BlackLine research reveals finance skills and talent concerns for global CFOs

global survey of C-suite executives and finance professionals commissioned by BlackLine, a provider of financial controls and automation software, has revealed that just 14 percent of CFOs are confident that their finance function has the skills required to help their organisation grow and adapt over the next five years.    

The research also found that more than a third (35%) of C-suite respondents believe finance and accounting (F&A) is failing to keep up with other areas of the business when it comes to digital transformation. 

The survey of 1,150 business leaders and finance professionals (conducted by independent research agency Censuswide across the US, UK, Germany, France, Singapore and Australia) suggests that talent acquisition and retention are high on the C-suite’s agenda as companies seek to implement more aggressive growth strategies post-pandemic. However, it also identifies a major skills gap that threatens F&A’s ability to provide the consultancy, analysis, planning and due diligence required to support these broader business goals.  

The research showed that skills and talent are particular concerns for CFOs.  When asked what their most pressing business concerns are for the next five years, 30 percent of CFOs said that acquiring new talent is a key priority.  

When asked about the skills their organisation currently has within the finance function, both C-suite executives and finance professionals highlighted a number of vital gaps.  More than a third (38 percent) of respondents said that not everyone in their finance team has the broad business leadership knowledge or skills required today, with 32 percent stating they do not currently have enough people with software and technology experience within the finance function. Furthermore, when asked what the biggest challenge is for recruiting future F&A talent, more than a third (36%) of overall respondents noted that it is difficult to find candidates with both technology and F&A skills.  

Commenting on the study, Marc Huffman, BlackLine CEO, said: “It’s positive to see that so many companies are now focusing on growth and that business leaders plan to pursue ambitious strategies to make this happen.  The global economy is in a period of recovery, and it is vital that the finance function, which lies at the heart of business, is appropriately skilled to address the many challenges ahead. Business leaders must ensure that we retain and develop the people we have and are also in a position to attract the best the market has to offer; but as the survey shows, this can be challenging. Finding people with the right technology and F&A skills seems to be at the heart of the issue. To attract the best and the brightest finance talent moving forward, we must reevaluate tools, training and development, in addition to the perceived role that F&A plays within the business. Delivery of business growth as opposed to purely survival will be dependent upon building a finance function that is as technology literate as it is financially literate. People need to be freed from the mundane and given the space to focus on strategic business insight and value.”