The future looks bright for a career in finance, according to a recent CFO Research survey of 202 finance professionals in the consumer industries around the world, but the effective use of technology will enable much of that success. The survey, sponsored by SAP, sought to gain a better understanding of the outlook for the finance function in the consumer industries, as well as what finance professionals from all levels saw as the source of their future success. Four key findings emerged from the research:
Finance professionals in the consumer industries are embracing their influence in their enterprises—and looking forward to a bright future as their profession evolves. Nearly than eight in ten (79%) survey respondents say that, over the course of their careers, their work in finance has exceeded expectations for interesting, meaningful, and valuable work. Even more respondents (80%) expect their work will continue to become more interesting, meaningful, and valuable over the next five years.
In the consumer industries, the organizational scope of the finance function—already broad—continues to expand to encompass risk management, IT, M&A, and other key functions. The largest percentage of survey respondents (32%) predict that the risk management function will come under finance’s purview, followed by the legal (30%) and M&A (29%) functions.
Finance teams across the consumer industries will be challenged to support their businesses and fulfill their core functions and ensure compliance in the face of rapid change and greater business complexity compounded by the move towards digitalization
Nearly eight in ten survey respondents (78%) agree that, over the next five years, their companies’ success will increasingly depend on their ability to adapt to the rapid pace of change and greater business complexity. For 79% of respondents, success will also mean being able to translate the flow of data into swift and decisive action.
Lastly, finance professionals in the consumer industries see the rising wave of digitalization and automation as the key to their ability to partner with the business to manage performance. For 74% of respondents, their companies’ success will depend on having instantaneous access to a “single version of the truth”—a unified, comprehensive, and fully up-to-date set of financial and performance data.
In addition, nearly three-quarters of survey respondents (73%) say that their companies must develop or acquire capabilities in advanced analytics that they do not possess today—that is, sophisticated analytical tools and methods to predict outcomes, assess risk, model complex business scenarios, and support management decision making.