According to the Gartner View from the Board of Directors 2021 survey, 69% of board members want to accelerate digital business. In response, 82% of CFOs report that investments in digital are accelerating faster than in other areas, including talent, supply chain, business services or fixed assets.
What does this mean to the finance and accounting team of 2022?
According to Gartner, finance leaders anticipate a greater percentage of their time will be spent in improving flexibility of budgeting & forecasting (58%), closely followed by developing digital skills (56%) and redefining employee value proposition in hybrid environments.
Increasingly more Finance & Accounting (F&A) functions will adopt a hybrid work model in which CFOs provide the tools to finance staff to productively work from anywhere
Victor Ng: Finance staff at many organizations pulled off the impossible during a period of pronounced uncertainty in 2021. They were able to effectively close the books on time and even take a stab at earnings forecasts—from their homes.
Having proved their mettle, finance staff (and other knowledge workers) in the future will continue to seek employment opportunities that adhere to the “work from anywhere” model.
One of the biggest challenges business leaders and finance professionals in Singapore face when it comes to recruiting future talent is not offering remote or hybrid working (30%) per BlackLine’s latest survey.
As the “work from anywhere” model takes firmer hold in 2022, organizations will have to build up their remote working offerings.
This could involve investing in tools and technologies that help their F&A employees execute work tasks and better manage their time, whether it be automation for repetitive, time-consuming tasks, or collaboration tools that help teams find more productive and enjoyable ways to connect.
In these regards, CFOs will seek people with traditional financial skills, in addition to interpersonal skills like leadership, empathy, and adaptability, and cognitive skills like critical thinking, project management and decision-making.
Multiskilled F&A teams will become higher in demand as corporations seek more insightful business intelligence for decision-making
Victor Ng: CFOs will look to recruit talent with a combination of both traditional finance & accounting (F&A) proficiencies and broad-based software and technology skills.
The same BlackLine survey saw that financial systems integration (43%), intelligent automation (38%) and finance automation solutions (36%) were the top three technological skills business leaders and finance professionals in Singapore mentioned their companies required beyond traditional F&A qualifications.
It’s increasingly pertinent for F&A professionals to have a multidisciplinary approach in their jobs as one without the other is ineffective to reach or surpass their desired standard of performance.
The next stages of digital transformation will drive this growing demand for multi-skilled talent. Finance teams will be tasked with advising colleagues across functions on the strategic meaning of real-time financial metrics like revenues, capital availability, liquidity and net profit, as well as more subjective metrics like pipeline ageing, on-time deliveries, days sales outstanding, customer satisfaction and employee engagement.
Our survey saw that CFOs in Singapore believe future finance leaders will need to possess a wide range of skills to keep the function thriving. Here are the five most important skills identified:
- A strong understanding of risk management
- The ability to use new software or technology
- The ability to communicate complex financial information to different stakeholders
- A strong understanding of financial best practices
- The ability to collaborate with colleagues from other functions
To convert wide-ranging performance data into insights for each function’s decision-making needs, the finance organization will increasingly encompass individuals with broad business knowledge and technology skills.
Since each function produces its own data, finance organizations will be tasked with using machine learning and other cognitive computing tools to assess this data in relation to real-time financial information.
CFOs will have an expanded role to include ESG oversight
Victor Ng: It’s vital for Singapore to embrace global movements to remain competitive as a global financial hub. The rising interest in ESG investments is prompting the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) to actively pursue sustainable finance in a bid to drive long-term sustainable economic growth. This includes having all financial institutions make climate-related disclosures from June 2022.
This can affect non-financial institutions too and will require CFOs to help drive the sustainability imperative. As the business and strategic partner to the CEO, CFOs will step up to become the executive sponsor of their organization’s ESG initiatives.
These include developing the governance structure and control environment for the company’s environmental, social and governance factors and risks, while providing ESG oversight, monitoring and accountability.
CFOs are the logical candidate to lead the ESG initiative. Their responsibilities already entail ensuring that the financial report is accurate, complete and verifiable, according to GAAP accounting standards and disclosures. Given their knowledge of GAAP and how to prepare a financial statement, CFOs will ensure that ESG data receives the same attention and care as other financial data reported in the financial statement.