New capabilities, skills, and roles are needed in the finance function to meet growing pressure to deliver more value and serve as a true partner to the business.
From geopolitical and regulatory volatility to digital disruption transforming the way entire industries operate, the world of business is rapidly changing. To survive, organizations are evolving their operating models to boost value creation—rather than mere value preservation. In fact, 47 percent of chief executive officers (CEOs) have identified innovating new products, services, and ways of doing business as a strategic growth priority, according to KPMG research.1
Leading organizations are focusing individual business units outward, operating in a collaborative setting to drive value across the enterprise. These organizations are moving away from bureaucratic, functional silos and towards service-driven teams that can be deployed throughout the business as necessary.
Beyond these structural changes, the finance function will require new capabilities, skills, and roles to meet the growing pressure to deliver more value and serve as a true partner to the business. Ultimately, finance will need to alter its approach to attracting, retaining, and developing talent to step up to the challenge.
Managing and measuring enterprise performance and value contribution will be a top priority for chief financial officers (CFOs) of the future. They will be expected to unite their organization towards one goal: understanding inputs, perspectives, and challenges in order to drive the right strategic decisions for both investments and growth.
To achieve this, CFOs will need to treat their core accounting duties as a set of processes and determine how technology can be applied to improve efficiency, as noted in “Tech Innovation to Reinvent the CFO Suite,” a KPMG and Bloomberg Studios article. They will also need to recognize and take advantage of their unique position in the company—at the center of enterprise performance, connecting finance, operations, and strategy.2
While there is no single path for the next-generation CFO, the position’s increasing importance to the organization will be universal. CFOs will need the right tools, structure, and workforce to support growing responsibilities.
Digital disruption will inevitably spur organizational changes for the finance function. New centers of excellence will be developed to manage the implementation of disruptors, such as intelligent automation and data and analytics, and leverage the expertise of critical resources. Virtual service delivery will remove companies’ geographical boundaries, reducing the need for a local presence. Many people will be based remotely—either at home or in local offices—and will work in a virtual environment. The future will also likely see an increase in end-to-end process ownership, with finance collaborating with other parts of the business. This will ultimately give way to a less rigid hierarchical structure.
To address changing priorities, the CFO will need to lead a diverse finance team equipped with the right skills. The demand for a performance-centric and technology-enabled workforce will prompt finance to step outside of its traditional transaction processing and accounting role to focus on higher-value services.
Shifting priorities are prompting changes to the finance workforce. Below is a sampling of emerging roles to support new capabilities and skills requirements.
― Financial data modelers/scientists will execute complex financial models and advise on the financial and business impacts of different scenarios.
― Business solutions architects, with experience managing a digital workforce and overall knowledge of the systems landscape, will identify required finance and accounting process changes and implement new and relevant technologies.
― Innovation and investment strategists will identify changes in customer and competitor behavior and business implications, by taking an “outside-in” approach to developing insights from trend signals.
― Business planning analysts will handle interactions between different business groups and communicate information effectively. They are also likely to have extensive business knowledge and deep technical finance and accounting expertise.
― Business partners will need a strong understanding of external markets to examine and leverage threats and opportunities into strategic direction for the business. They will accordingly navigate ambiguity and influence a potential shift in the business model.
With the need for new roles and retraining of those who will be affected by the fallout from increasing automation and other organizational changes, finance functions require an effective talent management strategy.
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1 KPMG International, 2017 Global CEO Outlook: Disrupt and grow
2 KPMG LLP and Bloomberg Studios, Tech Innovation to Reinvent the CFO Suite (December 2017)