Modern skills of a Finance professional
CFOs and their Finance functions have a clear opportunity to ensure that they remain a highly relevant, flexible department that supports business growth at a time when there is an ever more pressing need to react quickly.
And if finance is to achieve its true potential it requires strong leadership.
The adaptive Finance function
Finance needs to be agile. Forward thinking CFOs are developing agility in order to support the business to develop long-term strategies for profitable growth and sustainability in a rapidly changing market. While not losing focus on cost and efficiency, Finance leaders must recognize that improvements to the way the function operates internally will have much less impact than solving business problems and delivering increased value to stakeholders. This means creating the space to think more broadly about what the business needs and how Finance will operate in future.
When transactions are instantaneous, rapid decision making based on up to the minute information is of paramount importance: the business cannot wait a month for Finance to catch up. Many organizations now expect Finance to be involved in decision-making beyond its traditional realm. In today’s faster, more agile business environment, organizations need decision support, particularly from Finance, more than ever before.
Review, review, review
But how exactly can the Finance function of the future satisfy various stakeholders, and also gather, analyze and explain metrics – both traditional inputs and new data – and participate in more complex planning and budgeting?
The first step is knowledge.
Finance leaders need to gather details of every penny that leaves the company, who it goes to, what it's for, what spending is overdue, when current and future payments are due. These are just examples of the more obvious things that need to be managed…but they are just the tip of the iceberg.
Finance also needs to review the terms with suppliers, which suppliers are responsible for the bulk of spend, the agreements or contracts in place and the associated risks.
Ideally, modern Finance functions will have the tools, and staff, in place to get a handle on financial and cashflow operations. If the team is in a position to make the necessary changes to reduce risk, renegotiate payment arrangements, and remove roadblocks in the process, for example, this is the first step to improving the bottom line.