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We have heard it before; CFOs are facing a number of forces that have opened up opportunities for the Finance function to take a leadership role like never before. But how do you leverage these great opportunities? Our latest finance CFO survey, Future Ready Finance, show us that success definitely is achievable. Indeed, Finance functions at high-performing companies have not only been able to adapt to this new environment, but thrive in it, says Matilda Bergström, Head of Finance Transformation at KPMG Sweden.

– The study is full of interesting insights. Those I find particularly interesting are how Finance in high performing organizations have handled the data quality challenge and now shifted their attention to determine which business questions they should solve as well as how high performing organizations anticipate the impact of automation on their talent needs. We also look at why many Finance organizations struggle with implementing their most important initiatives while they succeed with other less important initiatives.   

In Future Ready Finance we asked 859 executives what initiatives they are most focused on and how successful they expect them to be. This survey provides key insights on finance’s priorities, challenges and capabilities and covers areas such as Extreme Automation, Innovation and Investment, Insights and Analysis, Organization and Talent, Risk and Controls and Service Delivery Model.

Find out more below. 

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The performance payoff

While success in executing Finance’s most important initiatives is elusive at many organizations, it is more than possible to prosper in achieving next-generation priorities. High-performing companies significantly outperform their peers across all initiatives. These organizations are far more successful in executing on their most important imperatives, employing advanced automation and analytics technologies to provide critical insights to inform business decisions, and becoming a force for innovation within their enterprises.

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Succeeding where it matters least

To increase the strategic value of Finance, the highest priority initiatives focus on increasing the quality of insights and improving planning and forecasting accuracy. Yet these initiatives are precisely the ones with the lowest success rates— nearly two-thirds of organizations have struggled to implement their most forward-thinking priorities—while lower priority ones show much greater success. Becoming a leading Finance organization will require the CFO to invert these results by devoting outsized resources to these highest-priority, hardest-to-execute activities.

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The CEO-CFO alignment imperative

The priorities of Finance and Executive management broadly align, but differ in important areas. At most organizations, Finance overemphasizes operational and cost-reduction initiatives relative to the priorities of Executive management—at the expense of higher value-added activities that increase automation and agility. At high-performing organizations, the opposite is the case, with Finance placing a higher priority on planning and insight generation that best allow it to become an enabler of better business decisions across the organization.

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The deal with data

As Finance seeks to position itself as a trusted business partner, perhaps its most critical competency is to enable better decision making across the enterprise by providing accurate, timely, and high-quality data analysis. However, at most organizations, data quality is the single greatest challenge to improving analytics capabilities, followed closely by integration difficulties with legacy systems. Dealing with the avalanche of data by solving the “basics” is the first step on the path to enhanced analytics.

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A future-first workforce

As tasks once performed by humans are increasingly performed by machines, the required skills will differ in fundamental ways from those of the past. This has profound implications for the ways Finance organizations must source and develop these skills. While the majority agree that automation will allow Finance to focus more on higher value-added activities, few have been able to adapt their skill bases to the realities of a more automated workplace.

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Roadmap to future ready finance

While the forces of disruption are real, so is the opportunity. Finance organizations that can master next-generation capabilities can expect to prosper in the new environment. Finance organizations that fail to adapt risk being left behind as their companies lose market share and lose confidence in finance’s capabilities. Needless to say, the stakes have never been higher.

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Executive profiles

Finance executives are increasingly focused on driving profitable growth and supporting innovation while becoming more agile in their ability to respond to market disruption. Leading executives outline how they are transforming their finance functions to better support the business and help ensure they prosper in the future.

Contact:

Matilda Bergström 

Head of Finance transformation KPMG Sweden.