While not all of the predictions have been fully realised, there's no escaping the fact that finance, and the nature of business as a whole, has changed significantly in the last ten years. Influenced by the rise of global markets, giant advances in technology and changes in the investment landscape, the finance function of today is much more than the "beancounter" of the past.
Rodger Hill Partner and head of KPMG UK's Finance Management team said: "Finance still needs to provide insight to the rest of the organisation, ensure effective control and risk management and drive its own and the organisation's efficiency. Looking ahead to 2020, we expect these objectives to remain the same. What will be different, however, is the proportion of time and effort spent on each and how they are delivered."
"Over the past ten years, we have seen the collapse of Enron and the massive knock-on impact of Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX) on risk management; we've witnessed the stealthy pace of globalisation and the rise of the emerging markets. Each of these events provided huge challenges to the business environment and has driven change right across the finance function," continued Hill.
In response, finance focused much of its efforts and change activity on creating a robust financial control environment and leveraging global cost saving opportunities through the creation of transaction-based shared service centres.
"As a consequence, finance ended up with less time to undertake its insight role and to proactively drive financial performance. Now, increasingly aware of this lack of focus, organisations are seeking to recover this lost time by embedding financial controls in technology and refocusing team efforts on enhancing financial performance management," said Hill.
The 2020 challenge According to KPMG's paper, by 2020 finance will have become "decision-support" staff or "business partners". Unfortunately today many of the skills and capabilities to undertake these new roles are missing. Over the next 12 years finance professionals need to be converted from spending 85 percent of their time extracting financial data and 15 percent adding insight, to 95 percent of their time adding insight. To achieve this they need additional training and support.
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