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The modern finance leader must champion automation to drive efficiencies and capture data

The modern finance leader is now expected to be more than a financial reporter, with the role now involving data analysis, strategic decision making and leading digital transformation across the business

The modern CFO and Financial Director is increasingly expected to drive strategy and technological decisions that affect their whole organisation, and are finding that their primary role is no longer simply about financial reporting.

According to a report from Sage titled ‘digital transformation beyond financial management’, 94% of 500 senior in-house decision makers surveyed from SMEs said that their role had expanded ‘significantly’ over the last five years, with six-in-ten saying they are primarily responsible for digital transformation.

This shows how finance leaders are expected now more than ever to drive strategy within a business.

“The modern finance leader has to be seen as a provider of data and analytics support to help the business achieve its goals,” says Anish Kapoor, CEO of AccessPay. “Simply reporting on what has happened isn’t good enough anymore. You have to be pro-actively impacting what will happen.”

As a result, Finance leaders are looking for ways to make the finance function more efficient for their business, not only to reduce its costs, but to also free up their time and the time of their employees to focus on data analytics, more strategic decision making and to drive digital transformation to meet the demands of modern industry.

To meet these demands, the finance function itself is transforming, with CFOs and Financial Directors utilising intelligent automation to reduce the time spent on the more tedious, manual tasks that traditionally have taken up most of their time.

However, a report in the Sunday Times in November found that businesses that are repositioning their CFOs at the heart of the business are making positive gains, but also found that one-in-three CEOs are concerned that their financial counterparts are not prepared for the challenges ahead.

Kapoor says that the finance function’s adoption rate of automation is trailing other areas in a business, and that finance leaders need to be on the frontline when it comes to improving efficiencies.

“Every business function is under pressure to deliver more impact from a lower opex cost base – finance is no different,” he says. “The finance function is now lagging other areas in terms of adoption of automation technologies to drive up productivity.

“We have to be seen to be leaders in this approach if we are to credibly ask the rest of the business to be more efficient.”

But what technologies are available to finance leaders to drive efficiency? There are several options out there, which are getting increasingly more powerful, and businesses often find themselves using a variety of systems to fulfil different functions.

“Organisations are now using a collection of best of breed specific technology solutions,” says Kapoor. “For example, you may use a solution that automates data entry in the AP team and a different solution that automates reconciliation for month-end reporting.

“Key within all of this is having some way to easily pull all these disparate technologies together, and use the data within them to provide finance with the ability to analyse and report on a constantly changing set of business requirements.”


To hear more from Anish Kapoor, tune in to Financial Director’s free webinar, in association with AccessPay, on the 4th March 2020 at 3PM. He will discuss the likely finance operating model of the future, how standardisation and Open Banking will enable this, what this means for finance leaders and how forward thinking corporates are making the data driven finance function a reality today.

Register for the free webinar today:

The finance function of the future: Intelligent automation for the smart finance function.

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