Digital Transformation » Five ways data is changing the role of the finance professional

The data revolution has opened the doors to a new world and the role of the finance professional as we know it is set to change.

In short, this means that in order to continue to be seen as a value-added service or department, finance professionals must evolve to keep up with ever-changing technologies.

Laura Timms product strategy manager at MHR Analytics explores some of the biggest changes we can expect to see in the role over the coming years.

  1. From mathematician to business consultant

Traditionally, finance professionals had to rely on historical, internal data to draw insights.

Not only was this data limited in scope, but it failed to give a full perspective of how decisions today would impact the future.

Now, the introduction of predictive analytics has helped moved finance professional’s analysis from asking “why did it happen?” to exploring “what will happen next?”.

Access to in-depth insights will enable finance professionals to track customer data in real-time and evolve from simply keeping of records, to carrying out in-depth analysis of the data.

Gone are the days of working discretely behind the scenes as the “number cruncher” of the business. The future of the role will increasingly see finance professionals using value-added analytics to position themselves as a strategic voice within a business.

Their unique visibility of the holistic position of the business will allow them to analyse and interpret anomalies and trends. This information can then be passed to the internal stakeholders to help them to make value-added decisions.

  1. Remote working

The introduction of Cloud computing has taken the reigns off the finance professional.

Previously bound to the place of work or client’s offices, Cloud will work to exchange the cubicle lifestyle for more flexible working, with such roles able to be carried out anywhere.

The enhanced security of Cloud systems will allow finance professionals to unlock and share insights wherever they are, without having to worry about the traditional repercussions associated with handling sensitive data outside of the confines of the office.

Plus, a rise in businesses opting for a single online system, with all data in one place, creates simplicity without the need for multiple bulky applications.

Soon finance professionals will be able to share their analysis with their team at a click of a button and have a real-time view of what’s going on in their business whether they’re at home or on the go.

  1. Use of non-financial data

Financial data has long been the cornerstone of the finance professional’s work. It was from this data that patterns were spotted, reports were created and recommendations were made.

But the truth is that financial data alone only tells part of the story. As other types of data become more widely available, this will be increasingly used to further enrich financial insights.

Customer behaviour patterns can be used to detect fraud and suspicious activity, and supplier data can be used to anticipate shipment information so that this can be considered when creating forecasts.

Finance professionals can even use internal data such as employee performance metrics to identify the ROI that each employee provides to the organisation, so that they can make recommendations accordingly.

Implementing such data into the review process works to improve top-line revenue and injects further value to financial insights. Research by FSN on planning, budgeting, and forecasting backs this up, with findings revealing that CFOs that make good use of non-financial data are able to forecast with 90-95% accuracy.

  1. Highest ever standard of service

The rise of data analytics is facilitating an augmented workplace. In simple terms, we’ll see a rise in tasks that previously had to be completed by people, instead being carried out by machines.

Augmented analytics will allow much of the tedious administrative duties that have long been central to the finance professional’s role to be traded in for a more efficient way of working.

It will work to process data, bring it into context and lead in getting answers from it; giving more time for people to generate deeper insights for the business.

This technology will leverage finance professionals’ expertise, enabling them to focus on providing a higher quality service than ever. This will raise the bar in the industry, with businesses and clients alike recognising the direct impact that such roles have on their bottom-line.

  1. Emergence of data-driven roles

The augmentation of traditional roles will see the emergence of data-driven alternatives to traditional bookkeeping and accounting roles.

As data becomes more and more central to the finance professional’s role, and as organisations become increasingly reliant on finance professional’s insights to drive their business strategy, the mutualistic relationship between finance and data will become ever more apparent.

In the near future, all finance professionals will be expected to have some knowledge of data analytics. But leading up to this, we’ll see the emergence of data science hybrid roles that will form out of businesses’ demand for data-savvy specialists.

This means seeking extra training to become proficient in data analytics sooner rather than later will help finance professionals stand out from the crowd and solidify their knowledge before this becomes a necessity.

To learn how to get more out of your financial data, download MHR Analytics’ guide: Getting the most out of your finance data.