Nov 22, 2012

The Future of Finance: New Skills for New Demands

November 22, 2012 - The Finance function plays a critical and irreplaceable role in understanding the entire flow of business within an enterprise, its leverage and pulse points. In this tight, rapidly-changing economy, that knowledge is critical to keeping companies competitive. Because Finance is the only department that sees across the entire enterprise, organizations in which Finance does not play a strategic role in furtherance of enterprise goals are losing a huge opportunity.

Recently I sat down with CIMA to discuss their new report, “New Skills, Existing Talent.” CIMA found that top-performing organizations are already assigning Finance professionals broader roles and responsibilities, a trend I see as irreversible given that the top performers have freed their executives to focus on such activities by leveraging alternative capabilities for accomplishing routine transactional activities. There are, however certain barriers that prevent other organizations from making the same leap: fear of change, the complexity of their operating model, or the belief that Finance is supposed to perform a control function, which can prevent executives from looking for new ways of doing things.

I also believe that in order for Finance to undertake the broader remit, a certain broader business acumen is required in order to be a true business partner within the organization. The technical skills a Finance professional required in the past—how to interpret GAAP or how to do variance or treasury analysis and interpret regulations—have become basic skills. To deal with emerging needs, these professionals also need new skills such as how to manage systemic risk, how to create flexible operating structures and models and how to think from the perspective of operating leverage rather than strictly financial leverage. Such new ways of thinking must be coupled with the old, core financial skills in order to attain the insights required to help guide the business forward.

About the author

Shantanu Ghosh

Shantanu Ghosh

Global Business Leader, Enterprise Services

Shantanu Ghosh is the global business leader responsible for Genpact's service lines that cut across all industry verticals – Finance & Accounting (F&A), Sourcing and Procurement, Customer Service, and Enterprise Performance Management – along with Risk Management and Supply Chain Management services. In addition, he built and previously led Genpact’s Consulting business for the past several years, creating a growth engine for the company.