Where the CFO was once seen as the person to balance the books, the role is
increasingly expanding to contribute to driving growth and nurturing relationships as organisations move towards a more customer-centric mindset.
But it’s not just the CFO. The wider finance community is facing similar pressure. Clients increasingly expect their accounting and tax providers to offer value beyond the figures – they look to them as advisors that can help with their financial decision-making
and deliver guidance beyond accounting or auditing.
Financial providers are responding to these rising expectations by diversifying their service portfolio. In particular, there is a trend to integrate add-on services, such as business consulting and IT services. And it’s paying off. According to a
recent report from SourceMedia Research diversified financial providers are experiencing more growth, regardless of the size of their firm.
The argument for diversifying is compelling; the question is how to actually make it happen. For many financial providers, technology is presenting itself as the answer. One type of technology that firms are gravitating towards in particular is cloud-based
Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP).
Cloud ERP systems provide a centralised platform for firms to monitor their clients’ key financial processes at the same time as they engage with them. Firms see the potential in adopting a cloud ERP practice to unlock added value for their clients, and
the movement to integrate them is strong. The same report from SourceMedia shows that 20 percent of firms are looking to move to cloud ERP in the next 12 to 18 months. As Mike Kean, CPA and Partner at Sikich’s Technology Group, a professional services firm,
put it: “If you can use technology to make your clients more efficient, they become more profitable, which in turn will make them more profitable clients to you”. In essence, cloud ERP is being seen as a platform for growth.
The overarching visibility that cloud ERP provides allows firms to get closer to their clients – they can verify journal entries, trial balances and check financials efficiently, all in real-time. The overview also helps financial professionals work with
their clients to develop and build new experiences that differentiate their businesses, based on data gathered on the platform. This could inform an accelerated expansion into new markets, the implementation of a new billing model, or the development of new
sales and distribution channels.
It is only with the visibility, control and agility that cloud ERP provides that informed decisions can be made and growth can be accelerated. In short, technology is helping firms become trusted advisors and partners in innovation, not simply interpreters
of historical financial reports.
Friction on the road to adoption
The question is not whether to invest in technology, but rather why more firms aren’t already. For many, a lack of experience and resources are the biggest challenges in launching technology projects such as implementing a cloud ERP platform. Other firms
are held back by their size, wary that particular solutions could become ill-fitting as they scale over time. It’s important here to choose an easy-to-use system that offers a clear cost/benefit analysis, while also remaining flexible and scalable to meet
the needs of firms of different sizes.
The good news is that modern technology comes in many shapes and sizes. No matter how you are looking to diversify your offering, there will be a solution to help you do it. For many it will be cloud ERP, and the visibility, control and agility it enables.
The most important thing is that the technology allows you to increase your strategic value, and become a trusted advisor and partner for your clients.
With traditional finance functions changing so much, future success will ultimately depend on how technology can be blended to enhance services and offerings.