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The future of finance and technology

13 May 2019
Alex Knight 199368 Unsplash

​Mason Alexander were delighted to host the latest Leadership Lunch Series last Thursday. Associate Director Susan Dwyer brought together 10 strong thought leaders to discuss finance, technology and people. The discussion centred around how the finance function is changing and the part that technology has to play.

Automation and where it’s taking us

The Leadership Lunch began with participants discussing technology itself and how it is resulting in a more automated finance function. Some of which included, more efficient ERP systems, Data analytics, SAAS, Blockchain. There is a concern that introducing more technology into finance will run the risk of people losing their jobs, but it was agreed that embracing technology to benefit the finance function cuts down on mundane tasks and frees up people’s time to get more involved in other projects.
None of the attendees have made cuts in staff numbers, even though they have all adopted more technology.
It was agreed by all that tech automation is changing the finance function in a good way and will ultimately result in a more productive finance function.

The Changing Face of Good Finance Talent

CFO’s have started abandoning many of the traditional ideas of a finance person. Digital finance talent is now in demand and highly sought after by hiring managers. Companies are now placing high value on traits such as adaptability, coachability and openness to change as well as technical capability. Areas such as business partnering demand good communication and influencing skills, and more than ever, candidates need to be literate in applicable technologies.

Retention Over Attraction

As Ireland reaches record levels of employment, the attraction and retention of key staff becomes a bigger issue. The market is flooded with job opportunities and as a result it is harder to attract and retain key staff. Although attracting these candidates can be a challenge, it seems that retaining staff poses a bigger problem. Reports show that employees are staying in positions for shorter periods of time than generations before and companies are now having to introduce concise retention strategies. Companies are now investing more and more time into their employees to ensure they feel fulfilled in their role.

Investing Time, Investing in the Future

In order to retain staff, companies are taking huge steps. We see companies introducing perks such as flexi-time, remote working and work from home to encourage a better work life balance. Companies are increasing salaries and organizing more social activities in order to hold onto staff, but still the level of people who are leapfrogging continues to increase.
It was revealed by one attendee that an effective way to increase retention amongst key staff is to invest time into mapping out individual career roadmaps and encourage learning and development within the organization. The conclusion was reached that if time was not invested in people, they would be more likely to leave.

Don’t Let Talent Go to Waste

Attendees also discussed that people in leadership positions must not get complacent with their employees. The biggest mistake a company can make is to keep successful people in the same role simply because they’re doing a good job. Good employees need to develop and upskill and not feel as though their role is getting stale.

More than anything, it is clear that the role of CFO has completely transformed over the last number of years and has evolved into something much more than just finance. They are strategists, leaders, influencers, business partners to the CEO and much more. They must continue to embrace technology and invest in their people in order to maximise performance and strengthen their business. Across all areas of business, technology continues to have a significant impact on all of us. Ultimately the highest performing teams will combine the intelligence of smart technologies with the brains and emotional intelligence of humans.