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Majority Unprepared for Ongoing Tug O’ War in Accounting and Finance

Majority Unprepared for Ongoing Tug O' War in Accounting and Finance

Business leaders continue to struggle with finding the right balance in Accounting and Finance. Controllership is one of the major challenges in the ongoing tug of war in the financial accounting space. In a latest survey of accounting and finance professionals, majority of the respondents are “still unprepared” to meet demands for more insight and foresight, despite widespread transformation efforts already underway in Accounting and Finance.

What’s controllership in Financial Accounting?

In Finance and Accounting, controllership is as much leadership positioning as it is experience with working with Fintech and Data Science tools.  In essence, it could mean a mix of strategic and tactical responsibilities that helps in overcoming financial challenges arising due to the real-world circumstances.  These could focus on traditional core tasks that might increase risk, compromise assurance, or weaken the control environment.

In a survey of 1,300 finance and accounting professionals, analysts and decision-makers, 76% of the respondents said their organizations’ controllership functions have begun transformation journeys. Yet, nearly all (95%) reported that they have more work to do or aren’t progressing quickly enough. Moreover, another 65% admit their organizations’ controllership function is not prepared or is only somewhat prepared to meet future demands.

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Transformative Effect of COVID-19 Pandemic on Finance and Accounting

The survey report, titled “Stepping into the future of controllership: From accounting to insight,” also details the transformative effect the global COVID-19 pandemic has had on the finance and accounting function and how finance and accounting professionals can use that momentum to drive innovation within controllership and deliver more value to their organizations.

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Kyle Cheney
Kyle Cheney

“One lesson that has become clear from the pandemic is that driving digital capabilities within controllership is here to stay,” said Kyle Cheney, a Deloitte Risk & Financial Advisory partner, Deloitte & Touche LLP.

Kyle added, “Activities that were once considered components of ‘finance of the future’ — think digital enablement, analytics, data modeling, remote close — are now mainstays of the function. Controllers overwhelmingly know they need to transform, but that doesn’t change the fact that challenges on the journey to a more modern, strategic and digital controllership remain.”

Future State of Controllership with AI, Data Science and Business Analytics

A deeper analysis of respondents found a tug and pull between the current and future state of controllership, including maturity gaps across key controllership enabling and domain areas. Enablers, such as governance and compliance, ranked as the farthest along on the maturity continuum by 65% of responding finance professionals, while roughly half (46%) reported data and analytics to still be in their early maturity stages. Likewise, 56% of respondents identified financial planning and analysis (FP&A) as the domain area most in need of progress to meet the future demands of the controllership function.

Controllership in the Digital Age

Nearly two-thirds of surveyed professionals agree that advanced maturity levels, or those considered to be integrated or optimized, will be necessary across enabling and domain areas to meet the demands of the controllership function in the next three to five years. The report goes on to highlight actions that finance and accounting leaders can consider to increase their teams’ preparedness to perform in a fast-paced, complex, and increasingly Digital Age.

“Transformation in controllership isn’t just about adopting new technology — it’s also about how finance teams use that technology to become more strategic partners to the business,” said Loreal Jiles, IMA vice president of research and thought leadership and lead researcher on this study.

Loreal added, “Our hope is that controllers, CFOs and other finance and accounting leaders can use this year’s report as a road map to push the envelope on digital initiatives and break down organizational siloes to help support smarter, more agile, and resilient operations that can stand up to whatever challenges or disruptions may come next.”

Finance and Accounting professionals are expected to play a more strategic role in their pursuit of digital transformation. Every analysis points to the importance of controllership in organizations that are either laying or planning to lay their foundation in digital transformation using new-age tools and technologies.

So, what is your opinion about future of controllership? Let us know.

[To share your insights with us, please write to sghosh@martechseries.com]

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