Digital requires a shift in culture reflected in different behaviours; finance must focus on supporting innovation, a measured approach to risk taking, collaborating with the business and having a much more entrepreneurial outlook. As data quality improves perhaps it is time to recognise that sometimes providing 100% accuracy on a figure versus 80% will not facilitate better decision making, especially if that accuracy comes at the cost of timeliness in reporting which may mean missed business opportunities.
With the need to better serve customers, ever increasing access to rich data to enable this, and increasing opportunities to apply automation in traditional finance operations, the balance of roles in finance are pivoting towards insight generation and performance management. New roles in scenario planning, business model simulation and decision support are increasingly emerging yet this shift doesn’t marginalise the importance of more traditional stewardship and finance operational roles. Nearly every organisation we talk to is automating through the use of RPA to reduce the time take to process information. Traditional finance roles are transforming through this process and many organisation now see they don’t possess the skills within their teams that they will require going forward. This shortage of skills was another key concern raised by CEOs in PwC’s recent Global CEO Survey.
Commercial insight and digital “know-how” are critical, as well as process reengineering, change management and data governance will be most prized as finance operations become increasingly analytical, judgement demanding and technology led; recruitment pools will need to expand and diversify into skills not traditionally associated with finance. (ACCA: Professional accountants - the future). Many finance teams have moved away from these skills over the last decade as they have focussed on cost and efficiency - perhaps there is now a risk that they lack this commercial edge and that is the skill-shortage the aforementioned CEOs were referring to?
As a result of the above traditional career paths in “finance” no longer exist; as enterprise functions transform and collaborate in the face of digital, the range of career opportunities becomes increasingly diverse, reflecting the broader skills of those in the organisation, and the needs of the business. (ACCA: Professional insights, Finance shared services careers: opportunity or end game?)
Learning and engagement
In the face of digital, valued learning interventions in finance are transformed. The pace of change, technology transformation and virtual working places a new premium on activities such as reverse mentoring, secondments, inter-generational knowledge share and social media engagement strategies. (Professional accountants - the future: generation next)