The future of the finance profession may soon experience seismic changes, according to experts in the field.
One of those pervasive changes will be the adoption of automated accounts payable (AP) processes. As a result, finance pros can spend more time on value-added work that boosts their morale and eliminates mundane tasks such as stuffing paper envelopes.
Heather Caudill, vice president of AvidXchange’s relationship management, shared these insights during a recent REVx event with Miami-based financial experts.
To effectively address these changes, she said, it’ll be necessary for chief financial officers to become “chief value officers” — an expanded role that helps finance teams adjust to their new responsibilities, drive broader corporate changes and boost stakeholder value.
Donald Noble, a partner with the Florida CFO Group, said a major part of the CFO’s role will be understanding various financial technologies coming to the market and how they add value to business.
“CFOs have to be prepared for everything coming along and have detailed knowledge about different innovative technologies and potential benefits to their businesses,” Noble said. “They should own this role themselves.”
While presenting financials to business leaders will still be important, it’s now becoming more necessary for CFOs to understand how the integration of different technologies may have affected financial results, sales initiatives or a drop in customer accounts.
“They have to be strong at shifting between strategy and tactics,” Noble said.
Other top takeaways from the event included:
Mid-level finance managers need to sharpen data analytics skills
Similar to CFOs, more will also be expected out of mid-level managers.
“Mid-level finance professionals won’t be able to come to meetings to just answer a few questions,” Noble said. “They’ll need to prepare ahead of time by analyzing and interpreting financial data and then be ready to share valuable insights based on that data during meetings with finance leaders.”
Blockchain, robotics utilization are growing
Noble also mentioned that blockchain could eventually be applicable for automating AP processes.
A decentralized, collectively controlled and shared online database, blockchain is increasingly used as a ledger for financial transactions. This type of database is one of the more futuristic technologies the finance industry is using. Another is robotics.
“Robotics is big in banks,” said Vanessa Lugo, senior vice president and operating CFO of Ocean Bank.
Her bank used robotics to underwrite and track the Paycheck Protection Loans given by the U.S. federal government to help businesses financially during the pandemic.
Efficiency is among the most important benefit of AP automation
Each of these technologies – AP automation, blockchain and robotics — are designed to improve the efficiency of financial operations and processes. And efficiency, as it turns out, is especially valuable in this industry. During the panel a few salient numbers were shared to underscore this point.
Nearly all (95 percent) of respondents to an AvidXchange survey said AP automation’s ability to drive efficiency ranks as the most important benefit to their organizations.
Those surveyed also rated their top reasons for considering an AP automation solution. The top three results focused on efficiency:
- 83 percent to create operational efficiency
- 72 percent to reduce processing operational costs
- 64 percent to improve timing of approval process