The Future of Finance
Insights, Trends, and Opportunities Facing Tomorrow’s Finance Leaders
The role of CFO is evolving at an exponential rate. And with change comes challenges. To help navigate this new landscape, we’ve assembled a group of finance leaders to bring you “Industry Voices: The Future of Finance.” This forum features insights from today’s top finance experts covering trends, challenges, and opportunities facing today’s CFOs and finance professionals.
Barriers to Success
For years finance professionals have tried to change the perception of their roles within their organizations. A lot of progress has ensured finance team members not only have a seat at the table but are also respected as key stakeholders. Despite this evolution, many finance pros are still running their operations the way they did a decade ago. Let’s explore some of the most common barriers to success.
“I see a lot of finance teams still working the same way they have been working for twenty years or more. While tools like Excel and reporting platforms have improved, the quarterly crunch happens every quarter with little chance of changing. Also, basic accounting functions are labor-intensive even when platforms have been deployed to automate activities (e.g., expense reports, billing, etc.).”
Poor Communication, Collaboration, and Coordination
“I think the biggest barrier to success when you have any team is comprised of three things that are often not done well: Communication, collaboration, and coordination. Everyone should have clearly defined roles. They do their part and, where applicable, hand it off to the next person so they can get their part done. Everyone works together and helps one another.
Finance Teams Need to Be Freed Up
“I see finance teams hampered by backward processes, still causing unnecessary errors. They’re held back by focusing on transactions and tasks rather than having the software to automate those processes. Additionally, they’re not getting the data and reporting they need to be predictive—using AI, for instance, to gain insights on risk. We need to free up our finance teams to really have value now beyond the confines of traditional tasks.
Key Themes for Scaling Finance Teams
Onboarding and scaling finance teams is a huge hurdle for many organizations. All too often, teams are siloed into their specific roles, which makes cross-collaboration virtually impossible. Coupled with antiquated processes and scalability begins to feel like an out-of-reach concept. Here are some insights on how to scale and grow finance teams for success.
Don’t Have Managers, Have Trainers
“The worst thing I encountered at every job before starting my own company (and is the reason WHY I started my own company) was the management.
I believe that if managers act more like trainers and less like managers, then you will have grateful employees who feel like they are valued and never berated.
The Role of Automation and Machine Learning
“Deploying automation and machine learning should free up the finance team to be more proactive. Instead of merely reporting on results, they can pinpoint areas of concern or opportunities to help guide the organization as it happens. The quarterly or monthly crunch I mentioned earlier should go away as the team starts working with real-time results. Over time, financial analysts augmented by real-time platforms will be embedded with other functions to guide the organization instead of being a separate function.
Maximizing Efficiency is Key
“Scaling a finance team is essentially allowing people to grow and handle the increasing needs of your scaling business. What’s key is collaboration tools, processes that maximize efficiency across a broader playing field, and a way to continue capturing real-time data and conducting financial reporting and analysis at scale. Another key factor is workflows that accommodate the additional tasks and people involved but don’t add any additional complexity.
Technology’s Role in Finance
When building out the finance team of the future, deploying the right technology for your team and organization is paramount. What technologies will help the team move faster, enable them to be more strategic, and address their everyday challenges? Continue working on getting the answers to these questions and more when it comes to leveraging finance technology for the success of your business and team.
Opportunities to Integrate Technology Effectively
“The biggest technology gap I often see for finance teams is that they treat technology as something separate or as a function. Technology is no longer separated from the business but is an integral part of doing business effectively. Integrating technology effectively will be critical to the success of scaling finance teams.
Focus on Value-Added Strategies
“Automation is often seen as a means of freeing employees from those mundane, time-consuming tasks. That much is true. And with the extra time, finance teams can shift their focus toward more value-added strategies. They can start thinking outside the box and offer innovative ways to protect companies from rising inflation. On top of that, however, digital finance and automation tools also offer teams access to real-time data, gaining greater visibility into your organization’s financial standing. If your company’s finance function is visible, more departments can be aware of the financial state and contribute to the overall strategy.
Be Strategic, Not Transactional
“It’s not just a digital shift in operations bringing finance teams into the future. It’s the ability to be strategic rather than transactional; to have a data-powered vision to move forward on an optimal path. We have super-smart automated processes that free us to be far more efficient and more of a strategic partner in terms of decision-making, reporting, analysis, and planning. With new technology, we can cover all the bases—and predict with confidence.
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