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North American Finance Executives are Rising to the Challenge

January 26, 2016 by Babak Ghoreyshi 10

The future looks bright for a career in finance, according to a recent CFO Research survey of 488 finance professionals in North America, 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 North America (comprising the US and Canada, for this survey), 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 North America are embracing their influence in their enterprises—and looking forward to a bright future as their profession evolves. More than eight in ten (84%) 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 (89%) expect their work will continue to become more interesting, meaningful, and valuable over the next five years.

In North America, 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 (37%) predict that the information technology (IT) function will come under finance’s purview, followed by the HR (32%), M&A (28%), and Risk Management (28%) functions.

Finance teams across North America will be challenged to fulfill their core performance-management mandate in the face of rapid change and greater business complexity. A large majority of survey respondents (90%) 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 88% of the respondents, success will also mean being able to translate the flow of data into swift and decisive action.

Lastly, finance professionals in North America see the rising wave of digitization and automation as the key to their ability to partner with the business to manage performance. For 75% 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, a large majority (82%) 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.

For detailed study results and more information, download “Thriving in the Digital Economy: Four Reasons Why Finance Is Excited about the Future.”

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