It’s not been an easy ride for the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) over the past couple of years – economic uncertainty, increased regulation and an ever-pressing need to cut costs and grow revenue has taken its toll. And with innovation continuing to buffet the workplace, upending business models and increasing customer demand, it’s no surprise that CFO turnover is on the up.
Sovereign wealth funds are state-owned funds used by especially Middle Eastern and Asian governments to support projects they feel will promote domestic growth and welfare; lately, they have been shifting to emerging-technology opportunities. One difference between SWFs and other funds is a willingness to wait to realize long-term returns; technology firms with vast potential to serve private and public interests are proving to be the perfect targets for SWF investment.
Every finance department is facing the same challenge, no matter their size, expertise or industry. New technologies are entering the workplace, changing the way we work and completely upending business models. Nowadays, consumers are ‘always on,’ demanding rapid service and communications. People want to subscribe to products, rather than buy them. Even investors are asking a lot, for example insisting companies precisely predict demand to keep the bottom line lean.
Chief financial officers’ talents are too often lost to mundane, routine tasks that do not add much value to their important positions as their CEOs’ main advisers. Fortunately, technological innovations are removing much of the burden, freeing CFOs to fulfill their roles as prime movers and shakers, guiding their companies to new heights. Cloud technology, enterprise resource planning and artificial intelligence are proving to be time-saviors for today’s busy CFOs.
For European banks, regulations (GDPR, MiFID II, PSD II, Open Banking) are aligning at a time when they are already warding off digital disruptors intent on wooing customers with convenient, cutting-edge technology-based offerings. Financial institutions that adopt a wait-and-see approach will likely lose ground in a rapidly changing financial landscape, but those who adapt and maximize their formidable advantages will prevail.
Cloud computing is expected to be one of the fastest growing technology areas in the coming years with business applications likely becoming the biggest market for cloud-services spending.
With the number of reports suggesting that fintechs are bad news for banks, it may come as a surprise, that the opposite is in fact true. Fintechs may actually be the best thing to happen to traditional banks and the banking sector for a long time. No, really.
New regulation forcing businesses to provide consistent and timely evidence of accountability are hitting processes and operating costs hard and are leading to the emergence of third-party, specialist “financial crime and compliance risk utilities”. Matthew Long of Oracle looks at the pros and cons of outsourcing compliance and risk to third parties.
The ranks of traditional banks have been joined by a new generation of digital-only upstarts that promise all manner of exciting ways to manage your money or interact with financial advisors.
In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” If Benjamin Franklin were alive in today’s post-financial crisis world, he might have added “compliance” to his statement.