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Future of Work

Why financial leaders need to take charge of their upskilling

Upskilling isn’t just about getting that promotion; it could mean career survival (or not).

With technology constantly accelerating alongside uncertain times in the business environment, CFOs need to elevate their skills and responsibilities to be more strategic and forward-thinking than ever before. They need to drive new initiatives throughout the entire company for the business to stay competitive and well-prepared for the future.

Let’s take a look at some of the areas that CFOs (and aspiring CFOs) need to continuously upskill.

1. Digitalisation 

Artificial intelligence, robotic processing automation, machine learning, and cognitive technology are all transforming the way we work. And it makes sense; when employees can place a coffee order via an app, you better believe your employees need (and expect) the same experience when it comes to performing tasks for work.

Financial directors, CFOs and alike need to upskill their understanding of the impact of digitalisation to lead digital growth throughout the company.

Whether it’s a project management tool, like Notion to help with document sharing and tasks ownership or a business spending solution, like Pleo that makes buying things for work quick and easy for everyone, CFOs need to take the initiative to research what’s out there and what would take care of the business needs.

2. Data analysis 

As a CFO, numbers are your friends. It’s your job to use the organisation’s data to forecast sales, cash flow and revenue. And surprise! Digitalisation plays a big part in this area as well.

Things move quickly these days, and even more so when you’re a business that’s growing rapidly. You don’t have time to waste manually inputting data, not to mention reworking possible errors (we’re only human after all).

Because much of the accounting and finance workload can now be automated, it’s up to you to be aware of the latest business intelligence tools and technologies, like machine learning and predictive analysis. Choosing the right tool is crucial, as it can leave you more time for observation and analysis in order to make the right business decisions.

Which ties nicely into the next skill …

3. Financial storytelling  

A CFO’s role no longer lies in spreadsheets and numbers alone. Financial leaders need to have communication and collaboration chops alongside their data analysis skills in order to make financial performance accessible to everyone.

Why? Well, to ensure that each and every employee in the business is working towards the same goal and understands the part they play it. And get this - 82% of employees are actually interested in their company’s financial performance.

Annual revenue, monthly outgoings, new sales… these numbers are often kept behind closed doors. But why keep these to yourself when relaying this information can do wonders for productivity?

Chris, from Sales, needs to understand that when he gets a new customer, no matter how small, he’s bringing the business a little bit closer to achieving the goals that have been set.

Setting but also successfully communicating the company strategy focus ensures that everyone has financial awareness around the common financial KPIs and encourages people to know the current financial status of the business – uniting your people to work together to achieve the goals you’ve set and thinking about the future. 

4. Scenario planning and forecasting 

It’s never been more important to be forward-thinking, especially when it comes to company finances. And enhancing your forecasting skills is one to develop a deep understanding of what makes the business tick.

Financial leaders need to leverage all that data and (there is it again!) digital tools to achieve this.

Choose a solution that can integrate with other systems you’re using, like an ERP system. Make sure it’s easy to adjust specific variables in order to see different possible scenarios. Using this type of information will improve the accuracy and quality of your financial models and make planning and budgeting for your business easier.

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