Chief financial officers at banking and insurance companies are playing an increasing role in digital transformation through leveraging new data and analytic technologies and by assuming greater influence in decisions about technology investments, according to new research from Accenture.

The research published in two reports – one for the banking industry and one for the insurance industry – surveyed more than 700 CFOs and senior finance executives, including 97 in insurance and 146 in banking.

Accenture conducted qualitative interviews with dozens of CFOs, senior finance executives, CEOs and chief data officers.

Three quarters of the banking and insurance CFOs surveyed said driving business-wide operational transformation is within their purview (77 per cent in banking and 74 per cent in insurance).

From the report, 82 per cent in banking and 81 per cent in insurance see identifying and targeting areas of new value across the business as one of their main responsibilities.

Steve Culp, a senior managing director at Accenture said, “Banking and insurance CFOs are at the centre of the organisation, working alongside the CEO, acting as the economic guardian to ensure that the digital transformation strategy is effective across the entire enterprise.

“By leveraging predictive analytics and artificial intelligence to better interpret data for key business decisions, CFOs can drive value, improve efficiency and enable strategy beyond the borders of the finance function.”

Both reports highlight that CFOs are playing a crucial role in digital investments, 75 per cent of the CFOs surveyed are leading efforts to improve efficiency through the adoption of digital technologies and exploring how disruptive new technologies could benefit their organisation.

It also shows finance is taking a lead role in data and analytics, the research noted CFOs biggest potential strength is the ability to harness data to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of not just the finance function, but the entire organisation.

Banking finance executives are more likely than those in other industries to provide proactive analysis of future business scenarios throughout the organisation according to 40 per cent of banking CFOs.

Insurance CFOs are significantly more likely than those in other sectors to say that finance should take a leading role in identifying and managing control of the most critical data cited by 57 per cent of insurance CFOs.

The report also showed there are challenges finding finance talent with data and analytics skills.

Banking CFOs said that the ability to analyse data is a core requirement of their role, 41 per cent said they consider data science one of the most important skills that junior finance executives can have.

Meanwhile, insurance CFOs believe that their companies are more likely than those in other sectors to have financial talent shortages that prevent them from achieving their business-wide strategic ambitions.

Culp said, “Financial services CFOs are increasingly performing a difficult balancing act between managing risk and unlocking value.

“The use of data and the broader adoption of digital technologies offer an extraordinary opportunity, but only if the finance team — and the broader organisation — have the talent, skills and resources to capitalise on them.”

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