Making the Most of Grid-Iron Finance

It’s a crazy time in football. Teams are signing new players to fill needed gaps or to attempt an upgrade. There are new coaches and new schemes. Unlike football, businesses don’t have a set number slots for their roster. If they can get away with finding someone who can do two or three different jobs and still be productive, they’d absolutely go for it. The world of staffing finance and accounting organizations says a lot about who is a player and who is a coach.

Recently, Robert Half released an in-depth report and salary survey for those in finance and accounting. Besides the very interesting salary data, there are three excellent takeaways from the report.

  1. Finance and accounting job descriptions are changing
  2. IT is getting more involved in financial operations
  3. The needs have shifted from transactional processes to more analytical functions

The Change in Finance Jobs

The report very clearly states that what we once thought were classic finance positions are now being de-emphasized.

“Companies increasingly realize that not every job requires a full-time employee. Experienced accounting and finance professionals can be brought in for everything from addressing staffing gaps to providing senior-level expertise for key initiatives.”

It makes financial sense to not have to commit full-time headcount for cost-center positions—which is what the bulk of finance and accounting jobs still are. Certainly, for midsized companies, you have people who must wear multiple hats. It may be the CFO or controller who also has to spend significant time doing accounts payable and receivable, just because the risks and necessary controls required are so high.

Jobs like AP do not need to involve a 40-hour work week in most organizations, but they do require someone to do them. Invoices do not pay themselves, after all. Of course, that pulls more senior members in different directions, slowing down the entire operation.

Future-Proofing with Automated Finance Systems

One of the more interesting aspects of the report was a short discussion on Finance and IT working closely together. Specifically, 51% of CFOs say they collaborate more with their chief information officer now versus three years ago.

Why is this important? There are predictions that manual accounting functions will likely be automated in the future. The technology for accounting functions is getting better—we see it exploding in Fintech. At the same time, there is a gap in the desire and expertise in the workforce when it comes to more mundane aspects of finance. If a company wants to grow, technology is the only feasible way to do it and achieve a valid ROI.

Software is becoming more comprehensive and able to do what humans can’t at scale once the frameworks are in place.

Finance Must Become More Valued

The number of finance jobs is still growing, but it’s in the areas that require “thinkers” not just “worker bees.” Going back to the football analogy, companies are looking for high-value strategists, not just role players. There are many challenges around analysis, systems integration, risk and compliance, an internal audit that require immediate attention.

In other words, quarterbacks and coaches are the real prized employees, not linemen or just someone who happens to be a body. That said, the work—including what may be considered a “lesser job”—still needs to be done.

Seems like an even more important case for automation: the ability to elevate the team from a bunch of blockers and tacklers to those who can coordinate the success of the business.