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We held roundtable discussions with finance professionals all around the world as part of our joint research report, Transformational Journeys: Finance and the Agile Organisation. From their responses, we created a word cloud that provides clear insights into the way the industry views the future of finance. 

Here I will show you the word cloud, and we can break it down together to really understand the importance of these terms. They may even give you a new perspective on the direction the finance and accounting profession is heading.

Transformational Journeys: Finance and the Agile Organisation was created alongside the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) and Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand (Chartered Accountants ANZ).

Access the full research report below for more insights, including discussions on agile working, value cases and more.

Transformation

Sitting boldly across the middle is ‘Transformation’. This is no surprise. Transformation is the focus of heavy discussion within the finance community, and even more so within the context of our report.

I think one of the most important elements of transformation is that it is a continuous process – it’s never fully over and done with. Transformation must be seen as ongoing, as an act that keeps your organisation adaptable and relevant.

One roundtable participant commented that in their organisation they had been recognising different stages of digitalisation or organisational transformation over three years. This tells us that continuous transformation is already happening for many, and has been for a while.

This term being at the centre of the cloud is a reminder that all transformations are important. Neither organisational or digital transformation can be neglected if you want to remain at the top of the accounting and finance industry.

Digital

Speaking of digital transformation, tucked into the left edge of the cloud is ‘Digital’, a term inseparable from the future of finance.

One roundtable participant from the United Kingdom stated that “for finance teams to adopt the technology, you have to go through a digital transformation.” The participant also pointed out that:

“finance transformation provides credibility to participate in a wider transformation of the business”

This statement proves both the currency and the value of ‘Digital’, and marks it as a term finance professionals should not ignore.

Covid

It may be smaller than other terms, but ‘Covid’ is just as unavoidable in the cloud as it is in real life.

It’s been at the tip of all of our tongues for a long time. However, time has passed, and the questions we ask about the virus have changed. Instead of wondering what it is and when it will disappear, many are now asking how to adapt to life alongside it. This is especially the case for the finance industry when looking to the future.

One way to adapt to the new world we are living in is by using the previous two terms I covered in conjunction: digital transformation.

As one participant put it, through digital transformation “you can add value to your customers even in difficult circumstances as abrupt and unexpected as the pandemic”.

The virus won’t be disappearing any time soon (if at all), so this roundtable remark proves the importance of digital transformation and adaptation for finance teams.

Agile

Another change to the life of finance professionals is the shift in working styles. In simple terms, agility means working in a way that revolves around responsiveness and flexibility.

Traditional working models are no longer congruous with the world we live in. This is seen in the decrease in traditional 9-5 working hours, as well as agile working becoming increasingly popular.

To explain agility to finance professionals, I would emphasise Chris Argent’s ‘CFO specific’ definition: “ways of planning and doing accounting and finance work, in which it is understood that making changes required by the business is a critical part of the job”.

Agility means that blows to progress, including the pandemic, have less of an impact on companies practising agile working than it would on those practising traditional business styles. It also means that an organisation is more adaptable to the constant release of new technology for the finance function.

As new technology and an increase in the need for flexibility and responsiveness will only continue in the next few years, agility is clearly an important asset for the future.

Explore more on finance and transformation

I hope exploring these terms has helped you view them in a new way. If you want to learn more, access the full report on Transformational Journeys: Finance and the Agile Organisation below.