Finance and accounting teams in corporations face a “rising tide of finance challenges according to the Financial Executives Research Foundation/Protiviti 2015 Finance Priorities Survey. Finance teams are extremely busy and trying to cope with the increasing waves of change and workload coming their way. In the midst of being busier than ever, they are challenged to find time to support the company’s strategic growth initiatives and add insights to the operating and financial resuts of the business units. In fact the “busyness” factor showed up in our research in our townhall/PIUs over the past year -see our post The Top Six Issues Facing CPAs.

The report covers five key findings as follows:

  1. Finance functions are striving to gain greater visibility toward the “cash” horizon.
  2. Finance executives are placing more importance on strategic planning, risk management, executive dashboards, profitability analysis and other strategic areas of financial analysis.
  3. Finance functions want to manage and improve related processes in a comprehensive manner. Strategic planning, budgeting and forecasting rank among the highest priorities in the entire study, which demonstrates an intent to strengthen overall corporate performance management.
  4. Getting the right talent in the right place is a formidable challenge. Especially in light of the proliferation of standards, regulations and complex laws like the ACA.
  5. Soft skills have hard value – Cultivating stronger communications, collaboration and relationship-building skills throughout ranks is high priority in 2015.
These five areas are being driven by the three mega-trends of globalization, demographics, and technology changes, we refer to this as the “shift change“. 
 

 
This research is consistent with our work with our large company CFOs and public company finance teams. Our public company CFOs identified talent development, innovation, global structuring of finance, and the need for insights from accounting/finance to the business units. 
The big opportunity is for CFOs and finance leaders to figure out the “AND” approach. How will they develop people and processes that allow them to continue to support the innovation and strategic areas of the business while at the same time keeping up with the tsunami of regulations and standards coming at them. 
 
Our Business Learning Institute was developed to help Finance teams make the shift change with a strategic approach to learning and development (See slides 10-18 above). We have a catalog of over 300 “success skills” to support rapid development of those key soft skills mentioned in the FEI report (strategic thinking, communication, leadership, and collaboration).
 
 
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