27th September 2022

Finance Technical Skills and Technology: A Recipe for Success in Future Finance

When looking to the future of finance, you might wonder what finance technical skills you can be developing. With more hybrid workforces, technology and tech skills to go with it are needed more than ever.

Technical skills that your finance team can look into are things like:

  • Data Science and big data programming language
  • MI
  • AI
  • Analytics-based presentation
  • Robotic Process Automation

Two questions I often get are, “how should I learn these skills?” and “how do I even begin to think about that?”

Here are a few thoughts that might help to futureproof your finance team.

1. Get clear on your finance tech options

Before you dive into developing the technical skills of your finance team, look at the tools available to you. Ask yourself, what are the finance tools of the future? It helps to understand the bigger picture so that you know what the options are in the first place.

Make an effort to understand what AI and machine learning are and how they can help within the finance function. There’s lots of information out there, so a few hours of research will help you get a clear idea.

Once you’re comfortable on the tech side of things, the obvious next step would be to jump straight into something like a machine learning or AI course. You can probably guess what I’m going to say here, take a step back for a second.

It’s the next point that will really set your finance team on a path to effectively analysing complex problems.

2. Understand the ‘real’ business issues you need to solve

The next step is to look at the core problems that the business wants to solve. Once you’re clear on the problems, it becomes much easier to identify the tech that is going to support you to solve them in a really powerful way.

See if this story resonates with you…

A business partner comes to the finance team asking for certain data as they think they have an issue in a certain area. Your finance team sources the data, and the business partner goes away and does something with it. End of story.

What could we be doing instead?

Using our finance technical skills, alongside tech, to understand the root cause issues that the business wants us to solve and apply analysis against that to help the business tackle these root cause issues.

This process is, of course, iterative rather than a linear road. But understanding these ‘real’ business issues means that finance teams can use that knowledge to generate great business impacts.

3. Nail down how you measure ROI

So now your finance team has all this tech and all these great things you can do. It’s time to bridge the gap between the strategy, and the execution of the work you’re actually going to do.

To do this, before going into all the tools, analysis and technical stuff, we need to be clear on the best way to measure ROI. Because how will we report back on the brilliant stuff we’re doing without a sense of the impact it’s having, or going to have, on the business?

The challenge with measuring ROI is that we learn how to do it in exams before we get far into our careers. It’s theoretical, and often the theory is all about techniques that were big 30 or 40 years ago.

It’s so important though, as this is the bit that will help your team’s work to really influence commercial decision making in the wider business. I’d recommend ensuring your team understand the latest thinking on measuring ROI. Two theories in particular are essential here – customer lifetime value and portfolio theory.

How do we put this into practice? I hear you ask. That leads me onto my next point.

4. Understand Power BI

Power BI is an amazing analytics and data visualisation tool that most people in finance should at least be aware of. It is invaluable for taking lots of data and presenting it in a user-
friendly way. Ultimately, it’ll help your finance team pull together data that is useful to the decision makers in the wider business, to help them make informed decisions to drive the business forward.

Anyone who can use Excel can use Power BI. If you can get through the first couple of days of learning how to use the software, you will learn to love it. As you can tell, I’m a big fan!

When researching the tools that are out there to help finance professionals get to grips with Power BI, I realised there wasn’t anything available. So I built a course!

Most courses tend to give you an overwhelming amount of information, and I know that. This Power BI course only includes the most important things that we think finance professionals need to know about using the software.

Get in touch if you’re interested in signing up for the next cohort!

Interested in learning more?

If you would like to know more top finance technical skills, or how to upskill your team and prepare for the future of finance, get in touch today.

After a 30-minute discovery call, I can help you to build a bespoke training programme that works for you and/or your team.

Oliver Deacon

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