Accenture's CFO Reimagined Research surveyed more than 700 finance and C-suite leaders to explore the expanding role of the CFO in the enterprise agenda.
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Adopting a revolutionary mindset
Traditional measures of finance productivity—including finance cost as a percent of revenue and finance staff per billion (USD) of revenue—are becoming outmoded and misleading. Finance resources should be aligned with business risk and strategic growth rates.
Finance should also be working to transform the finance customer experience. Too often, for example, the budget and forecast process is long and detailed while producing little of lasting value. Finance processes should be designed to simplify the customer experience and engage the business in a true collaboration.
The right technologies—including data ingestion tools, robotic process automation, automated analytics and artificial intelligence—can help finance professionals work side-by-side with business leaders. However, people are pivotal, and CFOs can no longer rely on recruiting or internal training to deliver needed skills. A new talent strategy is necessary, one that provides essential skills for finance’s new roles and igniting the spark that triggers value creation.
These roles are changing rapidly and range from enterprise-wide data governance to supervision of automation projects to the management of cyber risk.
Igniting the spark
Our research and our own experience indicate that finance professionals have little trouble defining their vision for the future. For example, four out of five CFOs are already actively seeking value creation opportunities across the broad business ecosystem.
We see organizations pursuing one of two paths: first, an operationally-oriented retooling of finance powered by next-generation enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems. This means stopping doing things that no longer make sense, such as eliminating unnecessary or low value-added work and creating a platform for change.
The second approach is a strategic, top-down redefinition of finance’s role, identifying those areas where finance can create the most value and then deploying the talent, tools and technologies to realize this vision.
Either path can lead to significant gains and help make finance a full partner in the future growth of the business. It is no wonder, therefore, that more than three-quarters (78 percent) of junior finance practitioners say that there has never been a more exciting time to be a finance professional.