Technology is fast-changing the traditional finance function and finance leaders have no choice but to prioritise digital transformation to keep up with the expected pace. 

A recent UK study by Hays shows that a large proportion of companies do not have the future finance skills they need to thrive. 

But do finance teams have the right skills and competencies to cope with this accelerated move to automation and digitisation? Or are there some large skills gaps that need to be addressed for future finance teams to succeed? 

Here are the top skills needed to navigate the future of digital finance.

  1. Automation and Technology

As digital processes replace traditional manual ones, finance teams must be knowledgeable about software and technology.

Sophisticated automation tools – Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning (ML) and Robotic Process Automation (RPO) – fundamentally change how finance operates.  They enable teams to deliver higher-value output because they replace time-consuming, manual tasks with automated and efficient processes.

  1. Project Management

There is no sense in investing in an automated solution unless you can implement it effectively and achieve your ROI. Gartner predicts that by 2024, only 40% of finance cloud implementations will achieve their goals because of a lack of skills and capability to manage the implementation and change in process.

For effective management, finance teams are now calling on knowledge and expertise traditionally only found within the IT department.

  1. Leadership and People Management

No longer is finance a back-office function. Today’s finance leaders are central in defining the overall company strategy, providing data to help CEOs make informed decisions about growth.

They must also have the essential leadership skills required to develop a team that’s equipped to meet the needs of the wider business. By embedding a culture of growth, they can inspire team members to take on strategic initiatives to propel the finance function further forward.

4. Business Partnering

Effective finance leaders must understand the day-to-day operations of each department in the business. Through this collaboration, they can measure each team’s overall performance and assess the wider impact on the business. Sharing best practice around digitising processes through technology can benefit other functions, and boost overall company output and performance.

Becoming an advisor to departmental heads ensures that teams are aligned with the central strategy, and contribute most effectively to the growth.

5. Analytical and Problem-Solving

With so much data available,  finance leaders need acute analytical skills to gather insights across all departments. With a centralised view of all data and performance, finance provides the necessary information for informed decision-making and can advise throughout this process.

Despite planning and forecasting, business landscapes can change unpredictably as we have seen over the last two years with the pandemic. Problem solving, reacting and adapting to change is critical to help companies move forward. 

Finance leaders use data to suggest innovative solutions to problems and demonstrate resilience to future challenges through having a sustainable strategy.

Future skills for Accounts Payable and Accounts Receivable teams

Modern Accounts Payable and Accounts Receivable teams play a crucial role in assisting finance leaders to be effective now and in the future. 

So, what skills are required to contribute to business success?

  • High attention to detail – accuracy of data is essential, a small error can have a large impact and could result in large costs to the company.
  • Analytical and problem-solving – analysing data to gain insights and being able to offer practical solutions to problems.
  • Fraud awareness and risk management – how to spot fraud, and how to protect your company.
  • Process improvement and technology – grasping new technologies to improve processes.
  • Communication and negotiation – for developing relationships with internal and external stakeholders, and negotiating with suppliers for the best deals.

Future proofing your finance team

Preparing your team for the future should be part of the everyday role of a finance leader. New skills and competencies become necessary with the continual evolution of technology. Digital and analytical skills are replacing more traditional finance skills, so a new breed of finance team can emerge. 

By partnering with other departments, finance leaders learn how they can best meet the requirements of the wider business and play a pivotal role in driving the company strategy. 

Developing your team and investing in talent with these skills will ensure that you can meet the growing demands and future proof against what challenges lay ahead.

Talk to us about training for your team

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