Finance shared services careers: opportunity or end game?

ACCA surveyed over 260 shared services leaders to gain their insights about what attracts them to a finance role in shared services. This report suggests that taking up a role in finance shared services is no longer viewed as career limiting, but rather a unique opportunity to broaden the capabilities and soft skills increasingly sought by the business.


Historically, finance shared services leadership roles have been perceived in some organisations as career limiting for those who aspired to occupy the top finance seat at the executive table. 

In a bid to test or challenge this view, ACCA surveyed over 260 shared service leaders to gain their insights about what attracts them to a finance role in shared services or in a more encompassing Global Business Services (GBS) model – their career aspirations and challenges, satisfaction levels and views of the future of the profession.

Insights were also obtained from interviews with a number of leading shared services professionals, giving a front-line view of what it is like to follow a shared services career path.

Key findings

Career opportunities

Almost 45% of the respondents perceive that a finance shared services leadership role provides the opportunity to develop a long-term career in business operations (shared services, centre of excellence (CoE) or GBS).

Capabilities and skills

There is the same opportunity for enhanced finance skills development in shared services as there is in other parts of finance, but broader business and, particularly, soft skills such as influencing, communicating, change management and a keen sense of the customer, are of paramount importance. 

Career challenges

Shared services are still not part of finance function career paths in many organisations. Respondents to this survey see shared services recruitment as primarily confined to the existing operation, with over 50% promoted from within.

The report concludes with a set of recommendations for finance professionals managing their shared services career.