In its Finance 2020 report, Robert Half admonished that while “the finance function is set to experience the biggest evolution in its history,” bosses seemed confident in their ability to take the arguably more traditional side of business and give it the ultimate digital transformation.
It’s a concept shared by FDs as well, who placed “keeping pace with changing technology” as their second highest priority – coming after the need for regulatory compliance mandates to be met.
Not only will digital solutions mean an increase in customer insight, finance executives stressed, it would boost productivity (56 per cent), allow employees to take on more value-add work (47 per cent) and improve decision-making process (43 per cent).
But one challenge could come to the fore. More skilled professionals would be needed, with Robert Half’s senior managing director, Phil Sheridan, emphasising: “It’s important businesses and finance executives now try to understand what skills are going to be needed in the future and where skill gaps are likely to be.
“You may not be able to predict everything that’s going to happen, but you can be as prepared for the future as possible.”
It was a point likewise emphasised by Eliseo Belmonte, managing director of SAP Finance Transformation at Accenture Technology. Speaking to Judy Cubiss of the Digitalist, Belmonte explained: “Digital technologies elevate finance to a new role in the business, disrupting traditional ways of working, demanding a change in talent and differentiation through insights.
“By 2022, half of the current finance functions will no longer be relevant, and half of the required capabilities are nonexistent today or are just emerging. This year needs to be the year for ‘raising the new finance talent.'”
The latter issue is one Robert Half has been keen to highlight, having released research suggesting adaption has meant a shift in required skills that 68 per cent believe will work wonders for the finance department.
FDs cited data analysis (42 per cent), communication (40 per cent), problem-solving (37 per cent), strategic vision (34 per cent), commercial/business acumen (33 per cent) and IT (32 per cent) as key requirements of candidates.
Indeed, 81 per cent of CFOs are looking to recruit to plug the skills gap potentially widened by said digital transformation, with 50 per cent set to ramp up their recruitment efforts over the next 12 months.
Meanwhile, 31 per cent are adding new positions to implement digitisation efforts and 56 per cent plan to hire interim and temporary staff to help manage the digital transformation.