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CFOs 'should embrace technology'

17/03/14

The intelligent use of new technology could add a great deal of value to the finance function within businesses and free up staff to get involved with other areas of their organisation, according to a new report from the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA).

Chief financial officers (CFOs) and their departments are currently not exploiting technological advances to their full potential, the study found.

It drew on the opinions of experts at leading firms such as Shell, Aviva, Kimberly-Clark, Deloitte and Accenture, suggesting that the "complex and fragmented" nature of the modern IT landscape is preventing CFOs from embracing all it can offer.

Jamie Lyon, head of the corporate sector at ACCA, suggested behaviour, vision and culture all need to change within the finance sector if tech is to be utilised properly.

"Leading companies have deployed technology to improve finance service delivery to the business, but the primary focus has really been around cost, efficiency and quality in transactional finance," he explained.

While this can certainly be useful, there are other ways CFOs can modernise their approach, with self-service finance and automating transactional finance processes all possibilities, argued Mr Lyon.

Deborah Kops, principal at Sourcing Change and co-author of the report, argued that mining data can be very important for the industry, improving its predictive powers and allowing it to engage more closely with consumers or fellow businesses.

"We should also acknowledge that the application of technology has the potential to change further what a finance career means," she declared.

If more processes are to be automated in the future, traditional jobs could be fundamentally altered, meaning professionals will need to consider how their skill-set prepares them for a different kind of career in the finance sector.

Despite concerns over data security, technology investment is on the up among finance firms as they attempt to improve efficiency levels across their operation. All staff need to be aware of the importance of keeping personal information safe if firms are to avoid fines and reputational damage.

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