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How the ICAEW Academy is safeguarding the future of finance professionals

The accountancy body’s Academy of Professional Development is helping finance teams develop skills in an increasingly tech disrupted world.

Numerous trends are affecting the role of the CFO.

There are the natural processes of change that are affecting companies everywhere- with more focus on increasingly adaptive approaches such as business partnering.

Then there are the waves of disruption that are being felt in every geography and sector, brought on by digital innovations leading to changing business models, forcing companies to think how they plan for the future.

External factors such as regulation and wider geo-political developments such as Brexit, are also adding to the changing trends affecting companies.

This challenging mix- often referred to as the VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous) world, are presenting more challenges to companies than ever before.

In this context, the finance function can play a key role in helping to deliver business advantage in a constantly changing environment.

Those ideas were aired at the recent CFO Agenda where a variety of finance leaders revealed how they were using the most effective financial tools combined with people skills to drive change.

Amongst them, Naomi Connell, CFO of construction services group Volker Wessels UK, chaired a session at the event entitled: “The future of the CFO: Are you ready?”

An ICAEW member, Connell has benefited from being on the ICAEW’s Financial Talent Executive Network (F-TEN®) which is aimed at ambitious senior financial professionals who are close to becoming a group CFO or taking on an equivalent level role.

The F-TEN® is one of a number of leadership development programmes run by the ICAEW’s Academy of Professional Development to raise the skills of finance leadersso that they help lead their organisations in an increasingly challenging environment.

The CFO Agenda concentrated on three key areas that finance teams are addressing in order to maximise their organisations: strategy and business partnering, transformation and operational and performance efficiency.

In each area, disruptive technologies such as Artificial Intelligence, robotics and predictive analytics are providing the means to enhance the performance of the finance function.

The ICAEW Academy offers courses that can help finance professionals to exploit these technologies to capture insights and make judgements that will deliver competitive advantage to their organisations.

But in order that finance leaders and their teams are able to deliver these contributions, they also need to be able to communicate effectively across their organisations.

The right blend

To that end corporates and other organisations are turning to the ICAEW Academy – to make them fit for purpose in an increasingly digitalised world- capable of driving their group’s future performance.

The Academy specialises in equipping finance professionals for the future – in the fast-changing business environment. Along with a portfolio of exclusive coaches and mentors, and leading training experts in their fields – its learning solutions endow delegates with practical skills that are instantly applicable to the business, leading to tangible positive impacts.

The Academy CPD courses or leadership programmes can also be delivered in-house, either off the shelf or tailored. Or even create a bespoke programme specific to your business needs. By working with a trusted leadership and development provider, the intention is to future-proof the next generation of finance leader.

Despite being open to changes, 78% of accountants say they are considering retraining to safeguard the future of their role. The majority (80%) expect to spend less time on manual tasks in the future, with 73% predicting a greater focus on providing advising clients, according to research from accountancy software company FreeAgent.

One of the most important ways for finance leaders to be able to contribute to the success of organisations is through applying soft skills to communicate the insights and judgements to the wider organisation- especially if there is a wide set of stakeholders.

When Vodafone commissioned ICAEW Academy to deliver a bespoke finance leadership programme to develop 20 of their potential finance leaders of the future, the emphasis on soft skills was a big feature. “Using a number of business case studies, with a lot of work on soft skills such as influencing and challenging, we’ve been able to get people to raise their eyes above the finance parapet and see their business in the broader context of the role, says Peregrine Riviere Director of Investor Relations, Vodafone. “This programme has helped us have a much stronger pipeline of future finance directors,” he adds.

A feature of the Academy’s approach is applied training –not just the theory – so that you return to your business with innovative insights and practical solutions. Its trainers are leading subject matter experts, experienced finance professionals and highly engaging tutors, with an average delegate feedback score across all courses rated at 4.8/5.

Ultimately, the Academy’s courses offer a well-defined learning journey that finance teams can follow closely, that feature careful monitoring to ensure successful outcomes.

If you are looking for the highest quality and standard of training at great value for money, the Academy is your answer. With a commitment to future-proofing the skills of finance professionals in the age of digital transformation, it is your one-stop-shop to up-skilling your finance teams, or honing in on your own leadership skills.

ICAEW announces new further education programme for CFOs read here

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