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Maria Boldor, Principal At Horváth

Key Challenges & Opportunities

The report “Finance at the Crossroads of Coronavirus, Digitalisation and Sustainability” presents key challenges and opportunities for the business world

Management consulting company Horváth published the analysis this spring that summarises the views of more than 200 financial and commercial directors of companies from various industries in North America, Europe and Asia, pointing to the finance transformation

Shortages of skilled workers, bottlenecks in supply and production chains, cyberattacks and inadequate data security – these are just a few of the key challenges confronting companies’ operations according to the study “Finance at the Crossroads of Coronavirus, Digitalization and Sustainability”.

“In the desired organisation of the financial area, proficient users of digital methods with strong consulting skills are preferred over technical experts. CFOs don’t only implement ideas, but also proactively drive holistic transformation processes. The focus is on conducting data-driven analyses as the basis for sound recommendations to support decision-making. Also, the aligning of processes and organisational aspects is a prerequisite for integrated and crossfunctional collaboration. A strong, role-based finance organisation is the catalyst for efficiency and management support, while green topics are firmly established components of the functioning of finance,” explains Maria Boldor of management consulting company Horváth, adding that, in the target image, agility and virtuality shape the way finances work.

She estimates that the first steps in this transformation process were taken during the previous period. Firstly, there was the increased use of smart solutions that enable data collection and provide the basis for analysis. Secondly, ever more attention is being paid to empowering employees and, lastly, the pandemic accelerated the introduction of virtual models of cooperation and flexible processes.

CFOs must be strong role models who are able to motivate and persuade others, while also breaking down existing barriers and building bridges between functions

According to the study, as many as 66 per cent of companies see investing in automation and digitalisation as a key opportunity to further improve their business, while 46 per cent see great potential in the introduction of new forms of work that are flexible and agile.

Boldor points out that measures to ensure a holistic approach must now be on the agenda of CFOs, and believes that finance employees must strengthen their strategic position within the group as a whole.

“They stop being passive ‘bean counters’ and become proactive partners and advisors. CFOs need to identify the goal they want to achieve, and resolutely keep their team on the path of transformation. It is up to them to make the whole process understandable, clear and transparent, as well as to communicate the necessary measures and changes to their staff. This is the only way to positively influence the readiness for structural, procedural and cultural change,” advises Boldor.

Therefore, she concludes, the very need for change must be tangible, and CFOs must be strong role models who are able to motivate and persuade others, while also breaking down existing barriers and building bridges between functions. At the same time, CFOs help the green transformation within a company. They are responsible for new reporting requirements and for formulating and implementing a sustainable corporate strategy, but are also expected to check whether investments are aligned with the EU’s legal frameworks.

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