Key actions CFOs can take to build and nurture a finance team for the future

April 19, 2023

Finance leaders envision a future for the industry that is digital, scalable and data-focused. CFOs must reshape the digital aspect to be capable of attracting and retaining the next wave of talent in finance.

Planning for AI

CFOs have bold plans to enable the future vision of autonomous finance, An AI-driven finance service that delivers data when requested, is scalable, digital and capable of solving complex problems. To support these plans CFOs are transforming business structures, roles and skills to create a place where AI and digital talent can progress. By 2025, 40% of finance roles will be new or significantly altered due to the influence of financial technology.

With over 70% of finance, leaders expected to increase AI staffing, the demand for AI talent will inevitably increase, along with pay expectations and time to hire. CFOs planning to stay ahead of the competition will likely focus on developing digital skills, enhancing their finance IT talent and improving financial data literacy.

With increases in AI and staffing, efficiency will also rise, creating opportunities for finance to influence business strategy, data reporting and compliance. From an accounting perspective, AI models have decreased reconciliation time and have improved error detection. For financial analysis, leading companies are implementing AI to generate cash-flow forecasts. These developments will enable finance teams to allocate their time towards more specialised functions and allow automation to handle more routine tasks. The challenge, however, is the lack of talent. Studies suggest that two of three finance leaders believe the digital skills gap is increasing.

Delivering Core Competencies

A business lacking digital capabilities will keep a finance team from utilising the potential of autonomous finance. Finance can allow teams to work more efficiently, creating valued insights and investing in digital skills. Utilise these technologies requires:

Technological literacy – using digital tech to generate better outcomes for finance and the entire business
Digital Translation – the ability to recognise how digital tech connects with finance and associated processes and systems.
Digital learning and development – the ability to implement new digital learning requirements within a new learning environment.
Digital bias management – understanding and articulating bias in machine learning and managing the risk of this.
Digital ambition – the motivation to embrace technology and implement new ways of working.

A shared belief among finance leaders is that skills in core digital require considerable technology-based skills, knowledge and abilities. Studies suggest that over 60% of finance leaders believe their teams cannot effectively use digital technologies, and only 23% of finance leaders consider their teams proficient with these five digital competencies.

Successful CFOs expand digital skills by educating finance staff on these competencies and ensuring finance leaders display examples of how these competencies look to the team in their organisation.

Nurturing AI talent

Whether a business is upskilling its existing talent or looking to recruit, CFOs must significantly reconsider the finance employee value proposition and the culture to attract and retain the best digital talent. Top AI talent must feel a strong sense of belonging within the finance function. Despite a rise in digital talent within finance, CFOs may consider old assumptions about this talent’s work preferences which can impact the overall success and potential attrition of digital finance talent.

CFOs can nurture the best talent by supporting a work-life balance to avoid potential burnout. According to studies, digital finance talent often prefers to work on their own time. Over 60% of digital finance talent claim to do at least 20% of their work outside of normal core working hours. Successful CFOs will view the benefits of offering flexible hours, including improved engagement and productivity. Furthermore, digital finance talent like collaborating with others, opening the opportunity to increase productivity by combining digital with core finance talent.

Discovering the best data science talent is critical to developing an AI-focused finance business. CFOS must take a ‘build it, and they will come’ strategy, building an organisation defined by innovative analytical tools, valuable data, clear learning opportunities and a structured career pathway.

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