Current pandemic and climate sustainability concerns will shape the Finance & Accounting industry in three ways

In the coming year, three trends for the Finance & Accounting (F&A) industry are taking shape.

All of them are linked in one way or other to the environment, vis-à-vis the current pandemic and climate change issues.

Here are the trends in detail:

  • Increasingly adoption of the hybrid work model

    During this year of uncertainty, finance staff at many organizations pulled off the impossible. They were able to effectively close the books on time and even take a stab at earnings forecasts—from their homes.

    Having proved their mettle, F&A staff (and other knowledge workers) in the future will continue to seek employment opportunities that adhere to the ‘work from anywhere’ model.

    As this model takes a firmer hold in 2022, organizations will have to build up their remote-working offerings. This could involve investing in tools and technologies that help their F&A employees execute work tasks and better manage their time, whether it be automation for repetitive, time-consuming tasks, or collaboration tools that help teams find more productive and enjoyable ways to connect.

    Meanwhile, finance staff will have a greater voice in their company’s positions on issues like diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging (DEIB) and environmental, social and governance (ESG). In these regards, CFOs will seek people with traditional financial skills, in addition to interpersonal skills like leadership, empathy, and adaptability, and cognitive skills like critical thinking, project management and decision-making.

    According to BlackLine’s latest data, one of the biggest challenges business leaders and finance professionals in Singapore faced when recruiting future talent was not offering remote- or hybrid-working arrangements (30%).

  • Corporations will seek more insightful business intelligence for decision-making

    In 2022, CFOs will look to recruit talent with a combination of both traditional F&A proficiencies and broad-based software and technology skills.

    The latest Singapore survey from BlackLine indicated that financial systems integration (43%), intelligent automation (38%) and finance automation solutions (36%) were the top three technological skills business leaders and finance professionals mentioned as necessities beyond traditional F&A qualifications.

    It will be increasingly pertinent for F&A professionals to have a multidisciplinary approach in their jobs: one without the other is ineffective to reach or surpass tomorrow’s desired standard of performance.

    The next stages of digital transformation will drive this growing demand for multi-skilled F&A talent. Finance teams will be tasked with advising colleagues across functions on the strategic meaning of real-time financial metrics like revenues, capital availability, liquidity and net profit, as well as more subjective metrics like pipeline aging, on-time deliveries, days sales outstanding, customer satisfaction and employee engagement.

    Here are the five most important skills identified:

    • A strong understanding of risk management
    • The ability to use new software or technology
    • The ability to communicate complex financial information to different stakeholders
    • A strong understanding of financial best practices
    • The ability to collaborate with colleagues from other functions

    Since each function produces its own data, finance organizations will be tasked with using machine learning and other cognitive computing tools to assess this data in relation to real-time financial information. To convert wide-ranging performance data into insights for each function’s decision-making needs, the finance organization will increasingly encompass individuals with broad business knowledge and technology skills.

  • CFOs will have an expanded role to include ESG oversight

    It is vital for organizations to embrace global environmental, social and governance (ESG) movements to remain competitive.

    The rising interest in ESG investments is prompting governments to actively pursue sustainable finance in a bid to drive long-term sustainable economic growth. This includes having financial institutions make climate-related disclosures. This can affect non-financial institutions and will require CFOs to help drive the sustainability imperative.

    As the business and strategic partner to the CEO, CFOs will step up to become the executive sponsor of their organization’s ESG initiatives. These include developing the governance structure and control environment for the organization’s ESG factors and risks, while providing oversight, monitoring and accountability.

    CFOs are the logical candidate to lead the ESG initiative. Their responsibilities already entail ensuring that the financial report is accurate, complete and verifiable, according to GAAP accounting standards and disclosures. Given their knowledge of GAAP and how to prepare a financial statement, CFOs will ensure that ESG data receives the same attention and care as other financial data reported in the financial statement.