In brief

In brief

  • Chief Financial Officers (CFOs) are investing in digital, but getting to real value means investing in building their teams’ complementary skills.
  • The modern finance professional is an advisor to the business, providing growth and profitability insights, leaving transactional tasks to machines.
  • Providing differentiated, intelligence-led services to the business requires investing in a comprehensive transformation of the future workforce.

The reimagined finance function

Many CFOs are investing in digital capabilities at an increasing clip through automation, artificial intelligence (AI) and analytics. But most lack a workforce ready to maximize the value of those tools. This is akin to buying a high-end racecar while being limited to driving at city speeds.

CFOs need to invest in creating a truly future-forward finance capability: redefining roles, empowering workers with intelligent technologies, and developing and hiring people with new types of skills. Working with their Chief Human Resources Officer (CHRO), CFOs can reimagine the finance function.

Eight out of 10 (81 percent) CFOs we surveyed agreed that identifying and targeting areas of new value across the business is a key CFO responsibility. Unlocking this value requires developing the core skills of tomorrow’s finance team, today—creating a “Human+” workforce that allows humans and machines, collectively, to do what they do best.

Eighty-one percent of CFOs agree that identifying and targeting areas of new value across the business is a key CFO responsibility.

Skilling for what humans do best

Rather than marginalizing workers, the influx of technology brings a new level of empowerment and engagement. Finance professionals will be highly valued for uniquely human competencies like planning, analysis and data-based decision-making. In these nuanced areas, humans’ emotional intelligence, interpersonal skills, creativity and innovation can help their companies compete more effectively than ever.

The key to building these new competencies and behaviors is new skilling for the post-digital age. New personalized learning platforms and AI allow companies to scale learning and performance support in near real-time.

CFOs should proactively invest in building skills like predictive analytics, scenario building and experimentation—all of which rely on humans augmented by new technologies and data-based insights—so their teams can thrive in a new era of finance work.

A willing workforce


of workers think it is important to develop their own skills to work with intelligent machines.


of workers would invest their free time to learn new skills.

What pacesetters are doing today

In the modern, intelligent finance function, people are at the core.

The only question is the pace and scope of the investment in those people. To begin, CFOs should work with CHROs to take the first steps:

1: Establish the vision and strategy for a modern intelligent finance function. Finance is changing dramatically. This requires a new or refreshed vision of the function—a forward-looking, inspiring perspective of the new services provided.

2: Define the future view of work and how this translates to your workforce. Translate your overarching vision to the design of finance work. Make a bold prediction about your automation and AI potential and envision a function that represents your post-digital ambition. Establish a future view of the workforce and partner with HR to understand workforce implications and opportunities.

3: Future-proof your competency model and people strategy. Future-proof your competency model and people strategy. Rewrite the competency model to reflect finance’s new mandate. Create new job profiles and update existing job profiles—all roles will change. Consider your workforce options—to build, buy, bot or borrow the right combination for your company to infuse new skills into finance teams.

It’s an exciting new era in finance, with major changes ahead. By diving in to help shape those changes, rather than simply reacting to them, leading CFOs are preparing their teams to thrive in a new era. Investing in the finance workforce is not only the right thing to do—it’s key to fueling profitable growth.

Steve Culp

Senior Managing Director – Strategy & Consulting

Eva Sage-Gavin

Senior Managing Director – Talent & Organization / Human Potential

Cherene Powell

Managing Director – Accenture Strategy, CFO & Enterprise Value


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