Experts Advocate Intelligent Finance Operations in Nigeria

Finance experts have been advised to evolve finance functions, acquire the right skills and embrace technology to remain relevant in a rapidly changing economic clime.

These were the submissions of speakers at the second edition of the CGMA Speaks Series, organised by the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA) in Lagos with the theme: “Future of Finance.”

At the event moderated by the Executive Vice President, Academics, the Association of International Certified Professional Accountants (AICPA), Noel Tagoe, the speakers also emphasised the need for finance professionals to understand and translate data into insight for right decision-making by chief executive officers.

Executive Chairman, Financial Reporting Council of Nigeria (FRCN), Dotun Sulaiman, who presided over the event, said finance functions run the risk of being altered by forces of change from the global economy, including demography, urbanisation, scarcity of resources and technology.

He, however, stated that as a broad response to the changing role of finance, “it is important for finance to take a keen interest in technology innovations and keep abreast of developments and for finance executives to familiarise themselves with technology innovations.”

He cautioned that organisations that are blindsided by technology innovations would lose out on the long run. Senior Partner, KPMG Nigeria, Kunle Elebute, who was represented by the firm’s Head of Risk Consulting, Olumide Olayinka, said organisations must operate intelligent finance functions.

He charged chief financial officers (CFOs) to use business intelligence tools such as the enterprise resource planning software and decision support tools to mitigate future financial risks.

Also speaking, Managing Director, Chapel Hill Denham Management, Onouju Irukwu, said finance professionals should operate beyond numbers by turning available data into insights to earn the respect of their superiors and clients.

She added that accountants must evolve and change their orientation from being pure accountants to business-oriented accountants. The Head of Finance, SAP West Africa, Gbemisola Adelowore, emphasised the need for finance professionals to work with data specialists to know where and how to acquire the relevant information.

“Before they work with data, it is important that finance professionals actually work with the number crunchers in directing them on where to get the data and the kind of data to get because you know, garbage in is garbage out.” “If you don’t have the right data or right source of information, then the output will not be helpful at all,” she said.