Finance Leaders Convene to Reimagine the Future of Finance
On March 31, over 80 finance leaders from a diverse range of companies continued the Future of Finance conversation. This event was a continuation of our efforts to co-create the future of the accounting and finance profession.
Even in this virtual format the shared experience was clear. To quote a famous poet “we are all in the same storm but in different boats”. Those similar “storms” revolved around digital transformation, new and enhanced capabilities, finding and retaining talent, hybrid working and orienting towards value creation and value partnering.
In the Swiss Re boat was John Regan, CFO for Finance Reinsurance America’s, who key noted on his organization’s finance transformation journey. John said the bottom line is we can’t stay as we are – finance needs to adapt with the business in an ever evolving environment. The risk of not investing is “we are going to lose talent, not be able to create efficiencies, and miss business opportunities to help grow and drive the business forward”.
John showed a graphic depiction of the Swiss Re finance transformation journey using the illustration of building a bridge.
It really depicted the feeling of transformation and the stages of change an organization must go through to achieve their vision. He spoke about key planks such as infrastructure and digitization, creating efficiency and capacity to become more of a value partner and finally organizational structure and change.
John reflected on the hardest part of the journey – a combination of change management and upskilling talent. He gave a couple of excellent examples; one was to create change ambassadors in different locations and levels to provide better insights and address true concerns. Also, the introduction of ‘tech-cafes’ was a powerful grass roots way for teams to share how they were using tools in a different way to extract data, report and create capacity. The concept snowballed and teams readily jumped in and added to the examples with cross-learning.
After the keynote, as a way to land and operationalize the learnings from John, the group utilized a working finance function maturity model. Leaders assessed where their organization was today on several competency areas and where they needed to mature in order to reach their 3-year visions. In breakouts leaders then explored this model and used it to discuss their key priorities over the next year. The key themes included:
- In 3 years, it will be critical to be an anticipatory organization through providing data and insights at the right time.
- Assessing and streamlining operations, roles & responsibilities to drive efficiencies will be a focus for the next year at most organizations.
- Over the next year, finance organizations are beginning / continuing the journey from transactional and reactive to proactive and value partnering by blending operational and finance data.
- Migration and implementation of new systems and processes–ERP, ESG reporting/risk assessment and RPA, to name a few –will support 3-year visions.
- Keeping talent front and center to ensure the organization can thrive in a time of great transformation continues to be key.And delivery of career development and capability programs.
- Aligning teams around a shared purpose, goals and strategies will support transformation. A number of leaders shared their visions.
What is next?
- To follow up on the learnings from the group collectively and at their individual organizations.
- Further our collective accounting and finance profession vision for 2025 and a bold vision for 2030.
- Take the work from this virtual Summit and build towards our in-person meeting in Austin Tx, from December 7-9.
And finally the key action step must be around talent and skills. Enhancing capability and mindset is crucial. Please message me to learn more about the Future of Finance group and to discuss how we can help with preparing your team for the storms and opportunities ahead!
This post by Barry Payne, Director of External Relations for AICPA-CIMA.