Excel represents a core tool for any finance and accounting professional. Over 30 million people use the program to create and manage spreadsheets. By mastering high-level Excel skills, you can take your finance career to the next level.
After all, finance and accounting success starts with math. That’s the basis of the discipline. However, you need to go beyond simple equations to score the kind of insights that will lead to winning business decisions.
Excel can help you do that. With that in mind, here are five skill areas with the popular spreadsheet program that will help you advance as a finance and accounting professional:
Five Excel Skills To Help Finance and Accounting Career Growth
Want to be a great basketball player? Start with free throws and layups. Want to get the most out of Excel as a finance and accounting professional? Start with the basics.
Before launching into more complex activities, make sure you understand the underlying functions of Excel. Get familiar with the foundational formula-creating abilities and other building-block tools.
Yes, these can seem rudimentary. But getting the most out of the product involves creating a strong basis for more complicated techniques. With a firm grasp of the easy stuff, you can leverage your skills to get the most out of more advanced functions.
Reading Your Data
Let’s face it: a basic spreadsheet is rather bland. A sea of numbers can be hard to read. You might be able to spot key moves and important insights, but will your clients? Or even your bosses?
Excel offers functions that make this kind of communication easier. Conditional formatting can help you tag particular results, including the classic accounting cliche of black print for profits and red print for losses.
You can also take advantage of a tool like Sparklines. This process creates small chart-like images within a cell on your spreadsheet. Basically, it creates a tiny, simple visual cue indicating what the data is showing.
Excel provides an excellent tool for storing and organizing data. However, this information doesn’t provide much business use if you can’t gain any insights from it. Luckily, the product has additional functions meant to aid analysis.
Specifically, you can take advantage of Pivot Table Analysis. This allows you to summarize and reorganize your data quickly, letting you take advantage of new perspectives.
What happens if your company raises prices by 10%? What if COVID forces you to shut down for two weeks? How will your expense structure change if you add another location?
Excel lets answer questions like these. You can use its functions to get a sense of how changes would ripple through your financial structure.
As an example, Look at a feature called “What If Analysis.” This function lets you plug in estimates and see how they impact other connected areas of your business. Using this tool, you can play out the results of different possible scenarios.
Eventually, you’ll have to present your data to other stakeholders. These might be fellow finance and accounting professionals. But often, you’ll have to discuss your findings with people who focus on other specialties – an audience that might be lost if you just send them the raw Excel sheet.
For instance, you might need to talk to investors or customers. Or perhaps you have to have a meeting with the marketing team. Whatever the case, you’ll need to transform raw numbers into something more palatable to a broad audience.
With Excel, you can create visuals rather easily. The charting function lets you create a clear picture of what your data indicates. Or you can instantly create a table that can be included in a report or other document.
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