Designing the finance function of the future needs strong management to lead change

Karachi, July 31, 2019: Insights on what will shape the future of the finance function are laid out in a new report from ACCA (the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) and PwC called Finance: a journey to the future?

The report summarises the responses of over 1,100 members and PwC contacts worldwide plus the views of the attendees of a series of roundtable events on six hypotheses about the future of finance which were developed jointly by the ACCA and PwC.

The findings for discussions with a core group of Pakistan respondents reveals:

  • 83 percent believe that accessible, trusted data will drive real-time, customer-centric decision making in their organization.
  • 75 percent accepted that trusted data will be open and accessible across the organization between the present day and the longer-term horizon.
  • 83 percent agreed that finance teams will spend a lot of their time on generating insights and will spend all their time on forwarding insights and not rearward review.
  • 77 percent agreed that soon new roles, skills, and career paths will be needed as traditional finance roles will disappear.
  • 75 percent agree that a change in structures will make the finance function virtual.
  • 51 percent believe the traditional CFO role will no longer exist – to be replaced by roles at the chief operating officer and chief strategy officer.

Commenting on the report, Sajjeed Aslam, head of ACCA Pakistan said: ‘Our results show that finance is changing at a rapid pace, and this is both a challenge and an opportunity.  Interestingly, the biggest barrier to this change is leadership mindset – alongside getting to grips with the technology that now pervades our working lives. It’s knowledge of this technology that’s key for the future – leaders need to keep up to speed on trends.

Brian Furness, global head of finance consulting, PwC added: ‘The need for trusted and accessible data that meets customers’ needs came out top in these six scenarios, and I believe this is good news – alongside the other opportunities ahead, this is a real chance for finance to develop a more proactive, advisory function, where technology has been applied to minimize the operational finance workload and enable finance to focus on helping drive business performance.

Asked about new roles, skills and career pathways is needed, 28 percent of Pakistan respondents said these were needed now, compared to 37 percent in Singapore and just 19 percent in the UK and Ireland. The global results at 22 percent suggest that finance needs to rethink its talent pipeline and invest significantly in people and their development.

Sajjad Aslam concluded: ‘The overall results from our core group of contacts in Pakistan show that they are aware of the challenges ahead and that there is a demand for change. Amidst all the change, there is a temptation to stall – but this cannot be an option. The speed of change for finance, the recognition of the need to redefine the culture and to be adaptable and flexible is essential for success. As leaders, we need to enable rather than control projects and embrace change as a natural course of events.

Brian Furness ended: ‘This report, and the survey and workshops which underpin it, show the fast pace of change in the finance world and the opportunity this brings for organizations and the people within them.  A people-centered approach is required to capitalize on this; a clear vision, collaboration and strong leadership.

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