Finance departments at manufacturing and other companies look very different than they did just a few years ago, and the ever-increasing complexity of business has a lot to do with that. Today, finance teams are just as likely to be involved in such areas as IT development, cyber-security and strategic business planning as they are in more traditional areas, such as accounting and financial reporting.
"Increasing business complexity has become the new norm, and it's not surprising that businesses are having to adapt and manage the rapid change," explains Arleen Thomas, CPA, senior vice president of management accounting and global markets for the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA), an industry trade association. "As a result, organizations are calling upon management accountants to play a larger role than ever before," particularly in providing the financial understanding needed to mitigate risk and ensure compliance at their companies.
In a poll of senior-level executives conducted by AICPA, almost all (93%) of the respondents said that business is at least somewhat more complex than it was three years ago, with 30% saying the level of complexity has significantly risen over that time frame. And they also agree that the situation is only going to get more complex: 72% are predicting a moderate or significant increase in business complexity over the next three years.
As a result, CFOs and the finance team will be asked to shoulder more of the burden of navigating their companies through that business complexity. When asked which skills they expect to become essential to performing their jobs in the next three years, respondents said:
- Strategic business planning (69%).
- Change management (41%).