As a leader or future leader of the accounting and finance team at your organization you must play a prominent role in what is coming next. Your CEO, your Executive Director, your Board will expect more from your team than reporting the results from the previous month faster, projecting your cash position 30 days out based on recorded AR and AP, or meeting your filing deadlines on time. They will want your help to create a better customer experience, predict market changes based on current trends in demand, and recommend investment opportunities.
But how will you do this? You need to change your mindset. A mindset that recognizes:
- Technology will lead the way. It really does start with technology. The increased availability of cloud computing, enterprise SaaS, unlimited computing power, mobile and social, big data, and real-time analytics have significantly transformed what the office of the CFO looks like, what its priorities and purview are, and the value it brings to the organization. The future of finance and accounting will include an ever-increasing adoption of technology not only to do things better, faster, and cheaper, but to radically change the value F&A brings to an organization, and how it is perceived. This will require a really good plan!
- The CFO will become the true CIO – The poorly-titled “Chief Information Officer” role will be taken over by the CFO and will become a true Chief Information Officer. The original CIO was more about the technology than the information. The CFO will win the battle currently being waged between the two roles for stewardship of each organizations’ most important assets: data, information, and intelligence. This will require the right technology.
- The scope of responsibility will expand across the team – Traditionally, finance and accounting’s focus was limited to internal financial data, accounting, and reporting. Debits and credits. Dollars and cents. And the focus was on the accuracy of historical data, compliance with accounting and reporting standards, regulatory compliance with things like tax and other laws, and risk management. The forward-looking CFO will help the organization see into the future as opposed to counting the past. The CFO will be an innovator, looking for new sources of information, new ways to predict the future, and new ways to create competitive advantage for the organization. This will require you to be a forward-thinking CFO or finance leader.
- The focus will be on outcomes – The traditional accounting and finance organization was focused on “how” outcomes were achieved. Audit workpapers with multiple levels of review, month-end close checklists (or month-end closes altogether), period-end external audits, manual account reconciliations, the 3-way match, and file cabinets full of vendor invoices will be obsolete in the future of finance and accounting. Modern and forward-thinking accounting and finance leaders will learn to focus on achievement of the outcomes more than how they are achieved. This will require you to be a digital savvy, information-focused leader.
- Ownership of transaction processing will be transferred. The greater focus on outcomes vs. methods will eventually lead to the ultimate future of finance and accounting: Managed Accounting Services or Finance-as-a-Service. Organizations like oil & gas operators, professional services organizations, churches, and non-profits are all realizing not only are they not “software companies” and shouldn’t be in the business of running software, but they are also not “accounting companies” and don’t need to run accounting shops. This will allow them to focus on their highest and best use - their own unique value proposition, without all the distractions of managing transaction processing. Organizations will get better finance & accounting, without having to do finance & accounting. And this will also require you to be forward-looking CFOs and and to find trusted providers
At AcctTwo, we're building our entire organization around the goal of delivering the future of finance and accounting to our customers. The technology and services we provide, the way we sell, market, deliver and support those offerings - everything is aligned around this goal. Stay tuned for a continued focus on this concept and what it means to us. But, more importantly, what does it mean to you? I encourage you to share you thoughts on the future of finance and accounting with us. Write a blog for us or simply send us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.