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Creating the tech-savvy finance team

A new report, ‘Agile Finance Unleashed: The Key Traits of Digital Finance Leaders’ by AICPA, CIMA and Oracle explains that organisations with positive revenue growth are more likely to have digitally-savvy finance teams, reports LSCA Business Board member Anzo Francis.

Anzo Francis

March 2019

According to McKinsey, the top 10% of global firms account for 80% of the world’s economic profit. In the US, Amazon accounts for 45% of online retail sales, while Disney and Comcast control 40% of all programming spend.

These digital superstars capture the lion’s share of market demand, capital investment and skilled talent thanks to the following:

  • higher levels of digitisation; 
  • more investment in talent, innovation and intellectual assets; and
  • relentless focus on delivering a superior customer experience.

Companies that haven’t embraced this digital, customer-first way of working are struggling to stay relevant with their customers. As these digital superstars redefine what success looks like, finance teams must evolve to deliver success in customer experience, digitisation, innovation, strategy and talent.

So how do CFOs reinvent themselves and their teams?

The Agile Finance Unleashed report identifies three common traits of tech-savvy finance teams:

  1. Modern business processes
    Tech-savvy finance leaders use advanced technologies and establish operational excellence. 73% of digital finance leaders centralise finance subject matter expertise in a centre of excellence. 86% have a digital-first and cloud-first mind set, giving greater access to intelligent process automation and cloud technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) and Blockchain. 
  2. Data insights
    Tech-savvy finance teams know how to connect data, previously in disparate applications, to reveal new insights. They rely on AI to uncover hidden patterns, make recommendations and learn continually from the non-stop flow of data.
  3. Business partnering
    Tech-savvy finance teams have moved beyond reporting and use data-driven insights to identify the next growth markets and influence company direction. Armed with accurate and timely data, finance leaders are empowered to partner with the business and recommend new courses of action. 

As technology widens the gap between digital leaders and laggards, finance teams play a critical role in ensuring the organisation is not left behind. CFOs need to:

  • Confront difficult technology and human challenges while meeting finance’s intensive, business-as-usual demands. 
  • Understand where different technologies will have the greatest impact and show the boldness of vision to experiment and innovate. 
  • Build progressive people capabilities eg, predictive analytics and AI. 

This will equip teams to play a leading role in driving and supporting enterprise-wide digital transformation.

Anzo Francis is an Interim Finance Director, and a committee member of the London Society of Chartered of Accountants (LSCA), the ICAEW IT Faculty and the LSCA Business Board.

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