A Q&A With Paychex’s CFO

The potential of function is below. Covid-19 accelerated mega-traits that ended up taking shape, like hybrid work schedules or digital buyer support. But a fewer discussed part of do the job is time utilization by significant-expert workforce.

To come across out extra about this, I spoke with Efrain Rivera, the CFO of HR outsourcing agency Paychex, about how the Covid-19 pandemic has enabled remote do the job and leveraged data and automation to increase employee efficiency in finance. We also mentioned the outlook for little organizations this year and over and above, and how finance leaders can help give back again to their communities during a time of sizeable hardship.

Jeff Thomson: The Covid-19 pandemic has led to both of those a mass changeover to remote perform and sizeable downsizing at lots of firms. There will most likely be long-time period effects, even as the financial system recovers. How are Paychex’s products and solutions and services assisting firms navigate this accelerated long run of operate? What role does engineering participate in in enabling firms to be a lot more remote and nimble, in particular inside of the finance function?

Efrain Rivera: Paychex was effectively-ready for the acceleration of the long run of work. Years in the past, we recognized a shift occurring in the office and invested in innovation to assure we could meet up with these requires. Our Paychex Flex system is a cloud-based mostly SaaS alternative. This, together with our 5-star cellular application and self-services operation, lets consumers and their workforce to have accessibility to our portal, together with knowledge and reporting, from any place, at any time, and on any machine. Some of our recent innovations, which includes HR Discussions and HR Link, assist consumers to talk and have interaction immediately with their remote workforce. Lastly, with more than 200 compliance experts and 600 HR experts throughout the U.S., Paychex has the expertise and help required to assistance purchasers navigate the business enterprise impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic and accelerated tendencies in the workplace.

When contemplating precisely about how engineering has impacted the finance operate, cloud-dependent engineering makes it possible for corporations to be nimble, supplying more rapidly and much more recurrent entry to knowledge throughout equipment. Technology has also designed it achievable for finance experts to examine substantial amounts of knowledge, presenting insights that assistance organizations make strategic conclusions. Utilizing technological know-how to automate additional transactional jobs or data manipulation empowers finance specialists to devote more time on value-added do the job, this sort of as examining the details and drawing helpful insights.

Thomson: Automation and other technologies are considered by numerous as task destroyers. But for the finance professional these systems can truly liberate them to complete increased-stage capabilities related to strategic choice-creating and evaluation. What role does your organization participate in in assisting HR with redeployment of human capital? How significant is it for today’s finance and accounting experts to upskill in areas like info analytics, RPA or intelligent automation in purchase to continue to be related? 

Rivera: At Paychex, our finance crew helps to set up and monitor distinct productiveness and effectiveness metrics that can be applied to enhance the use of human cash. We also employ value profit models to assess scenarios. We’re also centered on supporting our company partners recognize their organization’s monetary targets and targets.

Abilities in areas this kind of as facts analytics, RPA or intelligent automation are unquestionably vital for today’s finance specialists. Within the finance group at Paychex, we have started off to carry in analysts from exterior of our useful space who have data analytics and engineering automation techniques. In addition to that, inside of our Hazard team, which is portion of my broader group, we have a focused knowledge science staff that analyzes information and develops predictive products. Our finance and data science teams regularly partner.

Thomson: As the nature of function evolves, increased training is heading to have to capture up, making certain that students are studying the proper capabilities for an age of program, automation and flexible employment. As a finance leader, what do you feel finance and accounting systems need to be emphasizing to the soaring technology of specialists? What about traditional finance training is nevertheless important, and what is obsolete?

Rivera: Finance and accounting packages need to emphasize how to leverage information to attain insights. Every group has facts and the concept of “big data” is a scorching topic. Even so, today’s financial analysts have to have to be able to interpret the information to gain insights. Most companies aren’t nonetheless good at using “big data” to create “big insights.” Analysts need to understand the company to know how to implement the info and leverage individuals insights.

When considering about a traditional finance education and learning, it is not so a great deal that something is obsolete, but instead that the concentration has adjusted. Points are moving and evolving so speedily that the timeframe in which we appear at the globe is significantly shorter – it is additional 2-3 decades out vs. the conventional 5- to 10-year outlooks.

Thomson: Paychex’s consumer base is comprised mostly of tiny and medium-sized organizations, and Paychex, along with IHS Markit, maintains a Modest Organization Work Observe index measuring work and pay back in this sector. The Covid-19 pandemic has taken a main toll on modest enterprises. What are your forecasts for this sector around the coming year and further than? What insights would you have for CFOs and other finance leaders (or homeowners) of little and medium-sized companies?

Rivera: Tiny enterprises have been shockingly resilient throughout this hard financial setting. The governing administration stimulus has assisted several tiny organizations hang on. The economic shock of the COVID-19 pandemic has played out otherwise than we have witnessed in prior recessions. We foresee that small firms will continue on to get better progressively in excess of the subsequent quite a few months as lockdowns relieve and people today return to operate.

For finance leaders of little and medium-sized organizations, the earlier 12 months has shown just how essential it is to have a playbook to execute on for diverse eventualities, together with a macroeconomic shock or economic downturn.

Thomson: You serve on the board of two Rochester-centered non-earnings businesses, ESL Federal Credit score Union, which works to economically empower upstate New York inhabitants and Rochester Regional Well being, which works to supply cost-effective health care to upstate New York people. Can you explore your robust connections to upstate New York and why you are passionate about economic empowerment and cost-effective health care for below-served populations? How do these volunteer roles make you a far better CFO?

Rivera: I am fortuitous that Paychex lets its executives to give again to the communities where staff members perform. Western New York has enormous issues stemming from, among the other items, income disparities. Western New York also has considerable strengths. The organizations I provide on address those people challenges as element of their mission, they attempt to make the group much better and [they] are led by fantastic management groups. I frequently master some thing new through my services and it aids to floor me and make me a better govt.

This write-up has been edited and condensed.