We are approaching the close of 2020, a 12 months compared with any other in the history of finance and accounting. The Covid-19 pandemic and its financial, social and political impacts have accelerated profound alterations in enterprise, work and life. CFOs and other finance professionals have put in considerably of the year trying to handle the challenges, but in 2021 they will be poised for executing extended-term strategies that will situation their companies for development and profitability, or as McKinsey suggests, “crisis managers with a extensive time period perspective.”

There are already optimistic symptoms that finance and accounting leaders and their teams are improved ready to navigate the latest local weather and are ready for future scenarios, like far more lockdowns or extra restrictions. For instance meals and beverage finance leaders immediately tailored to Covid by beefing up financial commitment in cellular applications and curbside pickup. They see alterations in consumers’ paying for behaviors (49% of consumers downloaded two or extra applications in the course of Covid for foodstuff and beverage purchases) as a everlasting development.

CFOs in other industries have also pivoted to technology to address Covid-relevant challenges. Organizations with hefty emphasis on resilient supply chains for profitability are looking at or have already applied a digital offer chain management technique, in accordance to McKinsey Consulting. These devices aid increased insights into the provide chain and with the aid of advanced analytics can give provider threat assessments, supplying the finance team with a way to predict disruptions before they materialize.  

Wanting forward to 2021, I endeavor to predict the technological know-how currently being carried out to solve Covid’s speedy problems will be embraced by companies, and their consumers, for the increased efficiencies and expense-personal savings they carry. Finance and accounting groups have an option to be leaders in these digital transformations.

Below are my leading six mega-craze predictions for 2021 in finance and accounting.

1. Automation will no for a longer time be debated. Plan, procedures-primarily based tasks will be automated. This was correct in advance of the pandemic, with over 50% of finance and accounting experts indicating automation would effect how their corporation performed its do the job in the following 1 to two many years in a Deloitte/IMA survey produced in August 2020. Through the pandemic, when the remote money shut grew to become a reality for most finance departments, individuals who had some automated procedures in put fared far better than all those that did not. Finance leaders are producing increased investments in cloud computing and software as a end result, no matter if the distant monetary close is right here to remain or turns into a hybrid solution.

2. Remote doing the job will come to be the norm for finance groups. In accordance to a June 2020 PwC survey, “54% of CFOs approach to make distant do the job a long lasting option.” Facilitating successful remote doing the job arrangements is a two-portion system. Initially, CFOs have to commit to supplying the proper technologies resources to their team. 2nd, they have to champion teamwork and collaboration amongst unique groups and cross-functionally, all over the corporation. Lack of in-person speak to can make employee engagement and productivity go through. It is essential for CFOs to construct and keep company tradition with the support of both equally HR and IT. Staff city halls, distinctive virtual situations and open up interaction with staff at all degrees of the organization are critical. CFOs must have a virtual open-doorway plan with workers and all stakeholders of the business. 

3. Environment, Social and Governance (ESG) reporting will come to be a lot more crucial. An presently-accelerating development pre-Covid, ESG will achieve new concentration, fulfilling shopper mandates for much more corporate duty, but also serving as an essential organizational risk mitigation device. Back again in May perhaps, I wrote an article for Forbes in which I reviewed how “intangible assets” like environmental or social possibility and/or impact had been rapidly getting to be far more vital for finance specialists when measuring and reporting organization performance. Nowadays, finance groups and senior management are improved able to join enhanced organizational effectiveness with implementation of sustainability measures. For occasion, companies can understand lowered expenditures when they limit their physical workplace footprints, but this also aids reduce environmental impacts. ESG will no lengthier be perceived as a price tag, but relatively a reward for organizations. A report printed by IMA (Institute of Management Accountants), the qualified corporation of which I am CEO, entitled “Finance Function Partnering For the Integration of Sustainability in Business,” provided a blueprint for how the finance purpose can properly get the job done cross-functionally to integrate economical and non-economical reporting.

4. Enterprise Possibility Management (ERM) turns into a finance accountability. If there is a single factor the Covid-19 pandemic has taught is, it’s that a crisis can emerge out of the blue and overtake all one’s ideas and anticipations for the potential. In May possibly I wrote an report for Forbes on how providers require to choose a much more proactive solution to Business Chance Management (ERM), and why the finance function is important to this initiative. The finance workforce has distinctive perception into a company’s financials and source chains, which had been wonderful resources of chance for world wide businesses for the duration of the pandemic, and they also have a framework for addressing ERM: the Committee of Sponsoring Companies of the Treadway Commission’s (COSO) Organization Danger Administration Framework. The COSO framework makes it possible for finance teams to preempt crisis management by concentrating on controlling pitfalls and preventing or minimizing concerns just before they come about, emphasizing Governance and Lifestyle, Strategy and Goal Environment, Effectiveness, Critique and Revision, and Information and facts, Communications and Reporting. In 2021, businesses will be superior-focused on mitigating hazards – be the environmental, reputational, or other – and the part of finance in prevention will develop into a lot more essential. In reality, making use of the COSO ERM framework adequately, administration accountants can much better anticipate and get ready for disruptions and organic disasters with programs and processes in spot for company continuity and remote perform.

5. Variety, Equity and Inclusion (DE&I) will be a competitive differentiator, in addition to remaining the ideal point to do from a main values standpoint. In 2019 The Wall Road Journal rated businesses in the S&P 500 by amounts of range and inclusion. They uncovered the top 20 businesses (or those people with the optimum scores for DE&I) experienced far better running final results on ordinary than the cheapest-scoring firms. Businesses that value DE&I take pleasure in other gains as nicely, improved corporate track record, far more innovation, and ease in attracting leading-tier expertise. The company case for DE&I has never ever been more compelling than now. DE&I initiatives can build a much better company lifestyle and much more engagement from workers, at a time when companies want them to put forth their best endeavours, consider of answers to on-likely complications, and operate as a group.

6. Upskilling is the contact-to-motion. IMA recently carried out a world wide study of finance and accounting experts, posing questions linked to Covid impacts on staffing, income management, upskilling and reskilling. A crucial acquiring of the study was the issue by finance and accounting specialists about whether or not their present expert skills will even now be applicable in the write-up-Covid-19 era—12% of study respondents believe their skills will not be relevant, and another 10% are doubtful. In this context, it is obvious why professional associations like IMA are emphasizing the worth of continuous studying and offering classes in info analytics, blockchain and other systems, as a way of assisting gurus obtain the expertise they need to contend in the new post-Covid globe of do the job.

2021 will see the emergence of the post-Covid overall economy, in which Mergers & Acquisitions will be again on the rise, and finance leaders will have the strongest company scenario nevertheless for financial investment in technologies like smart automation, RPA, data analytics and blockchain. There will be additional prospects for them to confirm that they can include price to an group beyond reporting and disclosure. Today’s finance purpose, which is pivoting from benefit stewardship to benefit development, demands finance gurus to consistently upskill and get competencies connected to communication, final decision creating and leadership. 2021 will be the finance professional’s time to shine in this regard.