How do Finance Directors bridge the gap on skills shortages without compromising on quality or delivery?

In a world increasingly dominated by digitalisation, geopolitical uncertainty, economic upheavals, and market disruption, the role played by the FP&A, Treasury, Tax, and Audit leaders is evolving.

Over the first half of this year, many of our clients based outside of London have struggled to recruit the calibre of individuals who will bring diversity of thought and new experiences to the leadership team. Norman Broadbent Interim has seen a 70% increase in demand for Interims with a strong pedigree in FP&A, Commercial Finance, Audit, and Finance Transformation. This demand has been linked with the requirement of Finance Directors to make significant improvements in areas such as business partnering, management information, and customer engagement.

With this evolution, the old qualifications and baselines, which firms once stood steadily upon, are quickly beginning to erode, and within the next few years, will be obsolete. In their place, organisations with an understanding of digitisation, risk management skills, and the ability to display high levels of ingenuity and innovation are critical to weather the storm of change.

Below, we highlight what we believe are the top factors that are shifting the focus of Audit, Tax, Treasury, and FP&A leaders from backroom data checkers to frontline digital transformers.

Governance, Risk, and Regulation

A recent report from Deloitte, that surveyed over 300 senior stakeholders, highlighted that value creation needs to be holistically integrated with Risk Management programs. The next 20 years of Digital Transformation will offer greater opportunity for future leaders to become effective risk managers, and risk management will become an integral aspect of future audit leaders, in particular. This will, in turn, drive a focus on individuals who possess the courage, intuition, and awareness to not only manage risk, but monitor both the economic reward and impact of risk, and aid in resource allocation and scenario planning.

The survey further revealed that the majority of organisations are beginning to find ways to generate value out of their risk management programs in a number of fields, particularly within customer loyalty. In the face of continued uncertainty and a number of immediate changes on the horizon, organisations believe their risk management will improve their ability to be cost effective. In a world dominated by uncertainty, discovering the best risk/reward value will be critical for an organisation’s growth.

Linked to this, is the requirement to embed sound corporate governance that tackles opportunities and threats to strategy, and can help deal with an ever-changing regulatory and compliance landscape.

For future Treasurers in particular, the day-to-day automation of their tasks will see their role within regulation and technology grow, shifting their focus from a predominantly technical role to that of a strategic business partner within the regulatory landscape.

Technology will only drive these changes further: as more accurate and predictive data becomes available, future Audit and Treasury Leaders will increasingly take on a front line role in their business, helping their firm avoid potential damages to both reputation and cash flow that can arise from sudden mismanagement or seismic regulatory changes.


Reporting, Financial Planning, and Analysis

As Digital Transformation sweeps across firms, reporting is moving onto a new level, with more decision-friendly business intelligence being utilised, which provides critical insights on performance trends that are developing. Old reporting methodologies are giving way to outcome driven ideologies, highly connected to their corporate strategy.

For firms experiencing rapid growth, a chief concern is the “technical debt” they suffer, due to legacy systems holding them back. With an increased need for accurate and predictive data reading, businesses increasingly need to embrace the digitalisation wave in order to future proof their organisation. Grant Thornton witnessed this in a survey, which found that 69% of senior financial leaders plan to increase their investment in technologies that speed business change. In order for FP&A leaders, in particular, to remain regarded as trusted advisors of organisations in making the key strategic and operational decisions they are required to, need more than ever to have an in-depth understanding of these digital advances. In a world dominated by change and uncertainty, accurate data is required to aid in charting the financial course of the business.

Digital Transformation and Diversity of Thought

The all-encompassing factor which will shape the future of all roles, will be that of Digital Transformation and Technology. Gone is the image of the Auditor or FP&A reporter hunched over a pile of documents, scanning through numbers after numbers. It has now been replaced with the slick, quick, and brutally efficient mechanisms that can provide up to date, predictive data. This dynamic technology has provided them with the resources to work smarter and more effectively.

The future treasury, audit, tax and FP&A leaders will need to be able to integrate these dynamic technologies into their reporting processes, and be able to provide their firm with up to date analysis. This, combined with a world increasingly under the grip of uncertainty and market upheaval, has seen these technologies rapidly develop, pushing the demand for leaders who possess the intuition and experience to quickly integrate these systems seamlessly into the business.

Digital Transformation is, of course, paramount to a business looking to remain competitive, and this will only increase over the next few years. Data management and analysis will be more integral than ever but the kind of data analysis will change. Future leaders will be expected to be intuitive, forward-thinking, and experienced in these systems, but also possess a forward-thinking and intuitive mentality that perhaps was not previously required. Tomorrow’s Treasurers will no longer be expected to come solely from a finance background; the role will open up to those within IT too.

In line with Digital Transformation, firms will seek to encourage a cultural shift towards seeing the value in digital advances, and will seek to ensure future leaders can champion these values within the business.

Norman Broadbent Interim have seen this shift in behaviour, with clients challenging their own thought process of historically opting for secondees from Big 4 Accountancy firms. Finance Directors are increasingly using Interim managers to save costs, improve knowledge transfer, and upskill their current workforce on best in core skill areas, such as Treasury, Tax, Audit, and Commercial Finance.

With such an increase in the influx of data, the need to distinguish the signal from the noise will only grow in the future, and the ability to coherently and effectively convey this information to shareholders and those at c-suite level, will be key in the decision-making processes that takes place on the back of this information.

Many clients have commented that they have experienced high recruitment costs and are losing members of staff over a 12-month period due to wrong cultural fit not being right or the role they were recruited for does now not reflect the individual’s abilities, as business continues to evolve at such a dramatic rate. Finance leaders have to be agile and have the ability to cope with the pace of change, which for many, is often too great.

To find out how Norman Broadbent Interim Management could help your business, or to discuss this topic further, please contact Jonathan Stringer, Head of CFO Practice, for an initial and confidential conversation.

Jonathan Stringer
DDI: +44 (0) 020 7484 0036