Preparing finance for the future: the challenges ahead for CFOs

By Nell Walker
The value the finance function delivers to an organisation is changing fast and this will have a significant impact on resource planning, day-to-day ope...

The value the finance function delivers to an organisation is changing fast and this will have a significant impact on resource planning, day-to-day operational finance, business and financial analysis, innovation and information and systems, according to Finance 2020: closer than you think, a new report from specialist recruitment firm Robert Half UK.

In the longer term, process automation within the wider corporate digitisation agenda with the move from manual operations to digital solutions, the finance function will need to transform. This will bring real pressure on finance leaders when combined with compliance, regulatory and reporting requirements with an ongoing need to protect assets while managing costs are all conspiring to bring real pressure on finance leaders. Finance function teams are increasingly expected to participate in company-wide innovation programmes to help drive profitability and growth.

From the research over 200 CFOs and FDs including interviews, the key trends and implications of the future of finance are explored. Looking forward, CFOs identified the most important areas the business will expect support by 2020 as ‘commercial business opportunities’ (32%), ‘efficient time management and higher work volume’ (23%) and ‘internal and external stakeholder communication’ (20%).

Peter Simons, Head of Future Finance Research, CIMA Global, says: ‘CFOs are balancing the need to support businesses to remain profitable and remain compliant, while supporting the business to seek out commercial opportunities which is seeing them invited back to the table again and again. What this report by Robert Half shows is many CFOs are already considering their long-term plans in finding the new equilibrium required by 2020. Leading CFOs have already estimated their future staffing requirements with this in mind.’

Phil Sheridan, Senior Managing Director, Robert Half UK, South America and the Middle East said: ‘The finance function has been experiencing a period of evolution, and we’re seeing this through enhanced, specialised skills set in growing demand in accounting and finance. While financial acumen and ensuring regulatory compliance are still absolutely key, CFOs looking ahead to the future recognise they need additional skills including the ability to help their organisation exploit technology to fuel business growth. This is not a battle that can be won overnight, but should be a planned programme of transformation that can be tackled successfully with the right blend of technology, people and process.’

 

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