Over the years finance has undergone numerous innovations. This includes the double-entry accounting system by Benedetto and Microsoft's release of Excel (the world's most widely used spreadsheet program). But in 2020, the pandemic exacerbated a long-standing corporate tendency.
It has been a trend for CFOs to transition from being mere bean counters to having oversight of HR, procurement, and technology (as well as finance). CFOs are now considered strategic business leaders with responsibilities more closely aligned to what was previously assigned to the COO.
Many external factors, including emerging financial industry trends and evolving technologies, have forced CFOs to move swiftly. In many cases, those actions were proven to be wise. This is where digitisation and automation came in, removing many of the risks associated with acting rashly. CFOs could act quickly and confidently thanks to financial software and Cloud computing.
As digital transformation demands constant change, another important business area that needs attention is efficient planning. It has become extremely important to set up modern planning processes that can deliver the necessary insights more effectively and intuitively.
Cloud adoption statistics show that 59% of businesses believe adopting Cloud software is their top expenditure priority. CFOs must remain in a strategic position and be the change agents for their organisation if they are to survive and prosper in a post-pandemic world. CEOs now expect their CFO to make a strategic contribution, using technology to optimise performance and make informed business decisions.
Why are modern employee expectations important?
Understanding distinct generations is necessary for comprehending modern employee expectations. Gen Z is the newest generation to enter the workforce. Despite having many traits in common with the generation before (Millennials), Gen Z is the first group of workers to have grown up entirely in the digital age. They have only ever known a time with full access to the internet.
Research into Gen Z and the future of work shows that this generation has higher standards for the effectiveness of work tasks, and they aspire to use the latest technologies available. However, they are significantly less devoted to their employers if they cannot see the rewards of their labour in the form of financial security that benefits their personal time. As a result, leisure time is given more importance and life experiences like travel and hobbies are valued more highly.
The same Forbes report found that about 80% of Gen-Z prefer working with cutting-edge technology. This influences their job choice as they are well-versed in how technology can shape their work.
Examples of employee expectations in finance and accounting teams
Modern workers expect certain things from CFOs, including a healthy work/life balance, freedom, simplicity, and digital transformation.
- The future of work: In today’s world, CFOs must stay on their toes due to the still-tight labour market, new working patterns (remote and hybrid), and shifting employee expectations. Finance executives worked with CHROs to make staff members feel essential after realising they wanted a greater sense of purpose from their jobs.
- Accelerating transformation: Throughout the pandemic, CFOs have remained committed to investing in digital transformation. Many will have protected digital investments from cost-cutting measures, resource reallocation, and even investment acceleration.
- Building trust and purpose: One of the most crucial elements in an organisation's capacity to develop and compete is trust. PwC found in their Trust In Business Survey that the CEO holds 73% of the leadership positions when it comes to who owns trust, and the CFO holds 65% of these positions.
Business leaders have discovered themselves at the nexus of purpose and practice when converting trust into action. Efforts made across the organisation, particularly in the areas of transparency, assurance, accounting, and reporting insights, are now seen as falling under the CFO's expanding remit of responsibility.
How Gen Z is changing the finance function
More of Gen Z are entering finance, and they are likely to be attentive to others' feelings and technological needs, as they personally witnessed the profound disruption caused by the pandemic.
The enhanced sensitivity and adaptability of Gen Z will be advantageous to CFOs. These are essential elements of emotional intelligence, which is now regarded as a centrally important trait for employees to possess.
Gen Z will vastly differ from Millennials in terms of their views on what success means in life and the workplace. As companies look to restructure themselves within a dynamic market, they focus on attracting and utilising the talents of the younger generations. Those in this generation have a unique set of skills and can help develop a highly productive work environment that embraces the full potential of technology.
How CFOs can adapt to changing employee expectations
The CFO's role is evolving to be more strategic and to encompass a lot of what was formerly the COO role, partly due to multigenerational teams and the differing expectations they have. But to be successful in this, they must empower their finance team with technology. And they must be able to access accurate, real time financial data from the Cloud.
It will be challenging for CFOs to find a ready-made model for reorienting their organisation around principles like individual autonomy, flexibility, and wellness (while also adding mentoring and coaching to their responsibilities). However, there are four essential steps for delivering greater real time insights, reducing biases and human error, and accelerating workflows and decision-making:
Look beyond transactional activities
Machine learning and AI technology have significantly boosted transactional efficiency among businesses. A combination of advanced processes and a skilled workforce creates an environment that will unlock efficiency in the value-adding areas of finance.
Help finance lead in data
A carefully defined master data-management plan is necessary for finance departments to direct the collection, archiving, and analysis of the ever-increasing volume of data required to carry out business analytics.
Finance departments must use more complex analytical methods to address urgent business issues. It is always advisable to turn data into insights to make the soundest decisions. Modern analytical technologies can help to root out irrelevant information and track performance in every business area.
Reimagine the finance operating model with new capabilities
The new finance operating model starts from a leaner core, with tighter data standards, new data-management practices, enhanced automation, and integration with a wide range of related digital technologies to reduce the effort involved in operational tasks.
Managing multi-generational teams and mentoring the future generation
It is crucial to comprehend the tastes, actions, and expectations of Gen Z as they enter the workforce. It will be necessary for CFOs to sit back and reevaluate how the workplace is changing and evolving. Although the pandemic caused a sudden increase in the number of employees working from home, the movement towards more flexibility (due to shifting demographics and technological advancements) was already underway.
The pandemic made it more urgent for CFOs to have a greater input into strategy. And our Finance Trends Survey showed there is a great hunger within finance teams to be more involved with strategy too. The adoption of Cloud-based accounting software has been instrumental in achieving this transition because it can produce precise, real time financial data to satisfy increasing business demands.
The new realities that these forces of change have created show how the future of finance is developing. As a result, CFOs will need to adopt a new mentality. Real and concrete attention should be given to automating manual financial operations, raising empathy levels, enhancing workplace efficiency, greater work/life balance, and employing technology to improve connections. If these factors aren’t considered, Gen Z will have enough sway to send ripples throughout the businesses.
The role of Cloud technology in meeting employee expectations
Traditionally, finance departments concentrated on transactional tasks, but expectations have changed, and they are now expected to be collaborators and generators of business value. In addition, they can connect information across the organisation thanks to their unique position at the centre of the business.
It is crucial to comprehend the preferences, actions, and expectations of Gen Z as they enter the workforce. CFOs will need to step back and reevaluate how the workplace is evolving.
Nobody can predict the future with certainty, but CFOs must consider what's probable and how to prepare for the future of finance. Your finance team will be in an excellent position to attract (and hold onto) Gen Z talent if you’re prepared to embrace workplace productivity and digital ways of working (via Cloud technology). The time has come to develop a roadmap for the financial future of Gen Z in a digital age, using a clear vision and strategy.
Learn more about our Cloud-based accounting software, Advanced Financials, which can assist you with putting the right people and processes in place.