2019 Year in Review: Finance’s Triumphs and Challenges

As the year draws to an end, now is the time to look back on the successes and challenges for finance in 2019. Setting up a strong base of information to heads into the New Year is key, and we have broken down some of the key priorities, innovations, and changes that finance leaders have experienced over the last year. This article will be able to pinpoint areas of your business that need to take the spotlight in 2020, and prepare you for the challenges that are on the horizon.


The Changing role of the CFO

2019 has been a year of change, which saw the role of Finance Leaders shift from traditional accounting roles, into that of a technologist. Whilst this might imply a more removed role, Finance Leaders have spent the year focusing on becoming more hands-on to foster relationships. In the Future of Finance Benchmarking Report 2019, Finance Leaders named Business Leaders and IT as their most important partners for collaboration.

The shift towards new technology is making it necessary for Business and Finance Leaders to maintain face-to-face relationships, communicate constantly, and develop a mutual understanding of each other’s roles and requirements. The Future of Finance Benchmarking Report highlighted business partnering and innovative problem solving as priorities for redefining finance’s value proposition.


Technology’s impact (Automation/Digitisation)

Data is the second biggest ‘nut’ to crack, according to the Future of Finance Benchmarking Report, and Finance Leaders also revealed that they believe data analytics and data management will enable finance to drive the greatest value-add to the enterprise. By far the biggest greatest value-adding power for Finance Leaders is autonomy and digitisation, which has presented both an obstacle and a major asset for finance in 2019.

A key challenge emerging technology presents is the ability for Finance Leaders to understand every aspect of highly detailed and specialised concepts such as AI and Blockchain. With so much disinformation surrounding AI and its implementation, there needs to be a conceited effort to prepare leaders and the general workforce alike for the arrival of new technology. The Future of Finance Benchmarking Report revealed that Finance Leaders see the main use for artificial intelligence as a vehicle for offering better analytics, in order to support decision making.


Talent Management

Changes in technology has ushered in new paths for talent development, and traditional roles are opening up as a result of intelligent technology. A key talent challenge Finance Leaders are prioritising is design thinking & problem solving, according to the Future of Finance Benchmarking Report. This need to integrate and develop digital skills into career paths will also impact recruitment. Tapping into creative and tech-savvy thought processes’ when hiring and nurturing talent is crucial, as it will have a lasting impact of the effectiveness of future Finance Leaders to adapt with changing technology.


Preparing for a cultural shift

The Future of Finance Benchmarking Report revealed that cultural change is the key ‘nut’ to crack for Finance Leaders looking into 2020. Emerging technologies are changing both existing roles, and presenting opportunities for new roles. The Future of Finance Benchmarking Report highlighted that many organizations in 2019 are not yet data-ready, due to a lack of talent with data analytics skills and a silo mentality. This limits the organisation’s ability to grow and communicate properly in regards to data, and will remain a key challenge for Finance Leaders moving into 2020. This year has involved a lot of refocusing culture into a more collaborative environment, which will continue to flourish into the New Year, and present opportunities that were previously unavailable.


2020 offers the opportunity to learn more and implement the huge changes to finance that 2019 set in motion. Make sure you are on the front line of innovation, ahead of every challenge, and networking with premier thought leaders, at the Future of Finance and CFO Summit in London on the 10th-12th February 2020.