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Tech-up within next three years or ‘game over’, CIMA to finance professionals

BY: Emmanuel Bruce
Dr Noel Tagoe, Executive Director of CIMA
Dr Noel Tagoe, Executive Director of CIMA

Most finance teams and professionals are not evolving their skills fast enough in line with the impact of artificial intelligence, robotic process automation and other technologies, a study by the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA) has revealed.

The study, labelled ‘re-inventing finance for a digital world’, indicated that over 50 per cent of finance leaders globally believed the competencies of their teams must change significantly over the next three years as new technologies took over traditional tasks.

At the launch of the study, the Executive Director of CIMA, Dr Noel Tagoe, said it was, therefore, necessary for finance professionals to evolve now or risk being redundant.

“Businesses expect a stronger focus on value creation with the automation of repetitive tasks.

Expertise in areas such as data analytics, cyber risk management and business models will facilitate the shift.

There will be the need for a shift in mindset to constantly acquire new skills to deal with complexity and operating in an increasingly agile environment,” he stated.

Research

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Shedding more light on the study, Dr Tagoe said: “Over the course of 18 months, CIMA consulted finance professionals from over 2,000 public and private organisations of all sizes in 150 countries, including face-to-face interviews, roundtables and a global survey.”

He said the goal was to bring together different organisational views to understand and build a composite picture of the role finance professionals played in businesses.

He said it was also to identify competencies and skills employers expected and map how those were changing in a digital world.

Findings

Dr Tagoe said the research revealed that 61 per cent finance professionals surveyed expected over 20 per cent of finance tasks to be automated in the next three years.

“Over 55 per cent have already seen that a move towards ‘somewhat’ automated processes and hindsight reporting, for instance, still makes up 65 per cent of a finance team’s report outputs,” he noted.

Change at unprecedented speed

The Chief Executive of Management Accounting PU at the Association of International Certified Professional Accountants (AICPA), Mr Andrew Harding, for his part said technology was bringing change at an unprecedented speed and scale, urging organisations to, therefore, constantly enhance their capabilities to seize new opportunities and remain viable.

“For finance professionals it is no different.

The changing environment represents a huge opportunity for them to go beyond their core technical comfort zone and embrace emerging technologies as a way to deliver value across their organisations.

However to rise to the challenge, they will need to hone new skills and competencies to stay employable and competent for a digital world,” he stated.

Staying ahead

The Country Manager of CIMA Ghana, Mr Paul Aninakwah, also noted that the speed of change within the finance function meant that organisations must continually review and enhance their capabilities to stay ahead.

“To meet the challenges presented by a changing finance function and remain employable in a rapidly evolving industry, individuals will need to gain new skills and adopt a growth mindset.

This applies as much to the finance sector as it does to any other professional sector,” he pointed out.