Change / transformation Finance Leadership

The future of finance is strategy; new Oracle event examines ‘The Modern Finance Experience’

Perhaps the most difficult concept for today’s leaders to grasp is this:

If you want to grow, you have to stop doing the things that have helped you grow.

It’s a mind-numbing paradox, but one that you absolutely have to get right if you want to remain relevant going forward.

If you think your legacy products and services are going to carry you into a profitable future, you’re delusional. Your goal shouldn’t be to cling to what got you here. It should be to find what’s going to get you there — to break free of what Peter Sheahan calls the “gravity of success” and find your next competitive advantage.

Rita McGrath, a Columbia Business School professor who is widely regarded as one of the world’s most influential business thinkers, puts it this way:

“You’ll keep making money … until you don’t.”

The world is changing before our very eyes — and it’s changing at warp speed. That means our businesses are changing, and that means our jobs are changing.

CFOs, for instance, are being asked to do a lot more than just crunch the numbers. They’re being asked to interpret those numbers and discover what they mean for the future of our organizations.

In a brilliant article titled “What will the CFO role look like in 2020?” Deloitte CFO and COO Frank Friedman put forth a few ideas of how he believes the finance function must evolve over the next five years. The first step, he said, is for CFOs “to be more digitally sophisticated and tech-savvy in order to leverage technological innovations — from the cloud to Big Data, data analytics, and visualization — to advance their finance agenda and finance’s ability to partner with the business.”

“The challenge for finance,” Friedman said, “is to transform that data into valuable and actionable insights. To do so, CFOs will have to be more strategic in thinking about how they can help drive their organization’s own transformation to a more digitally oriented world.”

Doing so will require tomorrow’s CFOs to have an entirely new set of skills that are grounded less in core transactional competencies and more in future-focused strategy skills and so-called “soft skills” that will position tomorrow’s finance professional at the center of the organization.

“From a career development standpoint, that means people with primarily finance and accounting backgrounds or those coming directly from the controller’s office will need to acquire experiences and skills outside of finance in order to qualify for the CFO’s changing role,” Friedman said. “Aspiring CFOs should purposefully collect a more well-rounded set of career experiences that play across the broader spectrum of an enterprise.”

In short: This ain’t your father’s finance department.

The Modern Finance Experience The folks at Oracle understand that. They have built an event that focuses on the evolving role of the finance professional, and we think it’s one of the most important new events on our radar screen.

It’s called “The Modern Finance Experience.” Scheduled for April 6-7 in Chicago, it will feature “interactive workshops, customer case studies, and thought-provoking keynotes designed to give your finance organization a competitive edge today and in the future.”

The bottom line, says Oracle? “It’s up to finance to lead their organizations to profitability in this new world.”

The agenda is astounding. The Big Short author Michael Lewis, City of Detroit CFO John Hill, Fortune Senior Editor Geoff Colvin, LinkedIn Vice President of Finance Richard Wong, GE Finance CIO James Richards, Uber Controller Karen Walker, and American Express Corporate Controller Linda Zukauckas are slated to speak. So are Oracle thought leaders like CEOs Safra Catz and Mark Hurd, Corporate Controller Corey West, and Vice President of Global Finance Systems Loren Mahon.

Also on hand will be AICPA Vice Chair and former MACPA Chair Kimberly Ellison-Taylor, who will speak at a Women in Finance luncheon on April 6.

MACPA members are offered a $100 discount by using the registration code “AICPMF16.” Sign up now and meet us in Chicago in early April.

The impact it will have on the future of your organization could be profound.

Read recaps from the event Here are a few quick looks at some of the keynote presentations at Oracle's Modern Finance Experience:


William D. Sheridan