Under pressure from the pandemic fallout, CFOs in one global survey showed talent management, upskilling, future-proofing to be top priorities

In an online survey of 267 CFOs in Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, the US, France, Germany and the UK in Sep 2021 focused on private and public organizations with 500 to 5,000+ employees, respondents were “eager to invest in technologies to help retain and attract talent”, and there was a marked shift in the skills they were seeking in finance workers to future-proof organizations.

Also, the finance leaders polled were prioritizing new hires with prior AI and ML experience, as well as those with analytics and data storytelling skills—employee traits that CFOs were not searching for five years ago.

Other key survey findings include:

  • Prioritization of technology to help attract new hires

    Amid the Great Resignation, respondents were turning to technology to help improve the employee experience and attract finance talent.

    • ▶ Some 48% of respondents planned to invest in ‘consumer-like’ interfaces for finance tasks to attract future finance talent within the next five years.
    • ▶ Respondents saw automating accounting, reporting, and financial planning and analysis (FP&A) processes as ways to streamline workflows and give employees the ability to focus on strategic tasks and helps boost productivity.
    • ▶ Of the CFOs prioritizing this, 99% agreed to prompts that technology updates will become even more important for both attracting and retaining employees.
  • Increased demand for finance worker with deeper technology, data storytelling skills
    • ▶ 57% of respondents indicated they were searching for AI and ML skills in new hires
    • ▶ 40% of respondents were prioritizing analytics and data storytelling skills in new hires versus five years ago, hoping to enrich the finance team’s ability to act as a strategic business partner through the use of real-time reporting and analysis
  • Data-confident respondents embraced technology, continued to upskill their teams
    • ▶ 58% of respondents already rated their ability to turn data into insights as excellent. With a committed interest in maintaining this edge, 100% of this data-confident group of CFOs described technology as being “very or extremely important” to their future success in this fast-changing market.
    • ▶ 71% of this group also planned to close the gap on any new functions or capabilities they needed to add through upskilling as they looked to future-proof their teams.
  • Respondents remained focused on diversity and inclusivity and ESG
    • ▶ 57% of respondents were prioritizing attracting, upskilling, and retaining talent, yet not losing focus on diversity and inclusion or environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG).
    • ▶ Respondent from medium-sized enterprises felt less confident in these areas than their large enterprise counterparts, with twice as many citing they struggled with gaps in ESG
    • ▶ Unprecedented stress on supply chains and the environment had spurred respondents “to take action to secure the future of their enterprises”, and “to do right by their shareholders and customers”

According to Philippa Lawrence, Chief Accounting officer, Workday Inc., the firm that commissioned the study: “In this fast-changing world of work—with fierce external competition, labor shortages, and regulatory demands—the remit of the finance team is expanding rapidly,” and that CFOs “need to be ready and willing to invest in the technology and skills required to plug those gaps and future-proof their teams.”