Why Haven’t the Tools We Use?
The role of the CFO has evolved from a focus on governance to being a more strategic leader of the business. CFOs must do more than ever before, with fewer resources and the same outdated technology. In a world of economic uncertainty and a shrinking talent pool, CFOs must have dynamic tools to match their environment.
Learn how modern technology can help finance teams outpace the rapidly changing world with tips from CFOs Christine Peart (Fluence Technologies), Grant Grigorian (CarSaver), and Robert Kunihiro (The CFO Centre Canada) in a webinar hosted by Fluence Technologies and moderated by Fluence CMO Marisa Ruffles.
Below are some of the highlights and key takeaways from the webinar. Watch the full webinar to learn more from our panel of CFOs.
What changes have you witnessed in corporate finance over the past few years?
Over the last few years, businesses have navigated from one unpredictable event to the next. When COVID hit, supply chains ceased, and some suppliers didn’t make it through. We operated the business through daily crisis meetings. Shutting down was not an option. The key was for finance to provide critical data on which to base our daily decisions. Our legacy ERP system was of limited value because it was inflexible and incapable of adapting to the timelines that we required.
Finding quality talent is an issue. Fewer people are going into accounting as a major. We have a mass exodus of people who have left the profession. It has become a challenge for companies and vendors to hire resources that want to stay and do the work.
How has your role as a CFO evolved?
Finance used to be all about closing the books. Today, the finance team is responsible for way more: HR, legal function, and compliance reporting. I have a greater operational view throughout the business and partner with different groups in new ways.
Today, funding and treasury are even more integral than they were before. There are many types of funding sources available that were not in the past. Now, we must look at all of them and decide which ones to take advantage of. The role is expanded. There are different hurdles: operational issues, accounting standards, and more compliance items.
Historically, my role was primarily focused on process improvement, manufacturing, pricing, and quoting strategy. During large shifts such as COVID, my role as a CFO became the number two in the organization. Today, CFOs need to be able to operate within ambiguity. Sometimes, the speed of producing performance measurements is more important than absolute accuracy and precision delivered late. The CFO is now part of a 2-person leadership team with the CEO.
What are your tips for finance leaders to modernize their approach to technology?
We have to prioritize our teams. The healthier our teams are, the greater the positive impact we have on the organization. The only way we are going to be able to do that is by embracing the right technology.
Finance team leaders have to help drive the business by keeping a focus on the key priorities and deciding what gets done. There are too many competing items that divert resources and focus. Making sure the finance and operating teams are focused and kept accountable will help implement any change required for the team.
It makes sense to use a cloud-based solution that’s simple enough for most of the finance team to operate and be able to take full ownership of.
How should CFOs navigate challenges like expanding roles, shrinking talent pools, increased reporting and data demands, and volatile economic conditions?
My final advice to CFOs is to accept that we operate in a very different environment than 20 years ago. Everything happens faster and to greater extremes. You need to be adaptable and remember the critical leadership role you hold within your organization: take charge.
Business is much more competitive than it has been in the past. Information and availability have allowed new organizations to disrupt industries. If you don’t have the tools to be able to mine this information and use it effectively, you’re going to be left behind. The challenge ahead is to make the right investments in the tools you need to keep your business a step ahead of everybody else.
We live in an information-savvy world. Finance and accounting need to be actionable and must have readily available information at our fingertips. We can’t do that without the right technology.
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