The New Role For CFOs And Finance Leaders

The Future of Finance is Now

Sounds like a fluffy statement you’ve heard before? Most likely it does, however, in many ways it’s true. What is meant by this is that all the things we see in the future of the finance function is already available to us now. The struggle is around figuring out to apply it successfully. Let’s start by considering the top priorities that senior finance leaders see for the future courtesy of SSON that have done a survey of 130 finance leaders as a build up to their Future of Finance conference in London on 11-13 February.

Top priorities:

  • Process optimization
  • Growth strategy
  • Performance management

See, not much news under the sun in terms of what senior finance leaders are prioritizing in the coming years. The only surprise on the list is that Finance now gets involved in the growth strategy of the company. A good sign of Finance starting to look beyond the tip of its nose and getting involved in the business. 

How do we get this done? 

You would think that since priorities don’t change much in the finance function that we would already have the needed skills to deliver on them. However, 95% of the respondents said they experienced a skill-gap in the finance function. That’s 95%! Perhaps now it’s less of a surprise that priorities don’t change because we haven’t solved them, and we don’t have the talent to solve them. 

Main skill-gaps:

  • Digital
  • People management
  • Innovation

This points to a clear sign that the challenges around process optimization and performance management are to be solved through digitizing the finance function and innovating for new ways of doing things. This digital transformation would be led by process automation, robotization and data analytics the respondents said. The key question to answer would be where do we find the people that can digitize finance processes and implement predictive and prescriptive analytics into performance management? 

  • Is it education that needs to change?
  • Will specialized vendors and consultants be able to do the trick?
  • Can we simply skip the people part and go straight to bots? 

As always with these kinds of surveys they raise more questions than answers yet they’re a good starting point to figure out what the key challenges are that we need to solve. 

What do you see in the Future for Finance?

Is your view of the future of finance different than what’s portrayed in this survey? If so what are some of the challenges that you’re looking to solve and are you making them a top priority. It’s interesting for me to see that business partnering was not part of the top priorities. It was identified as one of the missing skill-gaps though although only at #5. That just confirms, however, the view that we’re failing with business partnering because we’re not making it a top priority. I see a future where transactional processes are automated, analytics is done via AI meaning we’re discussing our options with a bot, and only business partnering is done by humans. Likely this will not happen tomorrow as we still have some age-old challenges to solve! 

If you would like to read the report in full you can download it here. Let’s step into the future together and help each other solve the key challenges. Are you ready? 

You can learn more about the top priorities that senior leaders see for the future of finance at the Future of Finance and CFO Summit in London, UK. To learn more about this event, download the agenda here.

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Key Strategies, Digital Enablers and Skills Prioritized Link