Companies have been forced to change their budgeting approaches after the pandemic because of the increased uncertainties in the business environment. This shift requires participation and ownership from managers and other stakeholders. According to Deloitte’s 2021 Global Planning, Budgeting, and Forecasting Survey, organizations with defined ownership have better budgeting and forecasting functions and face fewer roadblocks while preparing budgets. However, in addition to ownership, accurate budgeting also requires constantly updated knowledge of finance for managers and finance leaders. This blog lists the relevant skills required for accurate budgeting and forecasting.
Why are Finance Skills Important for Managers?
Basic knowledge of financial concepts, especially in budgeting, is a must for a manager, even if they don’t work in the finance function. For example, they can help in the following ways:
One of the primary responsibilities of managers is to make informed decisions for their team and the organization. This includes financial decisions since managers, for example, must oversee the costs for new resources and whether they align with the organization’s financial goals. Furthermore, skills in finance for managers help them assess the financial implications of different decisions and enhance their strategic decision-making.
Budgeting and Resource Allocation
All managers are responsible for developing budgets, allocating resources, and monitoring the financial performance of their respective teams or departments. This is possible only if the manager has the basic know-how of essential financial concepts such as financial statements, cash flow management, and cost analysis.
Managers must ensure that their planning initiatives align with the business strategies and financial goals. Moreover, assessing whether implementing new plans, ideas, or resources is financially feasible is essential. Finance skills further help evaluate potential risks and understand the financial impact of long-term goals. They are thus crucial for managers.
Communication and Collaboration
Another core responsibility for managers involves communicating with stakeholders and other team members, such as finance leaders or investors. Hence, basic finance skills allow managers to share financial information and interpret financial reports effectively. Moreover, it helps them engage in discussions related to budgeting, financial performance, and investment decisions.
Finance skills also help in the performance monitoring and evaluation of teams and departments. They enable managers to set metrics that are crucial in assessing performance and identifying areas for improvement. Additionally, managers can track Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), analyze financial ratios, and determine employee incentives based on the achievement of KPIs.
What are the Key Finance Skills Required for Creating Effective Budgets?
Let us now analyze the top 10 skills related to finance for managers that can help them prepare an accurate budget and, therefore, allocate resources efficiently.
Budgeting requires analyzing financial data; this includes income statements, balance sheets, and cash flow statements. This skill is called financial analysis. Additionally, an understanding of financial ratios, trends, and KPIs is essential to assess the organization’s financial position. As a result, for budgeting, financial analysis helps identify previous patterns and ensures proper interpretation of historical data.
Basic accounting principles, such as debits and credits, accruals, and financial transactions, are essential for finance managers to prepare accurate budgets. Application of these basic accounting principles helps track financial data, which further assists in budgeting.
Strategic Financial Planning
While preparing budgets, managers need to keep in mind the financial goals and objectives of the organization. Hence, strategic financial planning is a key skill of finance for managers. It demands a deep understanding of the organization’s vision, mission, and long-term plans. Furthermore, strategic financial planning helps develop budgets that align with the organization’s strategic goals.
Qualitative Risk Analysis
A contingency fund is a key component of budgeting to protect against the financial risks faced by the organization. Therefore, risk analysis is a key skill in finance for managers. Qualitative analysis involves assessing risks based on subjective criteria and expert judgment. It is also used to identify potential risks that may impact budget assumptions, such as market conditions or regulatory environment changes.
Quantitative Risk Analysis
Like qualitative risk, quantitative risk analysis is essential for accurate budgeting and forecasting. It is used for measuring quantifiable risks such as potential financial losses. Quantitative analysis uses statistical and mathematical techniques to assess risks based on historical data and probabilities.
This is a relevant budgeting skill in finance for managers as it compares actual financial results with budgeted figures. It aims to analyze and interpret the differences between planned and actual outcomes. Therefore, financial variance skills help identify deviations, find their reasons, and make necessary adjustments to future budgets.
It refers to analyzing and controlling costs throughout the budgeting process. Cost management helps identify cost drivers, evaluate cost-saving opportunities, and implement strategies to optimize resource allocation. Simply put, this is one of the most essential skills in finance for managers.
Data Analysis and Interpretation
Finance is primarily about data and numbers but also requires logical reasoning and interpretation. Hence, data analysis and interpretation skills are essential for processing and making sense of large volumes of financial data. Furthermore, this skill requires knowledge of tools and techniques to organize, analyze, and draw insights from financial information. Ultimately, it helps determine patterns and errors that support making assumptions during budgeting.
Knowledge of Financial Software
In addition to core financial skills, knowledge of various software related to finance for managers is also crucial. Tools such as spreadsheet software or dedicated budgeting software provide various functionalities for organizing and manipulating financial data and performing calculations. Moreover, these tools also aid in the creation of budget templates. Therefore, knowledge of financial software helps in efficiently managing budget-related tasks.
This advanced skill in finance for managers means creating mathematical representations (models) of real-world financial situations. In the context of budgeting, financial modeling skills simulate real-life financial scenarios. It helps determine future financial outcomes and assess the impact of various factors on the budget. Therefore, it helps make informed assumptions and creates more accurate and robust budgets.
How Can Managers Ensure Accuracy in Budgeting and Financial Forecasting?
Financial budgeting and forecasting require the interpretation of historical data and performing variance. However, one of the most essential requirements for achieving accuracy in budgeting is making correct assumptions. Here are a few tips on how to get it right:
Learn Principal Business Factors That Facilitate Changes
Every business has unique factors or key drivers, such as cash or profits, that determine its growth or facilitate significant change. Identifying and considering those factors in the budget planning framework is pertinent. These factors help analyze and mitigate potential risks.
Use Granular Data
When financial data is broken down into finer details, it is termed granular data. For example, checking all single transactions under the heading of marketing expenses. It gives a clear and accurate view of all financial transactions in the organization. This data can be used to prepare controlled budgets.
Budget planning is often speculative due to rapid changes in the business environment. Therefore, managers need to identify challenges or barriers in budget planning for a more accurate budget. For example, a lack of team communication can lead to incorrect information about company sales, data accuracy, and poor management. These are some of the challenges in finance for managers. Hence, identifying such barriers and planning ways to overcome them can help managers prepare more accurate budgets.
How Can Emeritus Courses Help Improve Finance Skills?
Many professionals believe that skills related to finance for managers are restricted to budgeting, forecasting, or accounting. However, financial planning requires various other skills. According to LinkedIn’s 2023 Workplace Learning Report, the top skills in the financial domain include management, analytical, communication, leadership, teamwork, research, and customer skills. So what are you waiting for? Emeritus’ online finance courses can help you acquire technical and hard skills related to finance for managers and give you an in-depth understanding of the latest financial trends.
By Sneha Chugh
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