NAFA 2022: Prepare for the next gen of finance leaders

The role of finance, and in particular that of the CFO, has rapidly evolved in the era of unprecedented levels of change and uncertainty



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Rohma Sadaqat

Published: Tue 17 May 2022, 6:52 PM

Business leaders in the finance and accounting industry need to dedicate their time to ensuring that they are preparing the next generation of finance professionals.

Speaking at the New Age Finance and Accounting Summit 2022, Adnan Patel, Principal Consulting, Crowe, stressed that knowledge is key, especially in an industry that has seen countless disruptions. Towards this end, he noted that there has been an increasing focus on acquiring the right type of talent across the finance industry.

“We have to change the people that we are recruiting,” he said. “We have to go to the financial institutions that we graduated from and challenge them to better educate and better prepare the next generation of financial leaders. Only then can we start expecting people to execute our strategies. Execution is key, but so is having proper systems in place. The question is where do you want to go, and the answer is that we want to go where there is opportunity.”

Similarly, Andreas Simon, regional director MEA at Jedox, shared how important it is to have not only the right technology in place, but also the proper processes to improve business efficiency and drive digital transformation. Citing Gartner, he noted that 70 per cent of new financial planning and analysis will become extended planning and analysis, or xP&A, projects by 2024.

“The role of finance, and in particular that of the CFO, has rapidly evolved in the era of unprecedented levels of change and uncertainty,” he said. “Finance teams need to provide the business with insight and direction for informed decision-making. Now is the time for CFOs to leverage the latest technologies and transform the finance function to the critical role of business partner, champion of change, and profit driver within their organisations.”

Technology plays key role

Gururajan Krishnamurthy, head accountant channel Middle East, ZOHO, said that there are several technologies that have resulted in major disruptions in the finance industry. Chief among them, he said, has been the monumental shift towards the Cloud. A new business model has to be adapted to the needs of the hour, he advised.

“From an operational perspective, there are three key areas where you need to direct your focus,” he said. “These include cost, control, and compliance. Cloud based solutions represent a potential cost savings of 30 per cent over their on-premise equivalents. Cloud lets you add new business jurisdiction and auto update local rules, minimizing the maintenance cost.”

Narendran Thillaisthanam, chief technology officer at Vuram, also highlighted Hyperautomation as a new trend in the industry. Hyperautomation, he explained, is a business-driven and disciplined approach that organisations use to rapidly identify, vet, and automate as many business and IT processes as possible. According to Gartner, by 2024, more than 70 per cent of large enterprises will have over 70 concurrent Hyperautomation initiatives.

“Hyperautomation is the solution to many disruptions in the industry,” he said. “Five per cent of occupations today consist of activities that are 100 per cent automatable. In addition, about 60 per cent of occupations have at least 30 per cent of their activities that are automatable.”

Dinesh Chandra, regional vice president of Automation Anywhere, also shared his insights on workforce transformation and the technologies that will be critical for it. “Our world is changing faster than ever, and companies are facing a workforce transformation. They are racing to transform into a digital workforce with automation and AI.”

According to research by Gartner, over 80 per cent of organisations are investing more in automation. Towards this end, businesses are increasingly looking towards digital workers – software bots designed to execute activities, tasks, and operations across digital systems 24/7. These digital workers will help people and teams create value and accelerate the pace of work. They will also leave employees with more time to solve problems, build relationships, and innovate.

“So, why do companies use a digital workforce in finance? There are several reasons: You can streamline manual processes to increase cash flow and reduce costs; accelerate the financial close to provide timely information for sound business decision making; tighten controls to improve accuracy and compliance with regulatory requirements; expand digital and cognitive intelligence capabilities; and make the human workforce more productive and focused on value-added activities.”

rohma@khaleejtimes.com


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