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Understanding the Future of Finance

From informing strategic decisions in the boardroom to risk and stakeholder management, the finance function’s role has grown far beyond providing just monetary and reporting experience. Successful finance leaders possess diverse skill sets and now serve as strategic advisors to the business.

Increasing efficiency and identifying value opportunities are often evergreen priorities for the modern finance leader. They’re especially pertinent now. For finance to remain relevant, business leaders should apply these time-tested skills to a host of new technologies. Finance leaders also work with CHROs to shepherd workforces through the rollout of new solutions and ways of working, upskilling their teams with a people-first mindset.Companies often look to new technologies to help streamline processes, reduce costs and create new opportunities for topline revenue growth. Many, however, fail to take advantage of the possibilities available with their existing technologies.

Case in point: Moving apps and repositories to cloud from on-premises data centers can help reduce costs, but the benefits don’t have to end there. Finance leaders should think about how connecting their data can save them money or even uncover new growth opportunities — for instance, by linking previously siloed and potentially duplicative reporting abilities or uniting ERP and third-party data with forecasting models. By going beyond digital, finance functions can concentrate on what they learn from early adopters and where their priorities should be after moving to cloud.

Financial leaders can further benefit from having a cloud- and data-first mentality about tech infrastructure. No existing or acquired data repository is perfect, but layering new data solutions onto existing infrastructure can help you standardize your data. That way everyone’s talking about the same things in the same way. Leveraging these cloud benefits in unison can create an integrated source of truth for many finance functions to draw from.Recent technological breakthroughs in generative AI (GenAI) have been staggering. But in a recent PwC webcast on the power of GenAI in finance, only about 16% of the nearly 6,000 attendees said their departments were piloting GenAI programs, and just 4% said their companies have already initiated mass rollouts. More than 42% said they haven’t even begun implementing GenAI at all.

Finance can play a key role in your company’s GenAI strategy. Making sure businesses get the most out of their investments requires that companies build in responsible AI practices from the outset and work with CHROs to engage and upskill employees to actively reshape how work gets done.Companies often face complex challenges from external business and market environments. Geopolitical conflict, supply chain challenges, inflation and market volatility, intense competition, labor shortages, regulatory change, rapidly changing technology — many of these factors heighten risks across industries. Such turbulence requires improved enterprise strategy development, planning, budgeting and forecasting, and these can create opportunities for finance functions to lead their companies through uncertainty.

Financial planning and analysis teams remain the natural owners of plans and forecasts within a company. Tried and true techniques like sensitivity analysis and scenario planning can help you understand how various business environments or market outcomes could affect company performance. Yes, your FP&A should maintain “base case” plans, but they should also identify alternative scenarios to better understand the impact of various risk cases. The function can then work across the enterprise to develop contingency plans for reacting to these “tail” scenarios, making sure their companies not only survive but thrive during market change.

Likewise, finance’s talent and experience with complex reporting techniques can help lead businesses as they evolve nonfinancial reporting. Climate and sustainability reporting can have many overlapping needs with similar processes in tax and statutory, and may benefit from comparable solutions derived by finance’s extant and rigorous reporting standards. Controllers especially should dedicate resources to support these emerging reporting requirements, collaborating across functions to build solutions.

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