The skills gap—the difference between what finance teams will need to compete and create organizational value and the skills they currently have—presents a challenge for enterprises. Yet it also offers an opportunity to rethink the role that finance plays and strengthen the importance of collaborating with IT and HR departments to keep companies competitive. Understanding how crucial it is to bridge the skills gap within finance teams, CFOs are investing in their people.
Yet the multifaceted challenge of hiring people with the skills necessary now and into the future is even larger during an era of labor shortages prompted by the Great Resignation. More than ever, employee experience is paramount to building—and retaining—a skilled and agile finance team.
What that means in practice is deploying user-friendly technology that provides finance professionals with intuitive, app-like interfaces that can reduce the complexity of the financial reporting process, as well as automating routine tasks. Consumer-like interfaces for finance employee tasks can also help CFOs attract and retain discerning tech-savvy people. Not surprisingly, nearly all (97%) CFOs who responded to the survey said technology was critical to attracting and retaining talent, and nearly half (48%) are actively looking to invest in such technology over the next five years.
Smart investments in technology include those in an “enterprise management cloud,” a term to describe the next generation of enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems. Moving to the cloud brings a variety of critical capabilities, including increased accessibility for remote workers, improved data visibility for stakeholders, and the elimination of silos to create a frictionless finance experience.
Meet the Finance Outperformers
While the trends we found from the survey’s respondents were valuable, the picture that emerges from those finance leaders with mature digital transformation efforts is worth considering as well. The key is data.
Among the CFOs who responded to the survey, a majority (58%) rated their ability to transform data into insights as “excellent,” identifying them as “finance outperformers.” The CFOs in this group greatly value data storytelling and have incorporated their enthusiasm for technology to leverage their teams’ abilities into a recruitment and retention strategy.
An overwhelming majority (70%) of finance outperformers said they plan to meet their future needs, at least in part, by training existing employees and helping grow their careers. The same percentage (70%) of respondents plan to rely on hiring, too.
Three other data points among this group of CFOs also stand out:
- 78% plan to add data governance and management skills or talent in the next five years.
- 71% want to continue investing in data science. By contrast, the 41% of CFOs who rated their data capabilities as “good” plan similar investments.
- 57% are looking at environmental, social, and governance (ESG) investments.
ESG and D&I: Continuing Focus
There’s no shortage of organizational priorities for today’s CFOs.
Talent and technology, with their many nuances, remain among the most important items vying for the attention of finance professionals. Yet diversity and inclusion (D&I) and ESG issues are still receiving high-level scrutiny, with more than half (57%) of all CFOs saying they’re a priority.
Naturally, it will become necessary for CFOs to have an accurate accounting of financial and non-financial data to understand ESG efforts and convey them to stakeholders, vendors, and regulators, not to mention providing the competitive advantage their organization can realize from ESG initiatives.