The CFO’s role has already changed and now goes way beyond crunching numbers, auditing and taxation management. Today’s market demands that their CFOs be more involved in supporting the operational and strategic decision making of their client companies. This means that now, more than ever, CFOs are regarded as essential team players relied on heavily by management.
At the recent CPA conference, there was a lot of discussion around the future of the Accountancy sector, with many expressing concern at the commoditization of many traditional accountancy services, and an acknowledgement of the necessity to embrace other value-adding services as a way of maintaining relevance (and profitability) within the
changing market. The CPA shared their Client (Growth) Advisory Services strategy with their members as a real opportunity to be embraced by its members. This is an area that has previously been undervalued by many accountancy practices but is now in huge demand by the market. Many accountancy bodies, and practices are moving to embrace this emerging growth opportunity, with many investing heavily in up-skilling and cross-skilling their professionals to meet the market demand. There are some technological solutions that can make this process easier, but the real value appears when supported by the expertise that only an experienced CFO can bring.
If accountants truly hate change, why would they embrace it?
They must decide if the risk of becoming obsolete in the changing market is greater than the risk of embracing the changes in market behavior and demand. For many accountants, their brand of expertise is so specialized they know that they will never become obsolete. For many others, however, particularly those who work primarily with the mid-market, this threat of being left behind is very real.
2. Client Value:
Driving long term value for both their organization, and their clients, goes beyond just increasing the efficiency of internal teams. The main focus here should be considering how decisions are made within organizations. What types of information are now considered essential to facilitate data-driven decision making, and how does the accountant add value to this data?
There are many financial planning & analytics software solutions on the market. Does the value come from these solutions?
Or perhaps the real value comes from a combination of client-specific business insights with the added layer of operational and strategic advice from an accountant / growth advisor who truly understands not only the numbers and trends, but how they will impact on their client
company and their growth plans.
3. Data Simplification:
Overly complex systems can be detrimental to your teams and slow down overall efficiency. If your team is spending too much time navigating systems to complete tasks, they are not able to focus on value-added activities.
Over the past few years, many software solutions have been developed to simplify complex accounting tasks and processes. Many recognize that these bring efficiencies to non-value adding activities, allowing time to be better spent in value-adding activities.
More recently, we see Artificial Intelligence being brought into play to power up the advantages of these automated processes, adding deep cross-business insights at the fingertips, giving access to real-time decision-making data previously unheard of.
As market demands and conditions change, your organization’s strategies must also transform to meet internal and external needs. These strategy transitions need to be made across the entire organization and include everything from how data-driven analytics are accessed and interpreted, down to how they are used in the day-to-day management of the organization
The most successful transformations are based around data and how it is viewed and utilized within an organization. This includes using more hard data and analytics in your decision-making process and creating a culture that does the same. People must be willing to change the way they do things in order to truly move forward with the market.
5. Organization Strategic Alignment
The last point in this article is about strategic alignment. To make a successful change within the accountancy organization requires alignment to culture, values, and strategy across the entire organization. It also requires solid commitment from the leadership team.
By successfully completing a strategic alignment to market demand significantly improves not only the efficiency, but also the market positioning and competitive advantage of your organization within the market.
So, I asked the question ‘If accountants truly hate change, why would they embrace it?’
It would be foolish to assume that all accountants hate change. Very many embrace it with great enthusiasm when it makes sense to do so, and when they can see the value that it brings to them, their organization, and their client base.
For others, it is not necessary to change. There is a demand for the services that they provide, and that is not waning.
So, I think I will change my question: ‘With the market now clamoring for access to your expertise, why wouldn’t you embrace it?’
Brenda Jordan, AICPA CGMA BBS, CEO & Founder, SOBI Analytics