“Finance leaders must look keenly at the skills profile, as well as ongoing training and education (including exposure to new technologies), career development, and performance measurement and rewards for each finance role on the team,” says the report. “For example, the leader of a finance factory will need to have skills and experience in driving process excellence through lean techniques and state-of-the-art technologies. This is a very different profile from that of an economist in the forecasting center of excellence, whose skills and experience may be in analyzing and modeling changes to the business model, such as the introduction of new digital services and products.”
Data scientists may also play a critical role on finance teams, helping to interpret and analyze data. The “The DNA of the CFO 2016” study suggests what skills finance leaders should look for: “Look beyond traditional financial analysis skills. Data gurus—such as statisticians and data scientists, and even behavioral scientists—will be critical in helping the finance function of the future turn data into fresh perspectives and strategic insight.”
Organizations can also look to develop these skills from within the current finance team, but it may require more than traditional training approaches. “Most finance leaders cannot simply place their teams back in math class to ramp up their skills in data analytics,” says Greg Acevedo, business development manager for Workday Financial Management at Alight Solutions. “While formal training is an option, finance organizations can also prioritize group projects, brainstorming and collaboration sessions, and job rotations all while encouraging feedback throughout in an effort to find and develop important skills.”
Qureshi also highlighted the importance of giving employees experiences in other parts of the business. “Start with targeted high-potential recruitment and put these employees and selected others into rotational programs with other functions and business units. This builds links of business, finance, and cross functional acumen and teaming skills,” he says.
Organizations should also consider demographic changes in the workforce and how that could impact the way they recruit and retain talent. By 2025, millennials will comprise 75 percent of the workforce. This generation has different values and needs, and desire new experiences and opportunities to learn—the traditional finance career path may no longer be enough.
Success of the future finance function will come from having both the right technology and the right talent and skillsets. Now is the time to explore if your finance team is ready and what will be needed to support the future needs of the business.
For an in-depth look at the most important skills and capabilities required of the CFO of the future, read our feature story.