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The importance of data in finance

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Data is used everywhere you go. It’s difficult to comprehend how important gaining data skills and capabilities are in the workplace and general life, due to the rapid pace that data and technology are advancing.

If you work in a finance role, you may already believe that you are interpreting data. However, it’s very likely that, without further training, your data literacy capabilities are limited. This limited knowledge could be hindering your job or organisation’s performance, without you even realising it.

Recently, we joined a collaborative webinar with the ICAEW to showcase the importance of data. We were joined by experts in the field, Ian Pay (ICAEW) and Jim Hinchliffe (Kaplan UK) who provided key insights into the working world of data analytics.

Event panellists

Ian Pay

Ian joined the ICAEW as Head of Data Analytics and Tech in March 2022, looking at the role that analytics and technology solutions play in the profession while supporting the ICAEW’s members in their exploration and development of knowledge around technology.

Prior to this, Ian worked at PwC in Data Analytics for over ten years, specialising in External Audit and Data Acquisition and developing robust data transformation processes. He is passionate about digital upskilling and has previously trained as a secondary school teacher.

Jim Hinchliffe

Over the past twenty years, Jim has held various senior positions at Kaplan, including Head of Live Online and Head of Centre. Since 2017, Jim has been part of the Commercial Management team, a Strategic Account Director, and a member of the Kaplan Professional Senior Leadership Team.

As Commercial Manager, Jim takes a keen interest in identifying opportunities within the accountancy market, notably the demand for digital skills from employers.

Speech marks

“Without data, you’re just another person with an opinion.”

Key topics

The importance of data

Data is central to everything. There are very few aspects of a business where data isn’t needed.

Ian touches upon a few examples of how data is used within specific departments of a business, to showcase how important the use of data is. He explains how upskilling the workforce with data skills has proven to help with testing and accuracy, identifying trends, and measuring successes and failures of projects, just to name a few.

The need for data skills

Why do we need data skills? Ian answers this by showing the importance of investing in data, through the use of data itself.

Facts and figures identify how data is fundamentally changing businesses and the way in which people now work. With over 80% of CEOs investing in data, it is shown to improve efficiency and decision-making in the workplace, while data-driven organisations are suggested to be 162% more likely to improve their revenue goals.

However, developing your data skills doesn’t mean that you have to be an expert. Yet, the softer skills surrounding data are just as important, which are to be able to understand, interpret and communicate data.

Working with data as a finance professional

Ian discusses how to make the most out of your data, particularly in the accounting and finance industry. Many of those working in finance may regularly use data within their job role. In fact, it would be quite worrying if you’re not already using this in some way.

However, teams may spend the majority of their time gathering and analysing data, but with limited capabilities. This means that there is little time dedicated to actually interpreting and acting on the data that you’re gathering. So, although you may think that you are data literate, there may be a lot more training and development that can be done.

Ian addresses the changing landscape of finance roles. Adding an interesting perspective on this landscape, Ian uses the World Economic Forum report, to explore roles that are increasing and decreasing in demand. Roles that are paired with the use and knowledge of data were found to increase significantly.

In a nutshell, the statistics that Ian provides give evidence that the finance sector is still a great and thriving area to work in, as the skills that you hold are a key indicator of the demand for certain jobs. However, the development of data analytics skills is essential to stay relevant in the ever-changing world of technology.

The ICAEW Data Analytics certification

Jim highlights how you can upskill your workplace, or yourself, specifically with two different pathways. Although the pathways are tailored towards a finance perspective, the certifications are broad enough to have relevance across all industries.

During the webinar, Jim and Ian talk more in-depth about what to expect from each pathway, the course and what you can expect.

Pathway 1: Analyst

This is for anyone wanting to develop their data analytic skills. Through this, you’ll develop your practical knowledge of the programming language, Python, where the skills and capabilities developed are extremely transferable, yet Python is a free platform that can still be used after your training.

Jim mentions that through our research, we found that there are very few detailed training courses that can be applied to finance professionals specifically. Therefore, the analyst pathway provides 60 hours worth of comprehensive content for those who want to develop their skills, and apply them with the highest level of confidence.


Pathway 2: Management

The management pathway is shorter than the analyst, as it’s targeted towards senior management teams within an organisation. Therefore, more technical skills are not usually necessary in this case.

Jim and Ian highlight how the management pathway will guide managers in understanding how to set objectives, understand the process of data in the business, and manage a team of technically skilled analysts.

Demo of the certificate courses

Jim and Ian demonstrate the course platform, providing examples of real-life case studies, the design of the course, and what this will look like. He also highlights the reasons why you would need Python in your organisation when you already have Excel, with resources that are provided on the course that explains the differences and how to bridge this knowledge gap.

Watch the full webinar

Watch the full webinar with Ian and Jim now and learn all about the importance of Data Analytics and the necessity of upskilling to remain future-proof in your workplace.

Ready to upskill?

The two pathways mentioned in the webinar are available on our website. You can find more information about the Analyst Pathway, and the Management Pathway to make an informed decision on which route is best for you.

Use the discount code: DA2022 for a 20% discount on all ICAEW Data Analytics Certificate Programmes on Kaplan UK and Kaplan Learning until 28 April 2023.

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