Does Your Finance Team Have the Skills to Succeed in an Increasingly Digital World?

The trend toward adopting a more digital workplace has been marching steadily forward for decades. Paperless offices and digital collaboration have increased exponentially in recent years. But nothing could have prepared most companies for the massive shift to digital in 2020 that was required because of the pandemic. Even companies with an already-impressive digital environment struggled to shift their operations completely in a short amount of time.

But the truth of the matter is that most of these companies weren’t leveraging existing technologies in ways that fulfilled their full potential. Just last year, nearly two-thirds of CEOs reported not feeling that their companies were being driven by analytics—yet analytics are one of our best tools for making smart, data-driven decisions about operations. While that statement was important even just a year ago, it’s now more critical than ever. The pandemic is forcing most companies to operate more efficiently and effectively than ever before—or become one of the thousands of companies that’s closed permanently in the wake of the pandemic.

This precarious business climate means that your team needs to be operating at peak performance, especially your finance team. Understanding financial data and operations requires much more sophistication and nuanced knowledge than it has in the past.

Many new skill sets are becoming increasingly important for professionals in all types of financial positions, including, but not limited to, those in finance and accounting, collections, payroll and accounts payable/receivable, controllers, financial analysts, tax and audit professionals, mortgage financing roles, and business reporting.

Companies are at a moment of truth; they must take a hard and critical look at their current teams and determine whether they have the skills to meet the challenges of today’s workplace. And the challenges are significant, including navigating the onslaught of evolving technology and platforms, determining how to optimize digital work, and embracing an agile financial operating model. Without creating a team that demonstrates proficiency in the following skill areas, it will be increasingly difficult to find continued success.

Change Management Reporting

At the heart of any discussion about modern skill sets is the idea that change management will guide you on how to prepare and shape your team members to drive success and achieve good outcomes. In today’s market, this requires rapid transformation and high adaptability. It also requires strong leadership and reliable reporting/outcomes. Change management reporting is complex; it addresses organizational and individual performance and enables you to make smart decisions to ensure optimal future performance.

Data Acumen (Interpretation/Visualization)

There’s no escaping data in today’s business landscape. It’s everywhere. Big data enables you to obtain metrics on nearly any dimension. While data is pervasive, it still takes a high degree of skill to go through all that data, pull out the most important points, make connections between the findings and your operations, and determine what that might mean for your company’s future. Data visualization simplifies this process by showing graphical representations to help understand the data better, which is an ideal way to depict financial information. This skill is vital within your financial team, and it will only continue to grow in importance.

Mixed Operational Models

Remote working became the norm during early 2020 and for many companies, this change will be permanent. Others will use a blend of remote and in-person attendance depending on their company’s needs. In addition to this, many companies are in the process of automating certain operations. The result is that companies are going to have complex operational models that might include physical locations, a remote workforce, and even some temporary, freelance, or contract workers. Financial professionals need to have a strong understanding of how to be effective—and possibly manage—these different types of relationships. Finance teams must adapt and learn quickly to feel comfortable with more digital technologies and platforms than ever before, and understand how to build relationships with key team members no matter where they’re working. While there’s a prevailing assumption that many finance operations are already digital, only about one-third of the finance activities that could be automated currently are. This means there will be a steep learning curve for most finance professionals.

Shifting the Mentality from Specialist to Strategist

The finance industry, along with human resources, has historically been composed of specialists. Certain individuals handled specific tasks, no questions asked. Today, many of these tasks are automated or completed in a self-service model. This change allows financial professionals to break away from the daily tasks (such as those related to accounts payable and receivable), provide oversight when one needs guidance, and assist the company’s leadership with more strategic decisions. To do this successfully, financial professionals will need to brush up on their problem-solving abilities, negotiate, and provide essential financial insights to leadership to steer their companies in the right direction.

Resiliency & Adaptability

If the pandemic has proved anything, it’s demonstrated just how valuable resiliency and adaptability are. Companies that have been able to embrace change and respond quickly have often fared far better than those that weren’t as nimble. With an incredibly uncertain future ahead of us, these traits will continue to be important elements of any successful team. And as new challenges present themselves, financial professionals committed to forging ahead and reimagining operations that meet the changing needs of the market will continue to stay one step ahead of their competitors.

Enterprise Resource Planning

Technology is evolving faster than ever, integrating elements such as automation, blockchain, and artificial intelligence. With the right resources, you can stay highly competitive, but the enterprise resources will continue to evolve and resource planning must be constant. It’s up to the financial team to help the rest of the company understand and consider the costs and benefits of different resources. This process is the only way that companies can be sure to select the optimal resources.

Creating Your Team

These are just a few of the most crucial skill sets your finance team should have, although the landscape is continuing to advance and change. However, identifying what you want in a team is much easier than identifying who you need to hire to have a robust and effective financial team. Hunter Hollis can help you assess your current team, identify your needs, and screen candidates so that you’ll have the best pool of potential candidates available. Our experts can be powerful allies in your quest to build a financial team that can meet the changing needs of today’s market. 

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