Back in February 2021 Advanced partnered with 'The CFO' to host The CFO’s 2021 hitlist – Brexit, coronavirus and tech webinar, now available to watch on demand.
Reflecting on 2020, our speakers contributed their experiences on how technology helped change finance teams for the better during these challenging times. As we pass the halfway point in 2021, the focus around the acceleration of digital transformation in finance throughout the pandemic continues to remain as relevant as ever.
Read on to find out our speakers’ thoughts on how the roles of CFOs and Finance Directors have continued to evolve and grow over the past year…
How has it been for finance teams during the pandemic?
In March 2020, new working from home requirements saw the status quo change overnight for the traditional finance department. CFOs had the challenge of keeping their finance teams engaged and productive while condensing five years of Cloud-based digital transformation into the space of three months to establish new ways of working.
“CFOs need to review their existing software solutions to see if they are being used at full capacity, and whether the current technology meets the new level of demand being delivered by the finance team.” – Ian McLaren > CFO, CTR and London Midland
Finance teams have been able to globally build a stronger team culture. Equipping people with the right tools and technology has created better team interaction and collaboration on projects while working remotely alongside widening the talent pool.
Key areas of focus for finance teams:
- Maintain financial health – Keep a close eye on cash flow management as we continue to navigate through the pandemic.
- Leverage Cloud technology – Automate mundane tasks to free up time and maximise productivity around real-time reporting, insights, updates and scenario planning.
- Positioning for change - With discussions around hybrid working in the near future, CFOs must prepare their finance teams for the next steps without compromising on delivery.
Getting tech-ready for Brexit
Brexit legislations and regulations inevitably slowed down processes that were in place. Many CFOs weren’t properly prepared for the new requirements when importing and exporting goods to and from the UK and the EU.
Rather than a single event, Brexit will see CFOs face a series of smaller obstacles over time. The investment in Cloud-based software and accounting automation will significantly reduce manual reporting while trying to keep on top of upcoming changes. Speed and agility will be key for CFOs and finance professionals as they prepare for upcoming Brexit rollouts.
Optimising digital transformation
Before the pandemic, many finance teams planned their analysis and projects around quarterly reporting and monthly closing. The uncertainty of how the pandemic would impact businesses accelerated the necessity for real-time reporting, insights, updates and scenario planning to CEOs, board members and key stakeholders.
Our Trends Survey Report found that more than three quarters of business leaders said one of the legacies of Covid-19 will be to shift their organisation to a digital-first mindset.
Collaboration via Cloud-based software while working from home during the pandemic demonstrated reliable delivery could be achieved virtually anywhere. CFOs discovered that many finance roles, which were previously considered ‘office-based’, were able to be fulfilled whilst working remotely.
Technology on its own has not been a silver bullet for business continuity and survival. It has required finance teams to adapt to new ways of working. CFOs and Finance Directors are now leading the way through the introduction of agility and productivity to work practices.
Automated accounting and finance processes have also minimised the amount of manual work previously carried out by finance teams. With focus on higher-value work, CFOs have become more nimble in making quicker decisions about business operations.
It’s clear that during these unpreceded times, creating stability, structure and strategy through Cloud technology continues to be the key for business continuity and survival.
Looking to the future
The accelerated adoption of Cloud technology over the past year provided CFOs and Finance Directors the opportunity to reshape and refine the way data is captured, stored and shared from finance teams to other departments. From forecasting and budgeting to processing VAT returns, the automation of manual tasks has allowed CFOs and finance teams to focus on higher value work.
Though new ways of working aren't set in stone, the adoption of Cloud technology has enabled Finance Directors to embrace the future through digital transformation, and through hybrid working structures.
“We at Advanced, and many other businesses around the country aren’t in a rush to go back to the way we were before. Evolving to hybrid working structures will have a positive influence on the employee experience.” - Andrew Hicks - CFO > Advanced
CFOs still have a prominent role to play in business continuity and survival when positioning their organisation to thrive in the ‘new normal’. Financial planning, strategy and analysis functions still need to be considered for multiple scenarios as we continue to navigate through the pandemic.
But we mustn’t forget the innovations and achievements that have been made in a short amount of time. CFOs and Finance Directors have not stood still in the last 12 months as the whole industry continues to build back better, stronger and faster ways of working through digital transformation.
Register for free to watch on demand
- The effects of Brexit on CFOs and finance teams in the UK
- How can technology help with managing new Brexit rules and regulations?
- Managing and supporting your team during the pandemic
- Has technology helped change the finance team for the better?
- How has Covid-19 affected the way finance teams work?
Speakers - Andrew Hicks > CFO, Advanced, Ian McLaren > CFO/CTR/London Midland, Chris Burke > CEO, Brickendon