It pays to develop a digital mindset

Our recently published ‘Future of Finance research’ establishes that to survive in the digital world you need a digital mindset, combined with strong human intelligence and technical skills. This is why since the launch of our updated Professional Qualification and CGMA Competency Framework, at the end of January, you’ve probably heard us talk quite a lot about the need to learn, unlearn and relearn.

Before the advancements of new technologies accounting professionals could rely on their skill-base for a lot longer than you can now. Today, even the highest valued skills and knowledge have a rapidly decreasing shelf-life.

‘Agile Finance Unleashed’, a piece of research the Association carried out with Oracle, found only 10% of finance teams have the skills they need to support the digital ambitions of their organisations. This skills gap is impeding the ability of finance teams in all kinds of organisations to take advantage of new technologies and support enterprise digital transformation.

In this environment to survive in a digital world you must embrace the process of learning, unlearning and relearning. So while previously it would have been enough to pass your CIMA exams with flying colours, to be successful in the digital age you have to engage consistently and update your skills as you progress through your career.

To develop full digital awareness you have to understand the opportunities and threats that could arise from the deployment of new technologies and issues such as cyber security. Awareness and understanding risks and appropriate responses in this area is critical for everyone from the board of directors to the entry-level employees. And especially so, since according to the World Economic Forum’s 2019 Global Risk Report, data fraud/theft and cyberattacks rank fourth and fifth on its list of top-ranked global risks.

With 40% of transactional accounting tasks expected to be automated by 2020 (according to research by professional services firm Accenture), understanding the role of technologies like RPA (robotic process automation) and how they impact your role, is becoming ever more important.

In addition, things like blockchain, which provides finance with a decentralised, anonymous and secure digital way to transfer assets between two parties without the need for a third party, may soon become part of your everyday working life. While you may not need to be a digital developer, you will need to understand the basics and their value to business and finance.

To support you in your learning and ensure that businesses can get the staff with the right skills and mindset we have developed a mix of free opportunities including: our new learning and resource centre and fundamentals series, webinars, regional events and our blog site. All of these resources provide you with opportunities to understand how new technologies like blockchain and RPA are affecting the profession and your work.

This is important, as we know the role of the finance professional is transforming for the good. The payoff for those who invest in up-skilling and take on a digital mindset looks rosy, but the same might not be said for those who don’t invest in their professional development. So, be sure to set aside some time to advantage of the free resources.

• Dr. Martin Farrar, Associate Technical Director – Management Accounting, The Association of International Certified Professional Accountants