Assess the different kinds of brains you need on the finance team – from the data whizzkids to front-facing, commercially-minded go-getters.
This article is co-authored by Chris Argent, GenerationCFO.com and Richard Hughes, CFO, Proactis who recently shared his career highlights in The Shift and will continue this series on high performing finance team talent.
The make-up of the digital finance function is not quite the same as the traditional one, requiring a slightly different mix of skills. Yes, you need your core accounting skills, but according to consultants such as Gartner and McKinsey, this will comprise less than 10% of the overall function.
So, when undertaking a finance transformation project, you have to consider: “do I have the right mix of skills to create the most value?”
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Outside of those core transactions (most of which will be automated), there are four critical skill areas that should be present in your finance team. These run the gamut from the highly technical to the more commercially minded. Whether you’re looking to upskill your current team or bring in new talent, here’s the optimal skills breakdown:
With your new software, systems and processes, you’ll have access to a lot of data. You’ll need people who are more than data literate on your team; you need people who understand the science of data, how to read it, manipulate it and present it in a way that is most relevant to the organisation. They may not do as much of the people-facing stuff as other groups and roles, but they provide critical support to the more commercial team members.
The problem solvers jump on various projects around the business and address specific financial challenges. This is one of the largest groups within the digital finance function, with some people assigned to specific departments and others working where they’re needed. For this, you need people who can think creatively and agilely, with strong interpersonal skills.
The value leaders
These people are your MVPs, your all-rounders, who are working on the company’s major challenges, helping to shape the strategy, collecting insights from around the organisation and influencing decision making at a high level. They have strong interpersonal and technical skills and work with people across the function to create action plans for the rest of the organisation. They’re highly proactive, identifying the sort of variables that the function should be modelling in order to deliver the most value to the organisation.
These are the most technical people on your team, each taking on a deep level of knowledge in a particular field, from tax planning to customer analytics to liquidity and working capital management. Large organisations may organise these into centres of excellence (COE) – the growth COE, or the tax management COE, for example. By having these small teams of deep technical expertise, you can continuously improve the quality of your data, your forecasting, and your planning, providing a rich and valuable service to the organisation.
Bring all of these groups together, and you have a pretty unstoppable force when it comes to delivering value to the organisation. The technology creates a strong foundation for a digital finance function, but it’s with the talent that it really starts to pay off.