Although the pandemic is currently going through a revival, the impact on companies and, more specifically, their finance teams has become clear over the last months.
In the midst of the pandemic EY and CFO Magazine launched a CFO Barometer to all its members to have an overall view on the impact of COVID-19 on finance. Apart from questions on liquidity, going concern and client behavior, there were questions included dealing with the impact on the finance function in the long run. The answers on the latter were not that surprising, but only confirmed the truth of Albert Einstein’s quote: “In the midst of every crisis, lies great opportunity”. Indeed, the answers contained answers such as (i) several processes would be reviewed; (ii) opportunities on the level of digitalization and RPA would be investigated and (iii) the use of the current working tools would be revalidated.
Future robustness in the new normal
In addition to that, it can’t be neglected that the crisis (and its impact on the market which led to several bankruptcies) will definitely have an impact on the expectations set on finance teams by all possible stakeholders such as shareholders, banks, employees, financial markets… We can expect an increasing demand of financial information by all stakeholders; such as e.g. (i) specific management reporting; (ii) uniformized financial statements in IFRS; (iii) regular treasury analysis or (iv) shorter closing/reporting deadlines.
Hence, it can be expected that the pressure on the (performance) of the finance team will significantly increase in the upcoming months. Due to the current pandemic, a first step has been taken: the acknowledgment that modifications need to be made to the current way of working. However, the second step is even more important as the strength of an analysis can be measured by the action plan resulting from that analysis as well as its implementation afterwards. During the second and third phase, management of companies need to (i) take necessary decisions in order to execute the plan; (ii) make sure the employees are informed and convinced of the measures taken and (iii) make sure that the ongoing business is not impacted by the changes.
As a conclusion, we can state that the strength of the finance team to face the challenges above will be the key to future robustness in the new normal. Going back to the quote of Albert Einstein; each crisis leads to an opportunity to rectify the causes, improve the response and avoid the same in the future.