The time has come to delegate to both humans and machines
Three years ago,Accenture asked various CFOs about their day-to-day activities. And two out of three were clear in their minds: they had chosen to delegate more run-of-the-mill financial activities, such as budgets, planning, reports and forecasts, to other executives. And what humans couldn't do, machines did. As Halliburton CFO, Cristopher Weber, puts it: “Automation frees us up time to focus on higher value tasks like analysis and prediction”.
Already before the pandemic, 34% of the activities of the Finance area were automated, according to Accenture. And it estimated that 60-80% of a company's financial activity could be done by machine. “If we genuinely believe that 80% of our finance functions can be digitised, CFOs need to ask themselves this question: What's left for us?”, as Athena Reilly, Accenture's Chief Strategy Officer, insightfully puts it, before going on to answer her own question: “They need to reinvent themselves”.
But it is not only machines and Artificial Intelligence, as we recently discussed in another article. It is also people.
A prime example of delegation within the finance department is the legal and fiscal side, otherwise known as compliance. A CFO cannot be on constant lookout for legislative developments. According to 2020 figures for Spain, some 191,776 pages are published annually in the Official State Gazette and a further 753,322 pages in the regional gazettes. New law and regulations emanating from the state increased by 22%, while regional regulatory output was up 7%, according to a CEOE report. Including 39 decree-laws that forced legal and financial services to act diligently in decoding all these emergency regulations in the wake of COVID-19.