Are financial officers human?

By Alwyn Pretorius, GM at Infinitus Reporting Solutions

Are financial officers human?
Alwyn Pretorius General Manager at Infinitus Reporting Solutions creators of Finnivo®

No, this is not another rant about AI taking jobs from finance professionals, topical as the subject may be right now. Rather, it’s a commentary on the finance industry at large and the increasingly and crucially central role that financial officers in particular play in businesses.

We are all aware of the stereotypical notions that have typically surrounded finance teams. Terms like bean-counters or number crunchers have long been used to describe them, because they are trusted with those aspects of a business that keep the doors open and the lights on. Accountants were banished to the realm of the finance department that people only ever dared venture into when they needed a payment made or queried.

Today, the role financial managers play within the business context is far less remote and detached. More than reporting on historical results and ensuring compliance and good governance, financial officers have become trusted advisors, industry experts, and a critical support arm within businesses.

This is due in great part to technology steering businesses into new and sometimes even uncomfortable territory. Finance professionals must also embrace digitisation and automation, or risk not only falling into the ‘black hole’ of professional irrelevance but missing out on more efficient ways of working.

This means that choosing more robust, fit-for-purpose reporting, planning and analysis tools and solutions should be a priority, instead of sticking to legacy systems and laborious reporting processes that are not as efficient as modern-day industries demand.

For instance, Finnivo™ consolidation, reporting and planning software automates data collection to eliminate the time-drain of doing so manually, while offering extensive analysis capabilities. This ensures that financial officers are using their time where it matters – gaining valuable insights from financial and other enterprise related data and presenting meaningful outputs that aid various stakeholders in their decision-making.

Since financial managers have also taken on a more strategic ‘consultancy-based’ role within businesses, they are also equipped and effective at helping stakeholders better understand how data can be used to measure performance and predict likely outcomes. They now offer more nuanced and informed insight.

These shifts in how financial officers work, and the expectations businesses place on them, has forced the need for collaboration with every other department within businesses. Rather than the silos that once existed, we now find that the ‘bean-counters’ need to work hand in hand with everyone from marketing to operational teams within a business to ensure financial goals and overall business objectives are aligned.

To make this interaction worthwhile and effective, they need to be seen as being as ‘human’ as everyone else.

Financial managers are far more than number crunchers and their expertise go beyond fact and figures. With the amount of data that passes by their fingertips, they are far too often an untapped source of incredible insight, and their input is still more valuable than any machine-learning system can muster. They remain an under-utilised asset in businesses, and many are selling themselves short if they aren’t embracing digital technology and more efficient ways of working.