I’m pleased to announce that Accenture has once again earned the #1 ranking in the 2020 HFS Top 10 Finance and Accounting Outsourcing (FAO) Service Providers report.

I’m just as interested, though, in the trends the research highlights as the initial shock of the global pandemic subsides. They echo what I’m seeing and hearing from clients who want to transform their finance organizations to be less transactional and more strategic. Nearly every finance executive who responded to a recent Accenture survey acknowledged the importance of having real-time process and operations in place. They’re looking for real-time scenario planning and insights that help them optimize cash flow, forecast with greater accuracy and integrate planning across the business. Not only will this help better position the finance organization as a trusted partner to the business, it will also help improve their operations maturity. When we surveyed executives in another Accenture study, we found that advancing operations maturity leads to improved profitability and efficiency.

Other insights from the report include:

Execution is key

The global pandemic proved how quickly – or not - businesses can pivot when they have to. Many want to accelerate what’s working well and shore up what’s not. HFS’s research notes that 70% of executives are now trying to find new ways to take out even more costs from finance operations. At the same time, 57% expect a strategic change in finance operations with an equal number looking to service providers to meet their objectives.

So what does this mean? It means looking for a partner who has the industry expertise, delivery capabilities and the size and scope to help you change and scale quickly. I’ve seen it work firsthand with a medical device manufacturer that found the right service provider. After a series of acquisitions, it had to consolidate and standardize global processes. By working with us to create an intelligent finance operating model driven by data and insights, it gained efficiencies, control and visibility across its operations. Within two years, its finance organization reduced intercompany balances by US$225 million, increased working capital savings by US$77 million and generated US$12.3 million in savings. Now it’s delivering higher value services to its business, customers and vendors.

At the end of the day, figure out how to get the right things done well – and fast.

Innovation must be constant

Not surprisingly, in the HFS research, 96% of CFOs (and 85% of other finance executives) see the future of an F&A function as having seamlessly automatic, or “invisible” accounting transactions with finance professionals focused on driving strategic objectives. And a full 75% of CFOs who participated ranked top-line growth as a #1 priority.

How are they going to do this? By partnering with a provider who has strong innovation capabilities. Think vision, strategy, a strong ecosystem and the ability to leverage emerging technologies to help you automate routine processes and capture, analyze and use data in real time to make faster – and more strategic – decisions. Look for a provider who continuously invests in technologies and smart partnerships.

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of CFOs (and 85% of other finance executives) see the future of an F&A function as having seamlessly automatic, or “invisible”, accounting transactions with finance professionals focused on driving strategic objectives. 

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In our own business we’re seeing a big demand for our data capabilities and clients wanting to brainstorm how to create the right systems and processes for their own organizations. They’re using blockchain, automation, analytics and AI to unlock new sources of value through our SynOps platform, where we bring together the best of technology and human ingenuity. NH Hotel Group, for instance, combined automation, AI and a lean organization structure to improve visibility into its financial performance and boost productivity by 45%. Just as important, it laid the foundation to cost-effectively add new disruptive technologies that free up agents to spend more time focusing on customer experiences.

The lesson: Build continuous innovation into everything you do.

The right fit matters

Every organization is unique, and change is hard for even the best teams. Set yourself up to succeed by looking for a provider who will be a strong cultural fit. This means understanding the environment your team needs to achieve your goals. When a European insurance company transformed its operations, it cut its debt nearly in half to US$53 million and reduced monthly revenue leakage by US$77 million. It also created a collaborative environment where everyone works together to better serve their customers. Talented people were freed up from transactional tasks, so they can develop other skills to help grow the business.

Even Accenture is changing. As HFS noted, we recently simplified our growth model to more closely align our strategy and consulting, technology and operations capabilities with what our clients need. Without a doubt, we’re all operating in a new world order that demands a much different level of agility and responsiveness.

If you’d like to talk about any of the report’s trends or explore how to transform your finance function, please feel free to reach me via email at manoj.shroff@accenture.com or on LinkedIn 

Manoj Shroff

Managing Director – Intelligent Finance Operations Innovation Lead

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