2022 Finance & Accounting predictions

By David Brightman, Director of Product Marketing at BlackLine 1. Finance & Accounting organizations will

By David Brightman, Director of Product Marketing at BlackLine

1. Finance & Accounting organizations will migrate to a hybrid work model in which CFOs provide the tools to finance staff to productively work from anywhere.

During a period of pronounced uncertainty in 2021, finance staff at many organizations pulled off the impossible, effectively closing the books on time and even taking a stab at earnings forecasts—from their homes. Having proven their mettle, finance staff (and other knowledge workers) in the future will continue to seek employment opportunities that adhere to the “work from anywhere” model.

Nearly two-thirds of U.S.-based employees in a 2021 survey by McKinsey & Co. said that COVID-19 had caused them to reexamine their “individual purpose”—what they’re doing in life and work and what they want to be doing in the future. The top three reasons employees are quitting are because they don’t feel valued by their organization, they don’t feel valued by their manager, and they don’t feel a sense of belonging at work, McKinsey discovered. Finance & Accounting organizations that fail to provide this value will fall victim to The Great Resignation as it persists through 2022.

In 2022, as the “work from anywhere” model takes firmer hold, Finance & Accounting organizations will invest in tools and technologies that help their employees execute work tasks and better manage their time, whether it be automation for repetitive, time-consuming tasks, or collaboration tools that help teams find more productive and enjoyable ways to connect.

At the same time, finance staff will have a greater voice in their company’s positions on issues like diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging (DEIB) and environmental, social and governance (ESG). In these regards, CFOs will seek people with traditional financial skills, in addition to interpersonal skills like leadership, empathy, and adaptability, and cognitive skills like critical thinking, project management and decision-making.

2. Demand for multiskilled F&A Teams will Intensify as corporate functions seek more insightful business intelligence for decision-making.

CFOs will look to recruit talent with a combination of both traditional finance & accounting (F&A) proficiencies and broad-based software and technology skills. One without the other is ineffective to reach or surpass their desired standard of performance.

The next stages of digital transformation will drive this growing demand for multiskilled talent. Finance teams will be tasked with advising colleagues across functions on the strategic meaning of real-time financial metrics like revenues, capital availability, liquidity and net profit, as well as more subjective metrics like pipeline aging, on time deliveries, days sales outstanding, customer satisfaction and employee engagement.

Since each function produces its own data, finance organizations will be tasked with using machine learning and other cognitive computing tools to assess this data in relationship to real-time financial information. To convert wide-ranging performance data into insights for each function’s decision-making needs, the finance organization increasingly will encompass individuals with broad business knowledge and technology skills.

3. The role of the CFO will expand to include ESG oversight

The demand among institutional investors like State Street, Vanguard and BlackRock for publicly available information on a company’s ESG risks will increase in 2022, leading to the likelihood of public company ESG reporting requirements. In anticipation of ESG data being audited and assured, each of the big four audit firms and major management consulting firms have already developed offerings providing professional-grade audits and/or assurance of climate change disclosures.

As the business and strategic partner to the CEO, CFOs will step up to become the executive sponsor of their organization’s ESG initiative, developing the governance structure and control environment for the company’s environmental, social and governance factors and risks, while providing ESG oversight, monitoring and accountability.

CFOs are the logical candidate to lead the ESG initiative. Their responsibilities already entail ensuring that the financial report is accurate, complete and verifiable, according to GAAP accounting standards and disclosures. Given their knowledge of GAAP and how to prepare a financial statement, CFOs will ensure that ESG data receives the same attention and care as other financial data reported in the financial statement.

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