Finance Needs New Skills to Stay Relevant

Mary Driscoll's picture

Three quarters of finance executives who responded to a recent APQC survey are engaged in some form of finance function improvement. Unsurprisingly, CFOs want finance to push for greater cost-efficiency. That campaign will never end, especially as finance moves stridently toward robotics and various process innovations in the realm of transaction processing.

But most people polled also say finance needs to acquire greater knowledge of data science to stay relevant to the business. They are well-aware of the general managerial embrace of data-heavy scenario planning and fact-driven resource allocation. Survey takers report that business leaders have become more vocal about the need for better insights from finance to light the path to profitable growth. But data analytics should not hog the agenda. Leadership, collaboration, and diplomacy skills also need attention.    

There is a problem, though. When asked about the current state of professional training in finance, the majority of survey participants admit it is ad hoc or infrequent. This comes at a moment when a well-designed and eclectic training regimen is sorely needed by finance professionals who want, more than anything, to play a stronger role in business problem solving.

Look for further analysis in APQC’s full research report, Finance Transformation in 2016: CFOs Aim for Smart and Lean.  Four themes are noteworthy:

  • predictive analysis based on financial as well as operating data,
  • investments in information management innovations,
  • a dire need for new thinking about finance talent development, and
  • change-management techniques.

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