Finance innovation for the future

The future looks bright for a career in finance. By focusing on five areas highlighted in this CFO research survey, finance professionals can thrive and become a business partner of choice in their enterprise.

A recent report, Finance innovation for the future, from CFO.com suggests five actions to prepare finance professionals for the future.

Key findings

1. To become a leader, expand your view

Finance professionals are focused on what they need to learn in order to help the business run better, not just their own function. To gain this kind of understanding and advance in their careers, respondents say they are most likely to seek out general management experience (43 per cent), operations experience (36 per cent), and information technology experience (34 per cent) for more advanced analytical capabilities.

2. Turn finance into a team of information analyzers, not data caretakers

Finance professionals envision a more collaborative working environment, where sophisticated financial analysis is tied directly to swift business actions. This impacts external as well as internal partners within the company’s value chain. Finance professionals not only see a clear need for more collaboration, but also a greater need for self-sufficiency in their use of technology, and a more forward-looking analytical view. They see themselves transforming from data caretakers to true information analyzers.

3. Adapt technology to a new generation of finance professionals

Survey respondents say that their future success depends on new ways of working that are collaborative, flexible and up-to-the-minute. To foster this kind of work culture, respondents believe their companies must bring their enterprise information systems up to the standards that consumer IT — smartphones, tablets, apps — has established for speed, flexibility, and ease of use.

4. Transform expectations, and extend the use of advanced analytics throughout all functions

In the future, the finance function’s influence throughout the enterprise will be based less on its ability to keep track of the numbers and more on its ability to understand what those numbers mean for the direction of the business. Respondents say that becoming even more involved with strategy development and execution will be essential for the finance function — along with developing advanced information-processing capabilities.

5. Strengthen your expertise — educate yourself about real-time analytical capabilities

In line with their expanding mandate, finance functions will need to be able to evaluate the multitude of technology providers in the market and the diverse range of capabilities they provide. The value of “digitalization,” enabled by widespread automation, will no longer be restricted simply to gathering data faster or storing larger volumes of it. Rather, advanced technologies offer the potential for actual transformation of the finance function and, by extension, of the business itself.