CSR and AI are among the responsibilities of the finance function version 2022

CSR and AI are among the responsibilities of the finance function version 2022



The pandemic has not finished mistreating the accounting and financial services of companies. After the perilous ordeal of the remote work test in 2020, resilience continued with great acceleration in digital transformation and recruitment of targeted profiles, in particular.

Towards the adoption of a hybrid model promoting productivity in teleworking

Despite a year 2021 marked by great uncertainties, the finance teams of many organizations have achieved the impossible by completing the closing of the accounts on time, even by starting their forecasts of results for the periods to come – all while working during the most of the year, remotely. Building on this success, corporate finance functions will continue to seek opportunities to operate and perform under the same circumstances — working remotely.

According to a recent study conducted by McKinsey in the United States, the pandemic has prompted nearly two-thirds of corporate employees to reflect on their lives and jobs, and their aspirations for the future — their purpose. The same survey reveals that their main reasons for resigning are the impression of not being appreciated at their fair value, either by their organization or by their managers, as well as the absence of a feeling of belonging to their company. The financial and accounting departments affected by this issue risk being hit hard by the phenomenon of “great resignation”, which should continue throughout 2022.

To take care of their workforce, and with the standardization of telework, these departments will have to invest in tools and technologies allowing their workforce to perform while better managing their time, whether through the automation of repetitive tasks and time-consuming, or using collaborative tools offering more productive and enjoyable ways to interact.

At the same time, these professionals will be listened to more by their organizations on all subjects such as diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging, as well as on environmental, social and governance issues — i.e. what constitutes corporate social and environmental responsibility, or CSR.

A hunt for profiles with multiple skills to support informed decision-making

Finance departments will seek to recruit talented individuals with both traditional knowledge of finance and accounting, as well as more advanced technical and software skills. Such combinations will indeed be essential to enable organizations to reach or exceed high levels of performance and excellence.

This growing demand for versatility will unsurprisingly be fueled by the progress of digital transformation within companies. Finance teams will be responsible for informing their colleagues in other departments of the strategic importance of having a variety of real-time indicators – income, capital available, liquidity and other net profits – as well as more subjective indicators. : pending opportunities, deliveries made on time, average collection times, customer satisfaction, employee commitment, etc.

Finally, since each department produces its own data, financial services will have to rely on artificial intelligence and other cognitive computing tools to analyze this data, taking into account the financial information obtained in real time. Consequently, in order to convert a vast field of performance data into qualified information and meet the decision-making needs of each function, the finance department will call on ever more profiles offering both traditional skills and technical knowledge.

CSR among the responsibilities of the finance department

Faced with the rise of the issue in public opinion and the interest of institutional investors around the subject, requests for information related to CSR are set to increase in 2022, which should subject public companies to new financial reporting requirements. In order to best prepare for it, the main audit firms across the planet and the major management consulting firms have already developed professional audit and/or insurance offers that take into account the risks represented by issues such as climate change.

As a strategic partner of senior management, the finance department will be the main promoter of CSR initiatives within the organization. As part of this mission, it will put in place a governance structure and an environment to control the factors and risks associated with it, while providing oversight and being transparent about the measures taken.

The DAF seems an ideal candidate to carry out this initiative. It is already his responsibility to ensure that the financial reports are accurate, complete and verifiable, in accordance with the accounting standards for financial information in force. Since the finance function already masters these standards and knows how to prepare financial statements, it will be up to them to ensure that the data relating to the company’s CSR criteria receive the same attention. than those it presents in its balance sheets.

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