Survival of the fittest

Increasing globalisation and continuous pressure to generate cost
efficiencies, together with investor demand for transparency, are supporting the
argument that organisations should standardise and automate procedures. This is
the view being put forward in KMPG’s report Finance of the future ­ looking
forward to 2020.

To maintain the attractiveness and credibility of the profession, it is clear
widespread change is needed.
Outsourcing is increasingly easy to do and provides a cost-efficient solution
for managing back and mid-office functions. There are providers with strong IT
systems supportive of strong control environments, making outsourcing ever more

Of course, business models that result in finance functions being taken
offshore require local finance professionals to refocus their work.

The report cites one CFO who says: ‘…the focus has turned to delivering
insight and interpretation with commercial awareness… it’s where those finance
professionals of the future will come from that presents the most pressing
challenge… the big question for me is do we… need traditionally trained finance
people or more MBAs?’ This is a question many others will be asking.

The challenges extend beyond corporate organisations and have far-reaching
implications not just
for individual professionals, but also for firms and the professional bodies.

If a CFO envisages in the future that standard IT tools, processes and data
are in place and transactional processes are offshore, what practical experience
will trainee accountants be exposed to locally? What will they look at? How will
they build their careers? Will their skills, experience and qualification be as
attractive to commerce as they have been historically?

There are a few key questions:

  • How will the wider economic changes affect the accountancy bodies’ views of
    examinable topics and the practical experience required for qualification?
  • Will we see increased convergence between the accountancy qualifications and
    the MBA? Some accountancy bodies are already responding to the MBA challenge;
  • Will these changes make the finance professional as attractive to business
    and enable them to support initiatives that realise business value?

It is clear that significant change is required for finance professionals to
remain successful in this rapidly evolving marketplace.

Vipul Sheth is managing director of AdvanceTrack

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