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Published by Charlotte Taylor April 25 , 2017 10: 02 AM

No one can deny that the traditional number crunching component of the FD’s role is now just one of many core skills today.  

Financial competence is a given. The FD has long also needed  to oversee functions as broad as IT, property,  compliance and HR in addition to core day-to-day finance responsibilities. But now the role is shifting further, and faster. It is now less about managing functions and more about communicating strategies, negotiating mergers & acquisitions, innovating and future proofing. A real shift from simply being a "safe pair of hands" to proactive business leadership.

Acheiving this relies on a blend of the right tools, skills and focus.

 

 

Tags: planning, Finance DIrector Skill

It’s all in the plan

Never before has the competitive landscape, customer requirements, the legislative framework and technology changed so rapidly and so extensively. 2016 has underlined this more than most years, and there’s one guarantee for 2017, there will be some surprises, and I’m not just talking Trump’s 5am tweets!

No FD will want to discard the learnings of the past, but that aside, today’s FD must be forward thinking, focused on where the business is going and keeping ahead of change, using the latest information to make informed decisions and embracing new opportunities.

Indeed, the ACCA places ‘strategy validation, formulation’ at the top of the list of the technical knowledge needed by CFOs in the future. Although not a slave to the latest gizmos, the innovative FD recognises the benefits of strategically investing in planning systems which supports this process, with the ability to access relevant information, manipulate it, feed it into forecasting plans and drive strategic decisions.  

Rallying the troops.

Solutions can offer not only improved processes for businesses and finance but also the chance to become more inclusive and share the hopes dreams and plans of the business to its tribe of employees, stakeholders and investors.

Facilitating better access to information and feedback which informs the decision-making process is key to companies moving fast to exploit opportunity.

FDs are often presented with difficult and challenging choices. Gaining buy-in from above and below for difficult decisions or change, is key to business success. Whilst the FD will never lose sight of their core purpose, to effectively and securely manage finances, communication and rallying the troops is a skill that is increasing in importance.

So all this points to the need to be able to harness information, interrogate it, keep it relevant and share it easily and palatably.

 

Harnessing not harassed by data

In a recent CFO indicator report, it was highlighted that many felt data was their biggest challenge and yet offered powerful insight. Being able to gather the multitude of strands together and make sense of it all was critical to success.  

So data alone isn’t enough – in fact it can create more issues than it solves. Bad data is not only useless but sucks up resources in managing and manipulating it. The key here is to focus on what information is valuable, and stop being distracted by data that adds noting to your objectives. Fragmented strands of information (often held in siloes) needs to be pulled into formats and systems where it can be analysed and manipulated to add insight.  

It is important to understand what you want to see and why. Choosing tools which allow you to extract and translate information into different systems is critical.  Systems that don’t play well with others are becoming real barriers. API’s and integration programmes are what’s needed.

 

Lost in Translation

Reporting can have many aims, and formats. Gone are the pre-formatted tombs of information which rarely got read and made little sense to most.

Today reporting can be created for the audience it is intended for. Self-service, and pretty analytics are all high on the ‘need to have’ list for finance and many others in the organisation. It is a new way to communicate for those who are number phobic, and need a few pretty pictures to make sense of it all. Finance are now in a position where sharing information is critical to making change happen and good information in the right reporting structure is a key attribute.

 

So in conclusion, communicating efectively is critical to finance leaders. The capability of delivering this is in the tools and systems you choose. Next is the clarity and focus on what information is valuable and adds to your objectives, which is a skill. Next is to analyse this information to understand it’s impact and build your plans to reflect it. A core finance capability.  Next is to communicate these outcomes in a way that all understand and buy into the plan and strategic course. Need some help with that?   - give us a call.

 

 

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