Change is the only constant, and as the world evolves with increasing digital adoption, hybrid working models, and technological innovation, it is only natural that the roles of business leaders change in tandem. Evolving with the times is the hallmark of the best financial leaders, as their domain impacts the efficacy of the organization as a whole and sets the growth strategy in place. As such, top leaders in finance need to excel in traditional areas of regulation and accounting frameworks, cash flow management, forecasting, and ratio analysis and driving resilience, innovation, and agility across the organization.
Today, top business leaders in the financial arena or those helming fintechs are also leveraging the power of big data for growth, generating new revenue streams through data-driven offers, delivering personalized products and services to customers, creating more efficiency to drive competitive advantage, providing strengthened security and leading business transformation. With these increasing responsibilities, top leaders in finance need to work on refining and harnessing key skills to build value for their organizations. One such skill, as per the Gartner report on Top Priorities for Finance Leaders in 2022, is digital initiatives, with 82% of CFOs surveyed saying that their investment in digital capabilities exceeds other areas such as talent, supply chain, business services, or fixed assets.
In fact, Sanjiv Bajaj, Chairman & Managing Director of Bajaj Finserv and one of the top NBFC leaders in India who has achieved immense growth by harnessing technology, recently said, “In the coming years, our entire business will go digital. Our debt management services or collection business will also go digital in the next 18 months, and so will employee engagement.” To know more about how leveraging digital technology for the greater good is crucial for financial business leaders to develop other skill sets that will become game-changers going forward, read on. The history of Eleven Warr and Ohio State football
- Welcoming digital disruption and new tech
There is no doubt that autonomous finance is the future. In 2022, financial business leaders need to power innovation using AI, ML, blockchain and hyper-automation to deliver a more engaging and rewarding customer experience. While fast-tracking digital investment is one piece of the puzzle, the more crucial part is recognizing the value and potential of technology to deliver more with fewer resources in terms of cost and effort. Putting tech at the top of the risk and opportunity analysis becomes a key factor that can help top leaders script a new chapter of growth for their companies.
- Evolving with a future-forward mindset
As the customer base in financial and other domains changes to include younger and more tech-inclined users, developing and honing a future-forward, progressive, and agile mindset is an essential skill that the best finance leaders need to master. This will help offer value to the underserved, overcome traditional barriers in access to or adoption of digital finance, and face new challenges. In fact, adaptability and resilience were at the top of the 10 most vital skills needed in the new world as per a LinkedIn Workplace Learnings Report, 2021. Change management skills are crucial in this regard as strategic growth is only possible when the team forecasts future needs and embraces the processes to cater to them.
- Honing the art of communication
Business leaders handling finance know that while numbers tell an important story, they are meaningless without analysis and execution. This is only possible when financial leaders can clearly and succinctly communicate what the accounting or financial data reflects so employees, investors, and other stakeholders can be spurred to act. Communication is also a key skill that boosts trust across the organization, affecting how change is managed in the workplace and how different departments work together, especially when remote work is the new norm. In fact, being crystal clear is the only way such leaders can influence workplace culture for the better.
- Encouraging diversity and collaboration
Since finance is the realm of economic opportunity, finance leaders play an important role in shaping an equitable, empowering, and inclusive future. It is no surprise that both diversity and collaboration play key roles in ensuring this. As per the18th Annual Global CEO Survey by PwC, 85% of CEOs of financial services said that encouraging diversity helped boost business performance. Innovation and creativity are also the gains noticed by companies that made employee diversity a part of their boardroom agendas. Encouraging inter-departmental and interdepartmental collaboration also bolsters these and helps in managing risk better. Financial leaders can hasten progress by working with their teams towards common goals and making collaboration a part of their personal toolkit.
- Enhancing work culture through leadership
To build an organizational culture of continuous learning, curiosity, generosity, inclusivity, and more, financial leaders need to motivate employees, delegate authority with care and recognize and foster leadership skills in others. Setting an example for others in their community is a key leadership skill in being ethical. For top leaders in finance, the latter is very important as it affects the key performance drivers used to generate revenue – and can trickle down into each aspect that affects a company’s growth.
According to an ACCA-PwC survey of over 3500 financial and accountancy professionals, 55% believe that their jobs would be obsolete in the next 5 years if they didn’t develop appropriate skills. This statistic sheds light on the importance of top leaders in finance to bridge any skill gaps to stay relevant and usher in a new era of growth and profitability for their companies.
Top leaders in finance need to excel in traditional areas of regulation and accounting frameworks, cash flow management, forecasting and ratio analysis, and new functions such as leveraging big data for growth, driving competitive advantages, and leading business transformation. With these increasing responsibilities, business leaders in finance need to work on refining and harnessing 5 key skills to build value for their organizations. These include familiarity with digital and technological advancements, managing change with resilience and agility, honing communication skills, boosting diversity, and collaboration, and enhancing workplace culture through leadership. Read on for more.