Six hypotheses driving the future of finance

This report, which is based upon a series of interactive workshops with leading finance professionals, interviews and survey responses, considers several the common views of the key attributes of the finance function of tomorrow and explains how these might be addressed by forward-thinking finance teams. Many of the suggestions come from those who have embraced the change so far. Above all it is a story of relevance and organisational success.

The research is based around six hypotheses that were defined on the basis of conversations with ACCA members and PwC clients.  These represented differing views on the future finance function.

Stacked bar chart presenting the responses to ACCA survey exploring six themes summarising key trends in finance. Results for each stacked bar as follows. Organisations driven by real time decisions: 34% occurring now/soon, in three years 32%, five to ten years 21%, not likely to occur at all 13%. Trusted data will be open and accessible: occurring now/soon 29%, in three years 27%, five to ten years 22%, not likely to occur at all 22%, All time spent on generating insight: occurring now/soon 25%, in three years 22%, five to ten years 25%, not likely to occur at all 28%. New roles and skills for finance: occurring now/soon 22%, in three years 23%, five to ten years 33%, not likely to occur at all 22%. Finance function will be virtual: occurring now/soon 20%, in three years 16%, five to ten years 29%, not likely to occur at all 35%. CFO role will no longer exist: occurring now/soon 12%, in three years 14%, five to ten years 24%, not likely to occur at all 50%.

Dimensions underlying the evolution of finance

The opportunity for the finance function of the future is borne upon the need to consider how it manages a number of dimensions.

The ability to serve the organisation’s purpose in the functions that it performs is fundamental to the future success of finance. To achieve this the finance function needs to consider each of these dimensions in isolation, but more importantly together. Our panel of experts in the report consider these areas and offer specific insights.

An illustration of the evolution of finance: driven by data, technology, processes, people, and most importantly purpose and the culture of the finance organisation.

A threat and an opportunity

This level of change can be viewed as both a threat and an opportunity. Perhaps the greatest threat to the finance professional is that unless you actively grasp the opportunities to do things differently, you will have very little influence on defining the direction of the finance function and your role within it.

An illustration of the transformational journey. Centred around purpose, this involves a bottom line of enablers including skills and resources, technology and data; and an evolving organisational design based around centres of expertise, strategic partnering and stewardship and control.