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Why today’s Finance function needs to look forward

about 2 years ago by Sam Banks
Finance Needs To Look Forward 2

Until recently, the role of the Finance function was primarily there in the back office to keep costs in check, ensure compliance, and support a business from a more reporting position, but things have changed. Organisations today, exposed to increasing risk and more stringent regulations, need more from Finance in these economically uncertain times. 

Finance functions are therefore now looking forward rather than back and stepping forward to become valued business partners, included in strategic decision making, and at the forefront of technological advances. But adapting to this new era is not without its difficulties. To be effective, the modern Finance function must evolve to overcome the challenges presented by not only its organisation’s requirements, but also by the adoption of tech in the workplace, and everchanging compliance and risk constraints. Here are the key challenges we’ve discussed with some of our clients:

The needs of the business

  • Finance functions need to integrate better with other business areas, especially IT, and lose any silo mentality. Stakeholder engagement is key to ensure visibility and help improve compliance and relevant processes across the business. Communication is the key.
  • Reduced costs are as important as ever, so improvements at a process level, through the adoption of the right technology is crucial 
  • Training, development and upskilling of the Finance team is imperative, both in terms of new tech and processes, but also in the wider remit of the overall business strategy. Hiring specialist talent is also high on the agenda.
  • Such an overhaul will often see a full change management program required, to integrate new systems or retrain individuals, again often resulting in CM or PM hires.

Technology

  • The adoption of any new tech, from ERP to AI, is increasingly under the remit of Finance, in conjunction with IT. Global platforms for reporting or financial planning and automation for processes are already commonplace, with their efficiency affording additional time to add value in other areas.
  • All new systems require integration with legacy systems, a transition period and inevitable training – all to be implemented with no downtime to the day-to-day Finance tasks
  • Cloud technology and advances in tech in general mean cybersecurity moves up the agenda
  • Advances in tech are fast and systems can become obsolete, so future proofing is vital and regular reviews should be standard

Compliance

  • Legislation is changing rapidly, particularly in areas such as AML – keeping a team up to speed with regulations will remain a challenge.
  • Brexit is likely to result in new regulations, compliance processes and new challenges – as such Finance professionals with cross-border specialist skills will be in high demand.
  • Individual accountability on CFO’s and senior professionals is also on the increase and needs to be planned for.

In meeting these challenges, a Finance function will be well placed to be the streamlined, effective, strategic business partner that every business needs. If your Finance function is entering a period of change, or you need specialist help on how to evolve to the best of your abilities, contact us today.