The corporate world seems to be changing rapidly, and the accounting and finance industry is no exception. Gone are the days when finance teams spent all their time on a day-to-day, transactional tasks, and recordkeeping. Finance roles are changing in new and exciting ways, with the focus on financial planning and analysis higher than ever before.
Additionally, the expectations of business leaders from finance professionals seem to have increased with time. The traditional finance department used to be a completely separate function, focusing solely on carrying out its duties. However, the finance professionals of today need to be a lot more involved in the running of the business, providing their organizations with strategic direction and assisting in high-level decision making.
What does all this mean for finance professionals? It merely means you need to be aware of some of the challenges that you are likely to face once you will start your career so that you can prepare yourself for them.
To help you out, here is our list of the top challenges currently faced by finance professionals:
1. TECHNOLOGY IS REPLACING SOME OF THE TRADITIONAL ACCOUNTING FUNCTIONS
Automation and AI are gradually becoming capable of performing some of the duties traditionally performed by accountants, such as compiling transactions and using them to produce tax returns and financial statements. Moreover, automation will take over the routine, recurring tasks such as tax calculations and payroll processing, freeing up the time of finance professionals for more value-adding work such as financial planning, analysis, and risk management.
Does this mean you could lose your job? While technology can take over certain accounting functions, humans will still be needed to verify the work done by automated technology. In such a situation, finance professionals who can adapt to these new systems will continue to be in high demand as they are the ones who will help businesses implement and use the technology.
2. THE NEED TO LEARN NEW SKILLS
As technology reduces demand for some of the traditional accounting skills such as bookkeeping, processing transactions and maintaining extensive records, other skills such as those related to analysis, forecasting, and financial strategy are likely to grow in importance with time. Professionals who wish to be competitive in the future job market need to learn these skills.
A degree in finance can be useful for this purpose as it covers all these areas. It can help you develop the technical and analytical skills needed to assess large amounts of financial data and use it for forecasting and decision-making. Finance experts are also able to offer financial advice to help their clients manage liquidity, control costs, and make sound investment decisions. Make sure to read more about the challenges and opportunities that a finance degree offers before deciding if it’s the right option for you.
3. CYBERSECURITY CONCERNS
Accounting information is one of the hottest targets for hackers. Whether it is bank account details, credit card information, or passwords to accounting systems, all these are high-value pieces of information about a business for a hacker.
With the rapid increase in cybersecurity attacks, it is the responsibility of accounting and finance professionals to have all the necessary measures in place to protect financial data. They must ensure the accounting software is regularly updated as these updates often involve protection against the latest security risks. Access to financial data should get restricted to only those who need it to perform their job duties. Additionally, cloud-based systems are considered more secure than traditional software, so businesses should consider whether the switch to the cloud can be a suitable option for them.
4. IMPORTANCE OF DEVELOPING SOFT SKILLS
With time, it has become increasingly important for finance professionals to develop soft skills. From being a separate function to playing a central part in managing the organization, the roles and responsibilities of the finance department have changed. The gap that previously existed between finance and other departments is gradually closing. Therefore, if finance professionals wish to liaise with other departments effectively, they need to work on building their communication and interpersonal skills. Doing so will allow them to connect with other stakeholders of the business and gain their trust.
Unfortunately, soft skills are something that most finance professionals lack. Their nature of work has always been such that their interactions were limited. But if the finance professionals of today wish to become successful business partners, they need the training to develop these skills.
5. THE NEED TO PROVIDE REAL-TIME DATA
Real-time data has become all the rage nowadays. As the accounting systems become computerized, many finance departments tend to provide the management with information that is up-to-date and reflects the exact position of the company at any point in time.
Although real-time data is something every finance department aims for, it is not as easy to achieve as it looks. The main reason being that many finance departments still rely on spreadsheets for their day-to-day tasks, even if this means duplication of work. Worksheets are just more convenient, and it will take some time before finance professionals can commit to replacing them entirely.
Finance professionals need to understand the challenges facing their industry because only then can they come up with suitable strategies to overcome them. The good news is that many professionals are finding ways to respond to these challenges by continuing to update their knowledge and skills in line with the latest developments in their field.