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Finance functions are prioritising investments in technology implementations, business intelligence and data analysis as they refine their existing operating models to align with the current trend of increased technology adoption, according to the third annual survey of 200 CFOs and finance middle management in Hong Kong conducted by KPMG and ACCA Hong Kong.

The findings suggest there is room for improvement in how organisations can support finance staff in the face of technological change, with only a third of the respondents polled agreeing that technology could help them complete tasks faster and allow workers to focus on other activities.  In the next five to ten years, organisations are inclined to look for talent specialising in data analytics, technical finance knowledge, project management and leadership skills.

Increased technology adoption has driven senior management to reconsider the role of shared services or outsourcing. Nevertheless, a majority of surveyed finance professionals still identified shared services or outsourcing as a requirement. Going forward, organisations need to weigh opportunities to automate and evaluate the best ways to achieve resilience.

Isabel Zisselsberger

Isabel Zisselsberger
Partner - Strategy & Performance
KPMG China

Tracy Shum

Tracy Shum
Director, Finance Strategy and Transformation
KPMG China

Report highlights

According to our survey, the average score for the level of support provided for flexible working arrangements was 6.6 out of 10, indicating organisations have adequately coped with business disruptions but that there is still room for improvement.

The most critical challenges for respondents to work remotely
32%
32 % documentation
Heavy reliance on paper-based documentation
24%
24 % clock
Unsupportive flexible working culture and policy
Top 3 initiatives that interviewees’ finance function prioritised
18%
18 % process
Process optimisation
18%
18 % technology
Technology implementation
18%
14 % intelligence
Business intelligence and data analysis

35% viewed future technological changes within their finance function favourably as they believe technology will enable them to complete tasks faster and free them to concentrate on other value added activities.

Respondents on average gave a score of 6 out of 10 for the level of support their organisations provided them to

  • - effectively use the implemented technologies,
  • - upskill for role changes, and
  • - be aware of new technologies

Over 50% of respondents believed that SSC/outsourcing is still required despite the presence of technology initiatives. In particular, technology can help improve the efficiency of work (22 percent) and make outsourcing more cost-effective (16 percent); however, a segment of respondents said technology could not replace all activities (12 percent).

The most important skill sets that finance professionals should possess in the next 5 to 10 years.
20% Data analytical skills
20 % data analytics
Data analytical skills
17% Leadership and Project Management Office (PMO) skills
17 % leadership
Leadership and Project Management Office (PMO) skills
15% Technical accounting and reporting knowledge
15 % reporting
Technical accounting and reporting knowledge
14% Technology skills
14 % skills
Technology skills

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