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The Evolving Role of Finance Specialists: Adapting to Change and Embracing New Opportunities

CAREERSThe Evolving Role of Finance Specialists: Adapting to Change and Embracing New Opportunities

Frequent regulatory changes and technological advances are forcing finance specialists to continually acquire new skills, train, and update their knowledge. However, those who can adapt to rapid changes and support business development with their skills can expect greater career development opportunities. “Finance operates in a world that is changing faster and faster. This means that in the future, people in the financial sector will have to devote a lot more energy to keep up with the pace,” says Kuba Neneman, head of, commercial data science manager at Shell.

As pointed out by the participants of the panel discussion titled “How to evolve with trends?”, held during the event AICPA & CIMA Money Talks: Future of Finance 2.0, finance and accounting specialists increasingly often also take on strategic advisory roles in their organizations. One of the challenges in the future will be the growing importance of ESG and non-financial reporting concerning, among other things, the impact of business operations on environmental and social issues.

The “Future of Finance 2.0” study by AICPA & CIMA (which together form the Association of International Certified Professional Accountants) shows that technologies – including cloud solutions, automation and advanced data analysis – are increasingly influencing the financial industry. They are used, among other things, to speed up accounting processes, detect irregularities in reporting or streamline the work of financial specialists, who can thus focus on more strategic tasks. The result is increased efficiency, fewer errors in documentation and cost savings. In the coming years, artificial intelligence will also play an increasing role in the industry – programs in the cloud using AI already automate routine processes, saving specialists a lot of time.

“Practically every aspect of financial work can be supported by artificial intelligence. I don’t want to make long-term predictions, but it can certainly be said that interaction with artificial intelligence will be an indispensable part of the work of practically every specialist in finance. For those who master it best, increasingly interesting career paths will open up,” says Kuba Neneman to the Newseria information agency.

Technological progress in finance means that specialists in this industry must constantly acquire new skills. However, – apart from solid digital competencies – interpersonal skills are still necessary, which will enable smooth communication and cooperation within the entire organization.

“In addition to these basic skills, such as financial knowledge, understanding accounting standards, tax law, I would primarily add technology. However, the next thing is soft skills, interpersonal skills – these are also competencies for the future, this is something that distinguishes us as people,” emphasizes the Shell expert.

“A deeper business knowledge will also be needed to enable cooperation with other departments and financial positions within the organization, which will also be largely related to technology,” adds Adam Thorne, VP Finance, CFO Orthopaedics International at Smith+Nephew.

In addition to technology, in recent years a trend is also the growing importance of finance and accounting specialists, who increasingly often take on strategic advisory roles in their organizations, supporting them in risk management, better use of resources and building long-term value. The report “Future of Finance 2.0: The changing role and mandate of finance” by AICPA & CIMA shows that they increasingly play the role of expert analysts, communicators, decision makers and business partners who develop their organizations internally and influence the business models implemented.

“The role of finance is becoming broader, which will require us to have skills in solving multi-domain problems. These will no longer be problems related only to taxes or financing costs, these will be complex problems, often touching on environmental issues,” says Kuba Neneman.

“In the future, there will be a strong emphasis on risk management. We will have to focus more on internal audits in combination with external ones,” emphasizes Michel Paca, head of Poland FAC for Region Switzerland in UBS.

“In finances, the focus is shifting from the role of a traditional accountant, who provides hard data and financial reports, towards being more of a business partner, a person providing information and data for making better business decisions. And as this profession is changing, it is worth investing and developing all kinds of soft skills – especially stakeholder management, negotiation skills and communication because they help in delivering quality business partnership,” adds Aleksandra Stelmach-Gryszka, director in the Global Business Services Consulting and Finance Transformation Consulting department at PwC Poland.

She points out that the financial and accounting industry is also under constant regulatory pressure, which requires specialists from this area to continually educate themselves on new regulations and update their knowledge. One of the new tasks of finance departments and accounting experts is also non-financial reporting, related to sustainable development and ESG (environmental, social and governance) factors, which include care for the environment, social issues and the way of conducting business. The role of ESG and non-financial reporting is becoming more significant, due to the regulatory requirements of the European Union, but also pressure from customers and investors.

“Constant changes in regulations in the field of finance and increasing requirements for the profession entail the need to stay up-to-date, for example in terms of changes in IFRS or ESG reporting,” says Aleksandra Stelmach-Gryszka.

According to last year’s report “The State of Play in Sustainability Assurance”, developed by AICPA & CIMA and the International Federation of Accountants (IFAC), organizations attach increasing importance to ESG reporting and related attestation – in 2021, approximately 95% of large organizations revealed information regarding their impact on the environment and society. However, due to the lack of uniform, globally recognized standards, providing investors with consistent, comparable and quality information on sustainable development remains a major challenge.

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