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Why CFO’s Need to Put Their People First as the Accounting Function Transforms

Why CFO’s Need to Put Their People First as the Accounting Function Transforms

Why CFO’s Need to Put Their People First as the Accounting Function Transforms

As the automation of the finance function continues to increase at a rapid pace, it is imperative for CFO’s to start identifying sound opportunities for their talent in advance.

Compared to finance functions of a few years ago, today’s operations are barely recognisable with manual processes being phased out as improvement in technology advances. With the mix of manual and automated processes, there is a growing trend to further automate so that finance professionals no longer spend hours manually posting transactions or pouring through reconciliations.

The long-term aim is for finance to provide key analytics, enhanced operational insights and reduced human error, ensuring that time is better spent adding value to the organisation.

That being said, according to a recent report published by EY, titled Finance of the Future it was found that “CFOs and Heads of Finance in Ireland are lagging behind in terms of planning for the future impact of technology on their organisations”.

The good news however, is that most organisations are at the beginning of their transformation process so there is still time for CFO’s to act, within the same EY report, it highlights that “70% of CFO’s believe the role of the finance function will fundamentally change over the next 10 years”

With this change, CFO’s are being urged to take the time now to map out the next number of years when it comes to the human capital in their function, otherwise they risk the alternative of losing their top talent.

How can this be done?

CFO’s are now required to look into the future to understand how the department can be set up to provide innovative approaches for creating value and measure and manage organisational performance, so they can better support complex decisions and create more accountability across the company.

In order for this transformation from a digital perspective to be successful, sufficient attention must be given to the human side of the process to enable retention of current talent within the team but to also ensure there is an ability to attract talent in the future.

Communicating to people the career paths that are available in the midst of the automation process is essential because that is something that will weigh heavily on their minds.

Showing your team, the roles and duties that will be required of them will enable for them to keep pace with the automation change and provides clarity on their potential progression.

Furthermore, CFOs can look to work more closely with HR to map out career paths for both those who want opportunities providing value-added analysis to operational colleagues and those who are more comfortable staying where they are to the extent automation hasn’t done away with their functions.

A report by PwC further states that “digital rewrites the talent strategy for finance functions and demands a rethink on how it attracts the brightest and best.”

Given these changing functions, CFO’s still need to look for people with core finance and accounting talent, but must also be cognisant to attract the talent who are comfortable working with technology tools, are comfortable collaborating with colleagues in operational divisions, and who possess the ability to communicate at a high level.

The millennial generation is a digital generation, they collaborate in different ways, challenging assumptions and breaking down organisational boundaries. In order to attract this talent pool CFO’s should look to do the following:

Understanding and manipulating data is going to be key in the transformation of the accounting function, whilst the automation will allow for more deep dive analysis having your team consist of a mix of skill sets will ensure your team has a competitive advantage and make it possible to attract the best.

For the current job seeker, technology plays an important role in their career choices. According to a report from PwC ‘59 percent of millennials report that the availability of state-of-the-art technology was important to them when considering a job’

To ensure that the best want to work with you and your company, it is vital that you are able to clearly outline how you will help them succeed in the future. Highlight any talent programmes that you run or give examples on how you have helped previous employees increase their skill set.

Lastly, CFOs need to ensure that when they hire they are in fact hiring the best in the market. Moving away from the fundamental technical skills to a more soft skill approach will highlight those who possess strategic thinking, leadership and relationship building abilities that will guide them upwards on the career ladder.

For further advice on retaining and attracting talent in the financial services market, please connect with us at

William McCoppin


William has experience across multiple markets, specialising in compliance and financial crime at the interim, mid-to-senior and executive level.