As a Labour Relations Advisor with ACFO for ten years, I have had a first-hand look at the importance of the work done by the FI Community and the consistently high standard to which you do that work. There is no one better qualified to take on financial executive and managerial positions than FIs and we here at ACFO want to do whatever we can to ensure that FIs have the best possible shot at these professional opportunities.

In my conversation with FIs concerning the challenges they face with regard to promotional opportunities, one issue that has consistently arisen is the prevailing impression that while FIs have the experience and technical skills and training required for these positions, they have not had the opportunity, either formally or informally, to develop the necessary soft skills.

ACFO is working to address this issue along several tracks. We are engaging CFOs in conversations about professional development throughout departments. We included soft skills training in our PD Framework whitepaper, which has been distributed at the departmental level and to the Office of the Comptroller General. Finally, we are advocating for the ability to negotiate professional development at the bargaining table.

But I would also encourage you individually to take a proactive approach to soft skills development. If an upper management position is in your career plan, it is important to anticipate what is expected in that role and work toward developing those skills now. Many departments do not see soft skills as an obvious choice for FIs’ professional development and will not automatically think to include these in your learning plan. You will have to take the initiative to ask for these opportunities and I strongly advise you to do so. ACFO’s Labour Relations Advisors are more than happy to help you with wording these professional development requests.

It can be challenging to figure out exactly what soft skills are required and how to go about developing them. I suggest taking a look at the Treasury Board website and reviewing the FI Competency Profile and FI-to-CFO Career Path framework. Take note of specific key words repeated in these resources and write them into your learning plan.

Soft skills development opportunities are available from the Canada School of Public Service, which offers courses in human resources and in supervisor and manager development. Another way to develop these types of skills is by participating in acting opportunities or rotating opportunities in other departments. And as always, if you need any assistance identifying necessary soft skills or resources for developing them, please feel free to get in touch with us for guidance and support.


Grant Boland

ACFO Labour Relations Advisor