“I’m talking to the business partners, understanding the business, trying to drive great insights, using our analytical knowledge—one of those very important skills for accountants,” she said. “Now we’re in the front office, and it’s a change in mindset. . . . To go where no accountants have gone before and try and figure out the best way to automate something, the best way to support the business, and anticipate needs.”
Lawrence said her ability to deliver timely, accurate, and relevant information to the business and to the CFO remains paramount. “What has changed is our expectations,” she added. “What is timely with digital acceleration? That’s the expectation—and may I say, demand—that we get data sooner.”
The CAO’s role is to support the CFO by ensuring they have the timely numbers to do their job in the most effective way, Lawrence said, adding, “As a CAO, I don’t just own the numbers, I have to understand the why behind the numbers. That’s where the fun starts.”
That perspective comes from strong partnerships within the business, from knowing the sources of data, and from developing ways to extract important information from the data using flexible data models.
Finance Transformation Creates New Expectations
Lawrence described keeping an eye on both financial and operational metrics, especially at the outset of the pandemic when some customers needed extra flexibility.
Combined with a dynamic risk scoring based on systematic weighting of credit risk scores and customer collections data, her team was able to identify which accounts needed attention and prompted representatives to reach out and say, “Hey, what can we do to help?”