During a recent webinar moderated by AFP President and CEO Jim Kaitz, an expert panel weighed in on what is currently being expected of the finance department in the Asia-Pacific (APAC) region. Towards the end of the discussion, the group attempted to gauge what lies ahead for finance as it navigates its way through the COVID-19 crisis and beyond.
SKILLS FOR THE FUTURE
Kaitz asked the group to consider the skills that treasury and finance professionals will need going forward. “As you think about the future—and I think everyone has certainly been very realistic in terms of how long this pandemic is probably going to impact all of us individually and our organizations—what are the key skillsets you're looking at for your team?” he asked.
Jessie Toh, Treasurer for Coda Payments Pte. Ltd., responded that financial professionals will have to be resilient, because the future is so uncertain. She stressed that, individually, practitioners will have to “not want to rest,” because the crisis is “not over; it's not done.”
Joseph Lee, Group Head of Treasury and Working Capital Advisory and Solutions for DBS, noted that finance has often had to take the reins and steer the business through thick and thin. As such, financial professionals must be ready to act on the fly and approach problems unconventionally. “The ability to support the business by thinking on one's feet and out of the box is absolutely critical,” he said.
Additionally, prioritization is crucial in a crisis environment and further out. “There are many things that come at you when a crisis happens, and the ability to prioritize and to act on those priorities actually does make a difference for company,” Lee said.
Sereen Teoh, CFO for AirAsia BIG Loyalty, responded that she expects her team to step up as strategic advisors for the entire business. “Finance is no longer confined to the back office,” she said. “I think, especially at this time, everyone has to elevate their position. Become an innovator and a disrupter, and actually harness data to unleash new value.”
One area of finance that continues to grow in influence across the organization is FP&A. As companies attempt to forecast what lies beyond the COVID-19 crisis, FP&A skillsets will likely become even more valued.
According to recent survey by AFP, many FP&A professionals expect to gain more visibility with senior management once the pandemic ends. “I believe FP&A will be brought into more levels of the organization to assist with reviewing and understanding our options and modeling of scenario/sensitivity impacts more frequently,” said one survey respondent.
FP&A is particularly adept at scenario planning, which will be essential as companies brace for a potential resurgence of the virus and other disruptions. Survey respondents noted that FP&A will likely be called upon to create probabilistic models, looking at a broad spectrum of scenarios and potential impacts. Additionally, FP&A teams will likely be involved in regular stress-testing, “including detailed action plans to quickly respond to sudden unpredictable events,” said one respondent.
Full results of the 2020 AFP COVID-19 FP&A Survey are available here.