During the second half of 2014, CFOs will experience a few significant priority shifts that are expected to impact the nature of financial management for the next several years. Most of these trends have been underway for some time and reflect the ongoing evolution of technology and the broad shifts occurring in the financial labor market.
Three of the top trends that will require CFO attention in 2014 include the growing influence of big data, new internal regulatory controls, and a rising skills gap that may present obstacles to effective hiring.
Making the Most of Big Data
In an earlier era, a larger percentage of CFO decision making happened from the gut, and shifts in company direction and financial priorities were based on experience, educated guesses, close scrutiny of the marketplace, hindsight, and shared wisdom. But as huge volumes of data provide new inputs and variables, CFOs and their teams can use this rolling stream of indicators to gain a competitive edge.
The ability to collect and analyze granular data on everything from target markets for new product rollouts, to investment outcomes, to lending practices, to staffing will mean greater reliance on current and previous trends during the decision making process.
By December of 2014, official updates will be made to the internal controls framework used by most companies. The regulatory environment is undergoing a shift that will lead to greater accountability and tougher audits, and the new framework is expected to include a new set of both internal and external financial controls. As the new structure is made available, CFOs will need to bring their compliance teams up to speed and then begin building awareness and support among senior managers and the rest of their organizations.
As the talent marketplace shifts and university course outlines stay essentially the same, a growing skills gap is appearing between recent accounting graduates and the needs of their potential employers. Technical accounting skills were once the primary determinant of candidate value, but at this point, employers need much more; they need business skills, social skills, and a complete understand of how the branches of a company fit together, including HR, IT, operations, marketing and production. Accountants need to make business decisions that take multiple complex factors into account, and most graduating students simply aren’t prepared for this challenge.
CFOs can identify true talent by looking for CMA certification and shaping the interview and selection process, and companies can begin partnering with universities to expand the depth and breadth of accounting coursework.
For more information on the changing landscape for accountants and CFOs, contact the financial staffing experts at Cordia.