Almost daily I get these news-emails about finance but I have never subscribed to them. They just started appearing in my work inbox one day. When I get stuck on a problem, I will turn to these news-emails to see what "they" (whoever they are) are trying to sell me. The news-emails are written like news articles but being suspicious, I think they may be soft sales - you might liken them to infomercials but very, very subtle.
For fear that the emails are really phishing emails, I don't click on the links but instead Google the title to see if I ever get the articles directly. So far, only once did I ever hit upon the news-email article, so the rest of the articles may be developed in-house for purposes of infomercial sales or they may be phishing emails.
But using these news-emails as a source of topics to Google is a good way to gather current ideas that may be out on the Internet. I will Google using the title of the articles in the news-emails, and while I don't get the news-emails' articles directly, I will get a lot of other interesting articles to peruse.
Last week there was a set on 2017 trends for CFOs. And the two big takeaways that I gathered was:
- Continue automating for efficiency
- Develop into a strategic partner
The automating for efficiency is a no brainer. I would think we've been doing that for a couple of years now, but then on second thought, I have seen a lot of unnecessary manual efforts still going on. The manual effort comes from 1) either the data does not come in a friendly fashion, or 2) the data comes from multiple sources and must be combined somehow or 3) the financial person does not know how to use pivot tables. Whatever the case may be, the financial professionals just don't seem to set up their data and processes for automated handling.
The second trend for CFOs is rather interesting: they want to become strategic partners.
Hmmm, to become a strategic partner, they will have to think bigger, beyond the cost cutting mode and beyond the shareholder mantra. Instead of thinking of cost cutting, they would have to start understanding the business, not just in financial bottom line terms but in operational, marketing and customer terms. They would need to figure out new ways of putting together the business. They would have to talk about finding new sources of revenues and where the company can add value based upon its "skillset". They would need to look at people as sources of talent rather than as sources of cost.
Getting away from the cost cutting and shareholder mantra would be a real stretch for them. I'm not sure they can do it.
They've been talking about cost cutting, outsourcing, offshoring, rationalizing costs for the last 20 or 30 years that it's hard to see them espousing new thoughts and theories outside of cost cutting. If anybody starts propounding a broader picture, it will have to be the younger financial professionals, with the elders just mimicking.
Being a strategic partner will have to involve more than just bottom line thinking. They will need to reach out and talk to the other departments. They will need to understand the workings of other departments before they can begin to develop strategies. Working with others will become more important than just hectoring others to cut costs. It might even mean developing a backbone to stand up to the shareholders and do what is good for society rather than just for the shareholders.
Are financial professionals ready to be real business people?