The Future of Finance: Three Stages From Two Perspectives
In the lead up to the Future of Finance and CFO Summit 2020, we spoke with Ian Brimicombe, Senior Vice President Group Finance, Burberry, and Camilla Thorsager Trendell, International Director & Finance Director itsu [grocery]. This report will show you how both companies are preparing for, moving towards, and dealing with the challenges presented by, the future of finance.
Like many businesses seeking to keep up with the demands of a rapidly changing market, both Burberry and itsu [grocery] are looking toward automated technologies to improve the finance function.
Burberry are starting the process of transforming and expanding their shared services, which also encompasses the standardisation and automation of processes. While RPA and IA aren’t part of Burberry’s current processes, they believe finance services will be improved by their implementation. A Constrained budget means the technology has to enable the transition to the Shared Service Centre, and build capabilities in value added activities.
Itsu [grocery] had 13 employees and 6 products in 2015, today this has increased to over 27 employees and over 10 product ranges. This growth has brought complexity, but the key short-term objective is to automate processes that will aid with future growth. itsu [grocery] currently do the majority of their work on SAGE and EXCEL, their plan is to move towards processing tasks and integrated systems. This contributes to a larger initiative to remove paper trials and decrease process time. The finance function spends less time processing and more time analysing, allowing for more focus on finance rather than processing.
As each business goes through a cycle of transformation, the role and expectations of their finance professionals are changing.
Automation allows for employees to spend more time on higher value activities Finance professionals have more time to take care of the business. Burberry have many front line functions like commercial sales, wholesale and digital platforms. There is a demand for finance business partners to repurpose their skills for supporting these functions. Burberry’s process includes the maintenance of ongoing skills for training members of the finance function. Their aim is to complete a significant transformation in roughly a year, whilst maintaining continuous improvement.
istu give employees the opportunity to grow and use their experience to adopt new roles. The finance team consists of a manger and two clerks, allowing for managers to empower those that work for them. Members of the finance team has a personal automation project along with their regular work, this empowers individuals and drives the implementation of automation. Each project has to take into account its impact on other departments, and its ability to integrate. This encourages communication and collaboration cross-departments. These projects encourage positive personal growth and engagement.
While Burberry and itsu [grocery] have identified and are executing a strategy to address the future of their finance function, some challenges, inevitably, still prevail.
After rapid growth since 2000, Burberry are lacking investment in building and enabling functions to support the larger enterprise. They have a stringent compliance programme that demands accurate financial insight. The majority of resources are directed to font line commercial activity, meaning finance must deliver with a constrained budget to meet all of the requirements. Another challenge is transitioning from legacy systems and processes. Burberry are also implementing an Enterprise Resource Panning platform for the future. They want to ensure a balance of deployed resources to finance activities, supported by processes, systems, and capabilities.
The impact on the team and processes is the most difficult part for itsu [grocery] as a growing business. After the initial focus on fast growth, itsu [grocery] are now implementing more structure whilst keeping the business dynamic. An advantage over larger businesses that tend to be less dynamic is that itsu [grocery] can maintain a level of flexibility. Growth presents difficulties, and itsu [grocery] need to find ways to maintain companywide communication. They are still working on the ideal balance. At the moment, communication is quick and easy as a small business.
Burberry and itsu have outlined their journeys into the Future of Finance in our Three Stages From Two Perspectives Infographic, take a look at what lessons they have learned, and how it can help impact your business! Join us at the Future of Finance and CFO Summit 2020 in London to meet industry leaders and hear thought-provoking insights into the Future of Finance. Download the agenda here!