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February 19, 2022updated 26 Jul 2023 11:31am

How are finance leaders adapting to rapid change?

Finance leaders discuss the evolution of the CFO role to strategic business adviser, and how technology is transforming the finance function.

By lead monitor

The financial services industry has undergone significant transformation in recent years. In many cases, the CFO and the finance team have been front and centre of those changes.

So, in the current disruptive landscape, how is the role of the CFO evolving? Tech Monitor recently hosted a partner webinar, Digitising The Finance Function For FSI. Katie Wade, CFO at insurer Aegis London and Sam Hunt, head of finance at Loqbox, joined Ben Collins, senior director of industry marketing at Sage Intacct to explore those changes and find out what matters most to finance leaders.

It examines how the pandemic has impacted the financial services sector – what are the demands placed on finance leaders from other business functions? How are they living up to the role of strategic adviser to the business? And how is technology transforming the finance function with intelligence and insights?

Covid-19 prompted financial services leaders to question what they could deliver to help their organisation survive and thrive during the pandemic. Other business functions were seeking data as to the risks brought on by the pandemic, and how they could best quantify those risks.

The need for real time, agile data became paramount – especially within the new hybrid working environment. This, in cases like Aegis London, prompted the beginning of a transformation in finance.

Explains Wade: “We’re focused on, ‘how do we get the data that we need? How are we agile? How do we free up our time to be much more business-focused, and to add that value and to be able to support the business in decision making rather than just reporting?’”

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The webinar also examines the evolution of the role of finance leader from an accounting function to being more of a strategic business adviser. Particularly in the era of skills shortages, there is a greater demand for finance professionals who can add value and to talk the language that a business understands.

As a start-up, Hunt advocates for embedding the finance team into cross-functional teams around the company. “This makes it a more rewarding role,” he noted. “That kind of collaboration around other teams is important.”

Yet despite the importance of retaining talent, many employees are still stuck in Excel spreadsheets trying to rationalise data instead of spending their time more strategically.

As such, it is important to explore automated solutions that not only reduce risk, but free up employees’ time and provide faster, easier access to valuable business data.

“It’s important that CFOs and finance leaders really serve as the driver and instigator for a lot of this change,” said Collins. “This is no longer where the CTO or CIO are the ones who are mandating and effecting this change. It’s incumbent on the finance leaders and CFOs, if there’s an investment that needs to be made, to make a business case and make that investment.”

“Who knows where we’re going to be within the financial services industry, three months, six months, a year from now? Being able to adapt and be flexible, is going to be critical. And investing in the right tech tools allows businesses to adapt along the way.”

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