Is the future of finance new technology or new people

Preparing for the future finance function.

In part 1 of this series, Do you define your CFO role? Or does it define you? The disruption of the CFO’s DNA1, we showed how the CFO’s role is being reshaped by four major forces:

• Digital
• Data
• Risk and uncertainty
• Stakeholders crutiny and regulation

For CFOs to meet these challenges, they must not only re-evaluate their own competencies, but also equip their function with the right tools, and surround themselves with the right team.

In part 2 of this series we explore the finance tools and team of the future, as we answer the question: Is the future of finance new technology or new people? Drawing on our survey of 769 CFOs and finance leaders in 32 countries and in-depth interviews with 22 CFOs, we envision a finance function that embraces technological innovations to improve effectiveness, increase efficiency and enhance insight. We also envision the people required to make the most of this technology, and provide the complementary skills and competencies to drive decision-making in support of the organization’s purpose and strategy.

Our research shows that many CFOs believe that their current finance function is not equipped to meet the demands the future will place on it. Forty-seven percent say their current function does not have the right mix of capabilities to meet its future priorities. Sixty-nine percent see the finance leader role fundamentally changing as traditional finance tasks are automated or managed in shared services centers.

We believe that many senior executives are, in fact, underestimating the changes on the horizon for the finance function. As technology, globalization and demographic trends continue to disrupt organizations, whole industries and indeed the working world as a whole, the role of the finance function will increasingly be brought into question. Where once its remit was predominantly that of a reporting function that focused on balancing the books, it will become a data-driven decision-center. Technology will play an increasingly significant role in executing many traditional finance tasks while at the same time generating greater insight. Meanwhile, finance people will spend a greater proportion of their time working with colleagues across the organization to make decisions in support of the strategy.

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