cent, audit at 45 per cent and treasury at 30 per cent.